Review by Smirnoff
"Not the embarrassing made-for-kids rubbish you might be expecting. This is a stealthy, tactical game of sheep thievery."
When you think of stealthy espionage games, your mind invariably turns to Metal Gear Solid, Syphon Filter or mayhaps the latest incarnation of Bond. A garish colored Looney Tunes game would be the last thing conjured up by your brain meat. But, rather incredibly, Sheep, Dog 'N' Wolf features more surreptitious sneaking around and advanced tactical gameplay than Snake, Logan and 007 could collectively muster.
The character you play isn't too dissimilar to the illustrious agents already mentioned. He's a loner, slightly unkempt, blunt speaking, and not afraid to bend the rules to get the results.
OK, he's a wolf. But not just any wolf - Ralph is the cousin to one Wilie E. Coyote, unfortunate recipient of many a pummeling in his quest to apprehend the elusive Road Runner.
Ralph's task is to steal a flock of sheep, one by one, from under the watchful gaze of Sam the sheepdog. Only it's never quite that simple. Sam's incredibly vigilant, and while it's sometimes possible to grab a sheep while his eyes are momentarily averted, more often than not a more elaborate plan is required.
One such plan involves Ralph dressing up in a sheep costume and frolicking over to the herd on all fours. When Sam's attention is diverted, Ralph lets out a feminine bleat that attracts the male sheep, enabling him to snatch one away under the sheepdog's nose.
Subsequent levels see the introduction of ACME weaponry and gadgets to aid our plucky anti-hero in his tireless quest. Seesaws, rockets and bungee ropes are at your disposal to aid in capturing sheep, but the most intriguing device is the Chronometer.
This allows Ralph to travel back and forth in time, triggering events that will come to fruition at a different point in the fourth dimension.
For example, say Ralph travels back and plants a seed in the ground, when he then returns to the present, a huge tree will be standing in its place. Ralph can then use the tree in one of his cunning schemes. Clever, yes?
The best part is that it's all done with a sense of humor, something that's very tricky to get right in video games, ask The Simpsons. In fact, a staggering 98% of video game humor, according to a statistic I've just made up, falls flat on its arse.
So it's all the more impressive then, that Sheep, Dog 'N' Wolf manages to raise the occasional smile.
If there's one problem - and it's nothing huge - it would be the steep difficulty level. Working out how to snag yourself a sheep without alerting the dog takes quite some doing, and a good percentage of attempts results in a painful and humiliating death. You know the sort of thing - inadvertently being fired out of a cannon, falling over the side of the cliff....
But when most cartoon efforts are patronizing, cutesy kids rubbish, it's refreshing that Sheep, Dog 'N' Wolf provides a tough, lasting challenge for kids and adults alike.
So don't be put off by the gaudy cartoon visuals and lack of bloodshed, but be pleasantly surprised by its mix of stealthy gameplay and occasional laughs.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 10/19/02, Updated 10/19/02
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