Review – Master Thief 3D from Cascata Games

by Reads (6,183)

Master Thief 3D is a 3D game where the player takes the role of a professional catburgler. You will need to run, jump, shoot, and disable alarms, traps, and puzzles to get to your mission goal.

First off, I must express a big complaint. The registration process for Cascata games combines all the least pleasant aspects of a treasure hunt, tax returns, and a marketing survey. In fact, you do have to give them personal information to get to the game–name, email, age, job, gaming habits, and country, and you have to agree to receive email from them if you want product updates. Install a program on your Palm, take the 16-digit code it provides, plug that into their website along with the 28-digit code you get when you purchase, and download the game. And you have to do this every time you buy a new mission pack or switch devices. I was irritated and I didn’t even have to pay for the game. If I’d actually shelled out money for the experience, I would have been REALLY mad. I’ve never been a fan of excessive, user-affronting copyprotection, and Master Thief 3D has it in spades.

On to the fun bits. The game environment mimics in many ways the earliest 3D shooters of the PC world. If you’ve ever played Wolfenstein 3D, Doom, or Duke Nukem, you’ll get big time deja vu. It features all the standard accoutrements: health packs, weapons lying around, goodies to grab and enemies to shoot. It even looks the same as some of those games.

The similarity slows down there, though. MT3D isn’t a run-and-twitch shooter– and it couldn’t be if it wanted to.

Moving through the game environment is difficult at times. First, the game sometimes slows when it’s executing an action like a door opening. Second, the combinations of buttons, and what you need to do to perform X task, can be hard to use. You have hardware buttons assigned to left, right, forward, back, fire, and strafe. You ALSO have the Touchscreen acting as look and aim controls. So unless you have four hands, you need to stop running to shoot, stop turning to aim, etcetera. I can definitely see why they’ve produced a Tungsten | T compatible version of this–I’m sure if you use the d-pad for movement and the center button for firing, and you use your other hand for aiming/strafing, the game would be much more playable and less cramp- inducing.

Moving around your environment, you begin collecting items, finding rooms, and running into puzzles and guards. The guards, while displaying the extraordinarily low level of intelligence common to this type of game engine (they can’t see you through a window), can be quite dangerous given your rather pathetic starting armament of a single stun-gun. In fact, your first act will likely be to stun a guard and take their pistol. This leads to one of the many interesting twists in the game–be careful of the guards, they will wake up, unless you kill them while they’re out. Well, what did you expect in becoming a catburgler?

The puzzles are one of the most challenging and unusual aspects of the game. They surface in various ways consistent with the surroundings–hack into a computer terminal, or figure out the security code to deactivate the alarm. You have to be careful, though, because some puzzles won’t give you a second chance.

The game does include some annoyances. When using nightvision while moving, the screen breaks up in a manner reminiscent of poor quality interlaced video. The aforementioned button and movement issues can be a enormous pain when you’re trying to race back to a door while the alarm is disabled. Clipping is handled rather questionably, and being unable to look down while moving makes avoiding objects very difficult.

Master Thief 3D is a very interesting and unique game. I have no doubt that with the new series of OS5 based devices sporting more control and better speed, MT3D could become a truly great action/puzzle game. Given the altogether rather dubious quality of my experience, from the “1984” registration to the control problems, if asked why I’m so confident in the potential of MT3D, I could only say that I like the game’s audacity. It feels like Cascata is trying to do something more than an action game here, and given what they’ve done with what they’ve had to work with, I think they can. There are a number of problems to be worked out, but hopefully they will be, and if they are this will be one to watch.

Master Thief 3D is also available for OS5.

65K color screen
618K free memory (OS4)
648K free memory (OS5)

I do have a few points to add on. I obtained the Palm OS 5 version for my Tungsten T and the efficiencies TheWraith was hoping for are there in part. The game looks very nice and runs quickly, with few dropped frames. However, I found it difficult to contort my hands around the TT to make it work. I know, it’s not really the developer’s fault, perhaps the hardware is the limiting factor here. In the end, I think it’s a great effort and we’re definitely going to stay tuned to what these guys are up to. They’re pushing the limits of the hardware and should create some excellent products. I can only hope a good joystick/gaming pad comes out to help game makers take advantage of the hardware.

The mission packs run $12, click here to get more info or to download a trial.




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