Review: A plastic face isn't the only thing BK's mascot shares with Michael Jackson, as King can bust out a pretty mean moonwalk too.
Burger King is currently offering three unique video games thanks to King Games and Blitz Games. Sneak King is more distinguishable from the other two in that it's the only strictly single-player game. But its addictive nature makes it just as fun as the multiplayer in Big Bumpin' and exceptionally better than the dismal Pocket Bike Racer.
With Sneak King, the development team created a game that wets your taste buds and manages to hold your attention at the same time. As King, you go from town to town and bless the great citizens with all the goodness on the Burger King menu, from Crossan'wiches to hashbrowns to cups of Joe. But for many of the missions, you must deliver the food undetected, which is where your sneaking skills come in. You scurry about on your toes as to not raise the noise meter on the screen, which alerts neighboring passersby. At the same time, you must avoid their line of sight--which is about the same as a 90-year-old woman. When the coast is clear you can pick up the pace by moving a bit faster, but doing so endangers your concealment and throws their poor visual awareness out the water.
You must satisfy everyone in sight with the flame-broiled goodness that is Burger King, and the four areas with 20 missions apiece offer enough variety that playing becomes fairly addictive, not to mention keeps you on your toes--literally. Some missions have you racing against the clock to deliver a set number of coffees, or to reach a certain point total, while others require you to take your time by trying to reach a specific point value in one delivery, or satisfying the locals with specific flourishes. Flourish count is determined by the meter that pops on to the screen when you reach a prospective target. You normally want to stop this field goal-inspired meter closest to its peak, although a few missions task you to stop it in particular patterns.
The flourish meter, however, isn't the only variable in your point total. Range is another factor in the formula, and the range number is increased when delivering food from one of the many hideouts. You can burrow under a pile of sawdust, squeeze inside a trashcan, conform yourself to the inside of a box--whatever it takes to avoid detection. The distance from one hiding spot to the next varies within each area, and catching the pattern-moving locals while hiding can take some time, but once you understand the patterns they use, it's easier to anticipate the best spots to duck out. It goes far in helping you too, because you need to utilize them to complete a few missions. While a simpler one may just tell you to find 10 different hiding spots, a harder one requires you to actually hide in one before making a delivery. And while the pedestrians all move about in easy to learn patterns, for the most part, you only have a temporary window to make the delivery before their hunger goes away. You'll know how hungry the people are by the onscreen radar, which pinpoints their locations (within the allotted circumference) and details their hunger levels. Reach them in when their hunger is at its climax and you'll get the ultimate payout. However, if you're a step slow they pass out from hunger only to wake up shortly thereafter with no appetite. It's a sleep-wake-hunger cycle you have to combat. So you're not always just racing against the clock, but against each person's hunger cycle as well.
Aside from a few exceptions, staying undetected is important because it, too, impacts your point score and final grade, and in some cases is required for completion of a mission. More missions and new areas become available as you complete missions, and a sneaking suit is available for all who complete it entirely, giving extra reason to want to stick it out through the end. Perfectionists may not mind replaying a C-grade mission for an A. But you can very well just move onto the next challenge, or you can even come back to it later and give it another go. You wouldn't expect a lengthy game at this price, but believe it or not, those aiming for the dean's list will be at this game for hours and hours, as a C grade is generally the common mark with the more difficult tasks.
The environments contain an interesting mixture of not-so-great textures with a few momentary highpoints in the water effects and grass textures. The engine used for Pocket Bike Racer is much of what's seen in here, but Sneak King is visually superior to its two brethren, with the overall look texturally similar to a Sims title. And thanks to an easily adjustable camera angle, traveling undetected is less of a chore, although after a delivery your view sometimes adjusts awkwardly. And you can scope the place out from a first-person view, which restricts your sight to the two peep holes in King's mask, but it's a pointless feature in that you can't roam in this view. It's no surprise that the title fails to visually harness the capabilities of the Xbox's processor, but given the game's simplistic nature and addictive elements, it's easy to overlook these shortcomings.
The annoying audio, on the other hand, isn't as easy to ignore. Every flourish level has a unique musical and dance routine. After a delivery you watch King bust a dance move, take a bow, or perform a similar gyration before handing over the menu item. Though, since you mostly will shoot for the highest flourish level (which isn't too challenging), you are forced to hear the same trumpet rhythm over and over, which gets stale quickly considering the myriad deliveries to be made in just a few challenges alone. You hear the nearby townspeople exchanging words when scoping out the area. But you will have no idea what to make of it, as the made-up ?chitter chatter? sounds like a foreign language gone horribly wrong. The audio isn't horrible; it's just absent, making the rare aural occurrences redundant.