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News 09-07-12 04:10 PM

Review: Mark of the Ninja brings 2D stealth with style
 
http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-conten...n1-640x359.png Yeah... just run into those light cones... that's smart...
Klei Entertainment



Games played from a third-person, 2D perspective are kind of weird when you think about it. You control a character that (usually) doesn't have the innate ability to see through walls or intuit the position of distant, unseen enemies. But since you, the player, have a complete view of the immediate area surrounding your character, you're able to give that character the seemingly preternatural ability to anticipate events that, logically, they shouldn't know about. That kind of extra knowledge often has the subtle, almost unnoticed effect of making you and your character feel almost superheroically powerful, which probably explains a lot of the inherent appeal of the 2D perspective in gaming. But Klei Entertainment's Mark of the Ninja is notable particularly for the way it takes this kind of perfect knowledge away from the player, using a variety of subtle and not-so-subtle visual cues to represent the characters' limited knowledge of their surroundings to build one of the best implementations of stealth gameplay I've seen in 2D or 3D.

Mark of the Ninja is utterly defined by the lack of information it gives players in key situations. If you want to know if there's a guard in the next room, you have to lean up against the door and look through the keyhole (and be sure to dart away if he's about to open that door). If you want to know if you'll be spotted when you climb up over that ledge, you need to carefully peek your head up around the corner first. When you duck back down, a hazy, slowly fading red outline will tell you the guards' last observed position, but you can still track their movements by watching the small grey circles that represent their subtle footfalls.

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