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Developer: Chillingo
Price: $0.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad 2

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★½☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★☆☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Be wary of strangers bearing gifts. That’s one lesson petty thief Bob should have picked up before he accepted a stranger’s help breaking out of prison. But he takes the help and finds himself in debt in Robbery Bob, a top-down stealth game from Chillingo. To pay his way out of what one can only assume would be a solid thrashing at best, Bob is now commited to a series of petty burglaries to repay the favor.

That’s the basic story and players, as Bob, must indulge in a three chapter, 50 level crime spree, which all have one basic mission: get him through the house, find the goods, and get him out before anyone, especially dogs, cops, evil scientists or worse, little old ladies with rolling pins, spot him.

The game starts simply, as level-based games are wont to do, with a virtual D-pad – with optional floating – guiding our beleaguered miscreant to an odd assortment of easy-to-spot goods of dubious value. Little dots on each level indicate that a path is clear when they are white, or red when trouble’s afoot. The single button allows Bob to sprint when his sneaking fails him. As expected, as play continues new obstacles like locked dorrs, lasers and the obvious choice for home security – cannons – appear and we discover Bob’s super-stealth tricks like misdirecting blundering police with a closed door.

There’s a lot of gameplay here, with three stars awarded per level: one for going undetected, one for coming in under a set time and the last for collecting all the loot. There are also Game Center leaderboards, 40 achievements and Crystal Network integration.

I was surprised and impressed to find the game plays in both portrait and landscape mode although it tended to shift between them at odd moments. And, it suggests the developers know what I’m about to complain about. It’s really hard to see what’s going on in the whole house.

The levels, in either orientation, are much larger than the screen on iPhone or iPad, and while there is a pinch-to-zoom option before levels, it can’t be used when playing. I can’t tell you how often I was foiled by a granny who appeared seemingly out of nowhere. Also while the controls work serviceably on iPhone, on iPad they feel cumbersome, especially during moments when super stealth or speed are called for.

Robbery Bob’s learning curve is gradual, and while the level designs are not the most innovative, there are enough incentives to keep fans replaying, with lots of checkpoints and frequent instructions to make moving forward easy for the less committed. Robbery Bob is not the deepest stealth game on the App Store, but for the price it’s definitely worth checking out for short burst of shifty fun.


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