Platforms: PC, PS4
Reviewed On: PC
Developer: Fabrik Games
Publisher: Fabrik Games
Multiplayer: 2-player co-op
Review copy provided free of charge by the publisher.
There’s something really awesome about heist movies and games, isn’t there? It’s why I love Ocean’s Eleven and am usually willing to give anything that promises bank robberies a go, including actual bank robberies. That brings us to Filthy Lucre, a game about getting in, snatching the loot and getting back out, usually while leaving a trail of dead bodies.
The premise is easy enough to understand; an aging heister (that’s a word, right?) takes you under his wing because he’s had everything taken away from him. He wants you to help him get it all back, by breaking into locations and stealing everything. Each mission is prefaced by some text that gives you some context for your goal, but story is not what Filthy Lucre is about.
In fact, Filthy Lucre is not a complicated game, nor does it attempt to do anything innovative. As strange as this might sound, these two reasons are why it works as well as it does. From your top-down perspective you’ll sneak through scrap yards, manors and high-rises in a bid to snag all of the loot. There’s always one primary objective, but on top of that there’s several secondary goals per mission that serve to tempt you into hanging around longer than you probably should.
Governing your shenanigans are some very basic systems. If you’re behind something solid the enemy can’t see you, so naturally sticking to cover makes sense if you want to stay unseen. There’s also some spots indicated by a green arrow that you can duck into to become completely invisible to anybody except for a few enemies who wield flashlights when searching for intruders. A sound meter in the upper left of the screen lets you know how much noise you’re making, although actually judging distances can be damn hard. With that said the game is actually very lenient in regards to noise as it’s entirely possible to shoot someone dead with an assault rifle in the same room as other guards without alerting anybody. Bodies can be packed into body bags and transported around in order to be hidden because obviously corpses tend to attract unwanted attention. To make those corpses you can just shoot people dead or go in for the close-quarters takedown, which won’t work on the heavy goons encountered in some missions. The final main thing to know is that there’s also a heat meter which will rise based on things like being spotted by cameras and the like, and should it get high enough reinforcements will arrive.
And that’s basically it. Like any good stealth game getting in and out without a hitch depends on taking the time to analyze the guard’s patterns and exploit them. Numerous things around the environment can be interacted with in order to lure unsuspecting guard’s into a vulnerable position where a well-placed crossbow bolt or a vicious neck snack can remove them from the equation. Exploration will typically reveal panels for disabling cameras to make your job easier, or to turn off the alarm system entirely. On top of that you’ve got a few gadgets that can help, such as stun mines, noise makers and even frag grenades if you fancy going in for the full-frontal assault approach.
Speaking of which it’s possible to tackle missions with guns ‘a blazing if you want, but frankly it’s not as fun because as a shooter Dirty Lucre isn’t that good. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t bad since the controls feel responsive enough and accurate, but compared to dedicated twinstick shooters there’s something missing.
Or you could go for the much harder approach by getting through the levels without killing. It’s possible, but does require some serious patience and judicious use of distractions to keep guards busy. The reward is insane levels of smugness when you pull it off. Worth it? Worth it.
Whether you happen to kill everybody or sneak through without touching a hair on a guard’s head there’s immense satisfaction to be gained from getting through a level, nailing every secondary objective and escaping with the sweet, sweet loot. It’s a bit less satisfying to shoot your way out of a problem, but those moments don’t detract too much from the experience. Your performance will be measured on the global leaderboards, with points awarded for remaining unseen, taking no damage, making off with the secret collectible and more. In other words, the guns blazing approach may be possible, but the point scoring system rewards the stealthy. It also rewards killing everybody, too. Man, games really are bloodthirsty.
But like many stealth games you’ve certainly got to suspend your disbelief to enjoy it all. It’s nice that guards will notice important objects missing and therefore assume somebody is nearby, but they don’t have the same level of reverence for their comrades apparently. Other guards going missing isn’t a problem, and like I mentioned earlier nearby gunfights get ignored entirely. Obviously the idea behind this is to make it so that one mistake doesn’t set the entire level on high alert, but it also means that gunning your way out of a situation feels like the lazy option because it carries little consequence.
I’d also like to have seen a little variability introduced into guard’s patrol behavior. They move back and forth in rigid patterns, and while that does mean you can analyse those patterns and then move through the gaps I personally like to have a little randomness to deal with, too, although that may not be to everyone’s tastes.
Between missions you’ll be able to make use of that loot by purchasing new gear that gets unlocked as you level up. There’s nothing too exotic to be found, perhaps with the exception of a device which can hide multiple corpses within a small area. However, there is some objectively better stuff. For example, the silenced pistol may be nice, even if you can’t take out someone in a single shot like the pistol bow, but why have that when you can have an assault rifle with a silencer? Exactly.
All that loot-robbing can be lonely, though, which is why the game has both local co-op and online co-op. Everything stays exactly the same, except you get another player trundling about the place and the inevitable arguments about who mucked up first.
Built in the Unity Engine there are a shortage of graphical options, which is to say you basically choose between a few presets and that’s it. It’s not a demanding game, though, so you shouldn’t have any problems running it. I also noted that while 3440 x 1440 is supported it’s not true widescreen as you’ll be left with huge black borders at the side of the screen, as proven by the screenshots, which is a bit of bummer. Ah well. But graphically it does look quite reasonable with a nice level of detail within the environments. The animations could be a bit better, but otherwise it looks just fine. The audio doesn’t hold up quite as well with instantly forgettable music and passable voice acting.
But what the game doesn’t seem to be lacking is polish. Aside from a body getting stuck in a door and a few instances of snagging the environment there were no major bugs or issues to get in the way of carefully casing the joint before robbing it blind.
Going in to Filthy Lucre I really didn’t know what to expect. I hadn’t viewed any trailers and prior to the Email asking if I wanted to check it out I hadn’t even realised it was to be released. So imagine my surprise to discover that it’s actually a really good heist ’em up. Sure, it can be fairly criticised for its simplicity and lack of any really new or exciting features. It’s a simple game, but that didn’t stop me from having a blast with it, and its simplicity is its strength, providing the player with a basic set of rules and letting them get on with sneaking around.
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