Shhh. Forgive me for whispering, but I’m currently hiding in a bush.
Welcome to Monaco, a challenging comedy concerning classic crime capers . Whether bank or glamorous mansion, nowhere is safe from the nimble fingers of the locksmith or his friends as you’re tasked with purloining a number of precariously protected props across this prestigious principality.
At its most basic level, Monaco is a very simple game. Dashing round a map, you’ll gather up sparkling gold tokens whilst avoiding the patrolling guards – a simple palette swap and we could be looking at a dark and gritty reboot of Pacman. But Monaco is so much more than that. Packed with character and style, it’s definitely worthy of carrying the name of that most glamorous of locations.
Presented in a top down low-resolution style, your view of the game is restricted to only what’s in your characters immediate viewpoint. As a result, you can easily find yourself blundering into a room packed with guards, or unwittingly stumble across a jackpot haul. To even things up a little, each member of your burglary team brings their own talent to the field. The locksmith can, for example, spring a lock in a matter of seconds, whilst the lookout can spot patrolling guards from a great distance away.
Your biggest enemy, however, is not the patrolling guardsmen, it’s time itself. Everything you do, be it picking a lock, hacking a computer or even climbing a ladder takes time – time you just don’t have. When infra-red sensors are sweeping the area and a guard dog is just about to round the corner, the progress circle becomes the bane of your life.
However, although Monaco rewards perfection with high scores, it doesn’t punish you too harshly for failure either. If you stroll carelessly into a guard’s field of view, you’ve still got a moment’s opportunity to back quickly out of sight, and with small maps meaning levels generally take no longer than five or ten minutes, even a complete screw-up is not the end of the world. Unlike the majority of stealth games, you won’t be reaching for the quick-load key immediately following a poor decision, and not only because there isn’t one.
Monaco is at its most fun when things go wrong. It’s all very well sneaking your way through a legion of guards, but it’s how you react after inadvertently stepping on a cat that sorts the George Clooneys from the George Formbys. Keep calm and work together and you can easily take advantage of the ensuing chaos, but mess up and you’ll be locked up quicker than it takes Michael Caine to come up with a great idea. Add multiplayer into the mix and you’ll be cursing your friends clumsy ineptitude as often as you’ll be praising their brilliance.
Accompanying your exploits are a series of exquisitely appropriate plink-plonk piano tunes, reminiscent of the silent era of cinema. The remarkable tracks are produced by Austin Wintory, Grammy-nominated composer known for his work on Journey. It’s a splendid touch that compliments your mad-cap antics with a touch of the comedic – you may be robbing people of their worldly goods, but it’s hard to take things too seriously when failure is often down to treading on an errant cat or spooking a flock of pigeons.
Whilst it’s not particularly deep, Monaco has no pretensions of presenting a real look at the criminal underworld. It’s as realistic a depiction of criminal activity as the Italian Job, and as a result the game is a high intensity game that’s as fast paced and full of energy as Hotline Miami.
Grab a few drinks, get some friends together and prepare for some hilarious high-jinks.
Verdict – Head Shot
Platforms Available – PC, 360
Platform Reviewed – PC
Review based on a copy provided by the developer
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