by Matt Porter
previewed on PC
Everyone knows the 1970s is the best heist era. Stealing stuff to a funky soundtrack while the criminals are all wearing flares and sporting afros is just… right. And as much as I’m opposed to anything that uses a ‘Z’ to pluralise it, Crookz looks set to be a game that’s going to steal my heart, not to mention my money, when it releases next year.
I had a chance to play Crookz at a recent event hosted by publisher Kalypso in London. The event was held in a church that was built in the 70s too, the 1270s that is. Somewhat out of place for a flamboyant 70s game, the location made perfect sense for another game being shown, Grand Ages: Medieval.
Knock on the head
Back to Crookz, the game is set in San Francisco. You control a team of master thieves, going on heists and tracking down a colleague who betrayed you. The game is all about planning and execution. You aren’t the sort of team to leave a trail of bodies behind. In fact you won’t be using much violence at all beyond knocking out the occasional guard.
Each mission begins with a planning phase. You can look over your target, which can be anything from an expensive mansion to a shipyard playing home to precious cargo. You can see where the guards are stationed, what their patrol routes are, check out locked doors and if there’s any remote way of opening them, and so on. You choose the best team for the job based on the information. The lockpicker can open doors, obviously. The runner is faster than the others, and able to slip by guards easier. The bruiser can knock out guards for a short time. There will be six characters to choose from, and you can take four of them on a mission at one time.
Even when you’re actually on the mission you’ll need to be planning ahead and accommodating for every eventuality. You’re able to set waypoints and commands really easily. For example, you might want to get your team in position and have them all do separate tasks at the same time. It’s a simple task of telling them where to go, telling them to wait there, and giving them the go ahead by clicking an icon on their character portrait when everyone is ready. It’s an easy to use system, but it allows you to set up complex strategies.
Guards are fairly dumb, to say the least, but they do have good hearing. Loud actions have noise cones associated with them, and if the guards hear you using a crowbar to open a door, they’ll come running. But, if you sneak up on them you can knock them out with the bruiser (he gives them a quite brutal headbutt, and then a swift kick while they’re on the ground for good measure). Or you could even use some chloroform with any character if you happened to bring some with you. You’ll be buying all kinds of handy items like these before each mission - think explosives and camera jammers.
Jeremy is on board
By the way, you might want to check out the hilarious live action trailer which features Ron Jeremy. Oh yeah, I’m sure you don’t know who that is. Developer Skilltree Studios, under the Kalypso Media banner, are really committing to the theme, not only with the 70s music and dress sense, but also with the story. It slowly becomes crazier and crazier, and of course there’s an evil villain with an underwater base, because, well why not?
The final game will ship with 20 missions, and you’ll be able to create and share your own using the challenge mode system. Crookz is part methodical planning, part high pace execution, and it’ll be looking to infiltrate your game collection before you know it.