by Marjolein Verheij
previewed on PC
A criminal crew
Did you ever want to pick locks, sneak around guards, crack safes? Thatís what Crookz is all about. This heist game, set in the 70s, lets you plan and execute break-ins with a team.
There are 6 playable characters in your criminal crew and each has his or her own specific strengths. The roster consists of a Bruiser, a Lockpicker, a Runner, a Technician, a Contortionist and a bond style robot. The first four are pretty self explanatory so Iíll skip right ahead to the other two. The contortionist can be used to squeeze into tight spaces and the robot is invisible to cameras and heat sensors. It will still be detected if it passes through a guardís peripheral vision though, and it canít bring any tools along on a heist.
Each heist has a limit to the number of crewmembers that you can bring, so your first task is to pick the right people for the each job. Characters have 4 skills and 3 tool slots. Some tools act as a Ďstand iní for character skills. A crowbar could be used by anyone to open a door, but with much more noise than the lockpicker would make. Chloroform can knock out guards, but will incapacitate them for a much shorter period than if you would have knocked them out with the Bruiser.
Of doors and switches
After you have chosen a crew, you first enter a planning phase. You are briefed on the goals and difficulties of the heist as well as a handful of gameplay hints. Often, but not always, the job involves an item that needs to be stolen and brought back. A blueprint shows its location, the placement of cameras, doors that need to be unlocked and any switches or other necessities you should know about prior to entering the staging area. In the beginning switches will just have one function, to open doors. Later on in the game they can also close doors again to avoid detection from guards. Some doors have a glimmer to indicate that guards expect it to be in a certain state. If it should be closed instead of open, passing guards will raise the alarm immediately.
Alerting guards is, of course, something you want to avoid. Other guards will also be more alert when they meet their alerted colleague. Knocked out guards will be woken by their colleagues and then join the search for you as intruders.
Being spotted, whether by a guard or a camera, will raise your Ďheat-o-meterí, which makes you lose points for the mission. Fortunately the game isnít too strict on how stealthy you are - Crookz wants to be ďa planning game with stealthĒ and not the other way around. To that end, switching off cameraís, for instance, wonít alert guards. A timer sits at the top during a mission. It counts up when you play in story mode and down when you play in challenge mode. The time spent on a heist is part of the score you get for the mission.
You can pause the game at any time to change tactics, routes to take, and guards to avoid or knock out. Clicking a guard will show the most direct route from your crewmember to that guard. To change it, you can simply drag the path so that it creates the route thatís most effective for your plan. If you want to sneak up on a guard you will want to approach him from behind instead of walking right up to him. If you need a reminder of which switches open what doors, you can call up an overlay that shows you the same blueprint that was shown during the briefing. On it, you can find usable objects, see guard patrol routes and much more.
If you are feeling particularly brave, you can opt to fulfill optional goals to boost your score. In most cases it will be finding treasure scattered around the rooms but there will be other objectives as well. Most heists are smaller ones that are in preparation of a big one further down the line. You could, for instance, be tasked to sabotage a power plant to cut off power to a nearby mansion which is the target for your next heist. Without power, the electronic security systems at the mansion will be disabled, lowering the difficulty rating for that specific job. There are usually 3 preparation heists for each Ďbossí heist.
Keep your coolz
Crookz looks easy enough at first glance, but upon further inspection you will find that itís a very strategic game with puzzle-like gameplay. Youíll need to keep your cool to guide your crew through this one.