Th3 Plan PS2 game: It’s no Italian Job

Anytime a game title uses “1337” or “leetspeak,” the language of internet nerds who dwell in mom’s basement, expectations for the game are low.

Anytime a game title uses “1337” or “leetspeak,” the language of internet nerds who dwell in mom’s basement, expectations for the game are low. Th3 Plan for PlayStation 2 is no exception, a mastermind-heist game that tries its best to be Ocean’s 12 or Entrapment. Those movies did well because they used clever dialogue and slick master-thief schemes, or at least gave you Catherine Zeta-Jones to ogle.

There’s nothing sexy or slick about Th3 Plan, which is so named to bring attention to the unique three-way split of the camera. The top layer is the heist leader’s perspective and the other two cameras give views of your associates at work. The goal of the game is to sleuth about museums, homes and other environments to snatch paintings and fine art to sell for a mint on the open market.

This brings us to problem number one with the game: about 45 minutes in, you realize th3 plans…er, sorry, the plans that you are carrying out don’t feel very clever or complicated. Your team’s diversion tactics almost always work without arousing any suspicion, and each member of your team seems to be a simultaneous computer genius, demolitions expert and perfect marksman with all weapons. The learning curve is about 10 minutes long, even with the three-way camera and control scheme.

Controlling the three separate team members could have been something really innovative and engaging, but there isn’t much to do as the secondary characters. There are some door locks and release valves that require two people to operate, while the third moves in to further the heist, but few of Th3 Plan’s puzzles demand separate use of the characters all at once to distract a guard or open a gate.

The game can be played by three players at once, but if you play with two friends, you’ll just take turns being bored. Playing alone will allow you to work with AI teammates that will listen to commands and get the job done, not decide to declare a heist lame and go clubbing instead.

The visuals as you cakewalk your way through the game-which takes about four hours, with lunch and bathroom breaks–are real easy on the eyes. No matter how dull the game gets, one thing that keeps you going is the curiosity about what you’ll steal next and how lavish a new level will look. Th3 Plan is part of the last wave of PlayStation 2 games, so decent graphics don’t really register next to the PlayStation 3, and Th3 Plan’s storyline doesn’t save face either.

The premise is that you, master-thief Robert “The Mind” Taylor, were hired by the Mafia to go on a world-class heist with a partner named Stephen Foster. The opening cinematics make the plot ridiculously predictable: Foster goes all Benedict Arnold on your ass and greedily betrays you when it comes time to fence the merchandise.

Now, it’s five years later and you’ve teamed up with Alan “Poker” Siegel and Valerie “Cat” Carrera to get back at Foster in a clash of master-thiefness. There are some cheesy jokes describing your teammates’ unoriginal, useless nicknames, but you won’t laugh unless you’re 14 and ripped to the tits on Northern Lights indica buds.

There are some critical issues with the story’s plausibility, just like earlier doubts about the simplicity of the heists. I won’t give away crucial story details, but I did question how it was possible to rob the same museum twice in two nights, with the same tools and nearly identical entry and exit routes. Surely there would be some beefed-up security detail or new infrared lasers, if not a day of museum lockdown to figure out how someone had just swiped a Rembrandt from the joint?

By the end of Th3 Plan, you’ll be in the mood to watch a good heist flick, so just save yourself the trouble and rent the flick instead. Better yet, wait a few weeks and go see Ocean’s 13 when it comes out in June. Th3 Plan is only $15, so if you’re looking for a quick, cheap thrill, go for it. I’d wish you luck in your heists, but you won’t need it…not even if you’re 14 and ripped to the tits on Northern Lights.