Is it Third Time Lucky for Bob the Robber?
Brought to mobile by Kizi Games, Bob the Robber 3 looks to improve on its predecessors. With a fresh look, new story and tweaked mechanics, is it third time lucky?
A New Mission
This time around, Bob has been recruited by the secret service. Sent to retrieve something from a foreign entity, he’s been given something of a gear upgrade. Gone are the traditional black and white stripes, replaced by an outfit inspired (or copied) from Splinter Cell – right down to the three-lensed night vision goggles.
If you’ve not played a Bob the Robber game before, the aim is to get from the top of a level down to the bottom without setting off any alarms. Along the way, you’ll need to enter keycodes, avoid security cameras, knock out guards and use a range of gadgets to get past other security systems.
Bob himself is adept at sneaking around, and can hide masterfully within shadowed areas. In a useful piece of visual feedback, Bob will don the night vision goggles whenever he’s fully immersed. Quite how guards fail to spot the three overly bright lights coming from the head of a rotund man in a rubber suit I’m not sure – but if it works, it works.
Movement is simple enough – tap the screen to tell Bob where to go, tap Bob to make him interact with an object where available.
Don’t Get Caught
Should you find yourself too slow to avoid the eye line of a guard of the lens of a security camera, the alarm will sound and you’ll need to either start again from the beginning of the level or from the last save point that you activated.
The save points are a little annoying. They require five batteries to use, which you can find at various points throughout the levels. One issue here is that the batteries are ‘contained’ within boxes, crates, lockers and other various objects around the levels. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t do enough to distinguish between what’s part of the scenery and what’s actually something that can be looted.
For a game that requires a certain amount of forward planning in order to successfully plot your way through the levels, this comes as a harsh contrast – as you’ll constantly be surprised by the pop-up icon indicating that you can collect something. They’re usually within close proximity to a turning camera or patrolling guard, too.
The next issue with the save points is that they can also be activated by viewing an ad. Now, this could be worse. They could be activated through microtransactions. That would be much worse. However, the issue with the adverts is that I’ve seen two different ones that lasted over thirty seconds. These ads take you completely out of the game – and after the longer ones, you need a second to regain your bearings. Continue Reading
Release Date: 28/09/2016
Available on: iOS, Android
Game Play Video
The Right Tools for the Job
The previous games featured minigames that had to be completed in order to get past certain objects. These have returned in Bob the Robber 3, and they work much better on the mobile platform thanks to some small tweaks. They’re a little less complex than they were previously and are dead easy to operate even with the biggest of fingers on the smallest of screens.
Doors that are padlocked require use of the lockpick, which sees you attempting to shoot a metal pole up through the tumblers, which move from side to side on their own or via use of the arrow controls on either side. As you get further into the game, the locks will have multiple levels that you need negotiate your way through. Failing will put you right back to the start and eat away at your time.
Other minigames require you to cut the correct electrical wire. One will be the key to success, the others will set off the alarm and fail your run. Again, this is a simple little diversion that is a big enough departure from the rest of the game that it helps to break up any feeling of monotony that might creep in from Bob’s rather slow, light-footed movement.
Snakes and Ladders
Each level is full of a combination of elevators, stairs and walled off compartment. Each floor can have up to four stairs which will take you up or down to different sections on another floor. Sometimes you need to go through or past a couple of guards or security measures just to get between two floors – there’s a fair amount of backtracking which makes the game less straightforward than it might first appear.
There are several enemies that are on the lookout for anything suspicious – namely you – ranging from scientists who can’t fight back but will run off to trigger the alarm, to guards that you knock out, to armed soldiers who you can only sneak past. Later on there are even mummies, for some reason.
A Little Out of Place
There are some things, though, that don’t feel quite right about Bob the Robber 3. First and foremost, the controls are a little inaccurate. Quite often, the ‘x’ marker that appears when you’ve tapped the screen to move Bob does not line up with where you actually touched, which can then mean that he won’t be able to interact with an object until you nudge him along slightly. In areas where timing is critical, this can lead to a lot of failures that aren’t really your fault, which can introduce frustration.
The next issue is that Bob moves slowly. It feels like you spend a lot of time just waiting around for Bob to finish moving. The control scheme used makes the game feel less interactive than the previous, browser based games – and I feel this is something that could have been avoided had they just sped Bob up a step.
There are also a few design decisions that clash with the game’s genre. First of all, the levels are timed and your star rating depends on how quickly you get through them. This issue ties in with the control problems mentioned above – you’re punished because the game doesn’t react accurately enough to your input. I would have preferred to see the game reward players for finishing levels without being partially spotted or having to knock out NPCs.
Also, the game doesn’t respond well to rapid touches. Sometimes, you’ll need to get somewhere and tap again almost immediately (especially when the game hasn’t quite moved Bob to where you want him to go) – and the game won’t detect that. This is intensely frustrating when it results in you failing a level and having to go back either to the start or a save point.
Bob the Robber 3 is available for Android devices free of charge. It’s certainly not a bad game, and the value it offers by being free is hard to ignore. That being said, I still feel like this is a series that hasn’t quite achieved what it could have due to a couple of design issues. It’s not a complete bust - but nor is it the gaming equivalent of robbing a corner shop and finding the Crown Jewels in the safe, either.
Bob the Robber 3 is developed by Kizi.