Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine

9.5 Overall Score

Fantastic Characters | Co-Op Is A Blast | Everything Goes Wrong

Brutally Difficult

Heist situations are one of the most criminally underutilized scenarios in video games. Grand Theft Auto IV had a fantastic heist mission and Payday: The Heist made cooperative multiplayer heists a blast. Other than that, though, heists in video games are extremely rare. Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine, winner of the Grand Prize at the 2010 Independent Games Festival, hopes to make all your heist dreams a reality.

Monaco tells the story of a group of criminals who’ve recently escaped from prison. They must explore the vast criminal underground of Monaco and get their hands dirty if they ever want to escape from the police. As you progress through the story, you’ll meet with an additional four criminals, all with their own different personalities.

The thirty-three levels involve you trying to sneak into various areas, retrieve either a character or some trophy item, as well as picking up gold that is scattered throughout the level, and getting the hell out of the area before you are seen. The game has a top-down perspective, allowing you to get a somewhat more complete view of each level. However, the game masterfully restricts you from knowing everything about a level by limiting what you can see to what is in your line of sight. A similar system was utilized with last year’s Mark of the Ninja, and it works just as well here in giving you adequate information to sneak past enemies.

When playing solo, a big part of the game is about planning out almost all of your moves. Being that you are given limited information about levels based on what you can see, a big part of the game is knowing what strengths each of your characters have. When you start a level, you’ll have to choose which character you want to play as. The Locksmith can unlock doors quickly, the Lookout can see enemies’ locations on the map even when they are not looking directly at them, the Cleaner can knock out enemies and the Pickpocket has a pet monkey who will go off and steal gold without being seen. Learning which character is right for each level becomes crucial as you play alone.

There are also various items that you can pick up across a level, such as a shotgun or an EMP, which causes rolling blackouts. When you initially collect an item, you’ll only have a few uses for it so conserving your ammo is key. Additionally, you can only gain more ammo for your item by collecting ten pieces of gold in a level. It’s brilliant because you can never really go into an area guns blazing, as it forces you to strategically plan out when you want to use an item. You can also pick up a disguise but if you are seen for too long in it, you’ll alert the guards and be forced to think quickly to get hidden once again.

Guards have a huge variety of ways that they can catch you, as well. There are cameras that can spot you, guard dogs who will sniff out your scent and even laser trip wired doors. When you get caught (and you will), there’s a ton of chaos that starts to occur, as all of the guards on a level will do everything they can to hunt you down. Surviving the onslaught by either killing off guards or by hiding at just the right place is exhilarating. Monaco is at its best when everything goes wrong yet you still are able to survive.

This is best demonstrated in the game’s co-op. If playing solo was about carefully planning out everything that you can, co-op is about pure chaos. More often than not, one member of your crew will get spotted quickly and from that point on, the level becomes insanity. You can often use this to your advantage, as one member of the crew can get all of the guards away from the rest of the crew, allowing them to casually stroll into an area to steal everything in sight. However, you can’t advance in a level if one member of your crew dies, so often times one member of the team will have to go back to heal this player. This can cascade into even more insanity and it’s a blast to watch it all happen in the span of a few minutes.

That said, the game can be a bit brutal in difficulty, especially if you’re playing solo. Later levels will see you die multiple times before you can get close to completing a mission. And dying right before you escape can be heartbreaking. Additionally, if you want to experience the second half of the game, you need to get every piece of gold in every level, which can be incredibly tough to do.

However, in having everything go completely wrong, Monaco: What’s Yours is Mine gets almost everything right about heists. There’s a controlled chaos to both the co-op and single player experience that is unlike almost anything else in gaming. The characters all offer different play styles and there’s a ton of content. It’s one of the only games where, if everything goes wrong, you’re still extremely satisfied with the result and that is its greatest accomplishment.

A code for Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine was provided to The Married Gamers for review.

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Author: Addam Kearney View all posts by

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