Review By: Siou Choy
|# Of Players:||1|
|Accessories:||Available only at Burger King 11/19/06 - 12/24/06, $3.99 with purchase of a BK Value Meal
Xbox 360 & Xbox versions on same disc
There has been a lot of discussion recently about the amount of in-game advertising rearing its unwelcome head in numerous recent releases. However egregious this sort of thing may have become, no cheap product placement plug could be quite so blatant than the very existence of Sneak King for the Xbox and Xbox 360. The game, it should be noted in case you decide to run out to the stores and look for it, was released at a bargain price of $3.99, exclusively available at the Burger King fast (“instant death”) food chain during the 2006-7 holiday season.
Sneak King has you playing the role of the titular Burger King, the company’s long-since abandoned mascot (until his recent revival) of the 1970s. Those not familiar with the fast food chain's mascot might find the game slightly odd. For those old farts among us who fondly (or derisively) recall the King, the humor factor plays in as much as the nostalgia aspect. Of course, who wouldn't find it funny to have some weird guy in a crown, royally furred mantle and knee britches leaping out of port-a-johns to hand some logger a Whopper or hash browns? (This also goes without suggesting just what might be on that sesame seed bun, considering this guy just jumped out of the crapper to hand it to you…)
The basic premise of Sneak King is to deliver food (or some trans fat saturated, carb loaded, preservative-and-sodium filled facsimile thereof) to the hungry people in the level of play. Given that there’s really nothing to the game (but a whole lot of it to do, before they let you progress), this pretty much means foisting coffee, hash browns, fries and Whoppers on a fairly lethargic logging camp for a long time in the beginning (almost nobody seems to be putting in an honest day’s labor, and most NPCs just seem to be wandering or standing around – I gather it’s a union job).
The object of the game is one note joke simple: the foppish King tiptoes around in plain view, trying to deliver the flavor enhanced food substitutes without “being spotted” (i.e., walking into one of the flashlight-like beams that supposedly represent the loggers’ field of view – they must be suffering from tunnel vision or something, to miss this guy) or before the people (check this out) literally pass out from hunger. If these fools were actually involved in any activity vaguely resembling work, this would have to be a slave camp – what, is their food rationed or something?
OK, now that we’ve discussed the big “challenge” of the game (seriously - avoiding these spaced out clowns’ line of sight is the hard part!), we get into the usual “bonus challenge”, that part of the game where you need to master a particular skill or move in order to not only “pass”, but “exceed”. Ready for this?
When delivering the food substitute to your unsuspecting victim du jour, you can earn extra points by “adding a flourish”. These flourishes range from bowing to doing a long and goofy hip hop style dance move, depending on when you hit the button as a meter flashes from top to bottom (you know the style, likely last encountered in any tennis or volleyball sim). That’s it. Seriously, that’s the whole game.
Being that Sneak King is a budget game, it only consists of four levels, each of which has about 20 missions. Sounds OK, right? Wrong. Each heavily redundant “mission” is simply a “numbers” based variation on the exact gameplay paradigm you’ve already been exposed to! In other words, you get 20 only slightly variable versions of the same damn thing you’d been doing all along. For example, one mission might time the delivery of the ostensible “food” to a certain number of NPCs within a given timeframe; another demands you make your deliveries without being seen by anyone; another might ask that you pull off a top-level flourish (the goofy hip hop dance) with every delivery. And somehow, they stretch this into 20 missions, none of which vary much from that! As you can imagine, the game loses its appeal very fast (as amusing as it might appear at the outset). Seriously, more than one of the “variations” revolves around your delivering Whoppers instead of hash browns. I’m not kidding, here.
As you’d probably hazarded a guess at by now, there isn't a lot going for Sneak King aside from a rather funny motion capture opening. The missions are extremely simple and easy to complete, and levels don't exactly have a lot of depth and challenge to them. Graphically, Sneak King is on par with early PS2 and Xbox games.
Tongue implanted firmly in cheek aside: strangely enough, there seems to be greater attention to graphic detail on the menu items you deliver than on the people you interact with, backgrounds or environments. Not to single out the Burger King chain in particular, but hmm… Here’s a rhetorical question for ya: given the game’s status as a hard sell product plug from a soulless corporation with a particular disinterest in the public health and welfare (can you say unbelievable levels of sodium? How about extremely elevated caloric content? How about the ubiquitous presence of trans fat, dramatically described by one scientist as “instant death”?), I wonder why the product would be portrayed as more important than people and/or the environment?
The audio isn't much to write home about in Sneak King either. There are very few if any background noises in the game (which is kind of creepy, given that you’re deep in the forest at a logging camp). The few times you hear any noise whatsoever take place when you're spotted by one of the NPCs. They shout at you in a Sims-like manner while pointing at you mockingly…which is entirely understandable, given that you’re playing as some weirdo dressed up like a king, tiptoeing around and leaping out of port-o-san’s with a sack of fast food in hand.
Bottom Line:Sneak King is one of those games you pick up just because it's so damn cheap, and you can't believe somebody would actually make a game like this. It's definitely strange, yet amusing if taken in the right light and/or mindset. Basically, if you have a good sense of humor, you should enjoy the game for the first outing or two.
Unfortunately, even the most jovial and good humored among us should tire of the game rather quickly, due to the extreme limitations of its minimalist gameplay paradigm. Still and all, you can't beat $3.99…
Posted: 2007-02-17 13:40:57 PST