by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
Tough, but Doable
When you are playing alone, Monaco is tough. After a fairly simple few missions, the subsequent levels are littered with guards and security cameras and pressure sensitive pads. Setting off an alarm causes everyone in the vicinity to rush to your last known location, and if they spot you will continue to follow until you get out of sight. The AI of the guards is not good, but this is partly by design so that the missions are not impossible. Running around a corner and hiding in a bush is usually enough to reset the guards back to their normal patrol patterns, but you can only take a limited amount of punishment before you go down. Guards with ranged weapons are brutal, but even the basic melee enemies pack a punch. If you do die, that character is unavailable to you for the rest of the mission, and you must continue with another. However, you only have three lives, meaning that once three members of your crew are down, you will have to restart the whole mission over again. Especially during the later, more tricky missions, the difficulty was mildly frustrating, but the majority of the game felt top notch.
Each level can be completed using just a single character, however I found some more useful than others. I rarely found myself wanting to choose The Pickpocket as, although being able to sneakily collect coins is fine, he did not have a good way of getting past security. I found myself usually resorting to The Cleaner or The Hacker, in order to deal with guards or computer systems easily. It is nice to have such a broad range of characters open for selection though. There are items scattered throughout the world to help the weaker characters, ranging from smoke bombs and tranquilizer darts right up to rapid firing guns and EMPs. Killing a guard leaves their skeleton behind, and anyone who spots it will be suitably spooked. You are able to hide the skeletons out of sight though. Collecting coins grants you more charges for whatever item you have picked up, so you get more ammo for guns, more smoke bombs and so on.
Fun With Friends
Single player is fun, but it is in multiplayer that Monaco really shines. Up to four players can take part in a mission, each taking on different roles. The difference here being that if one player goes down, other players can go and revive them. Multiplayer allows you to gather up all the coins in a level quicker and allows you to combine skills together to aid the heist. For example, a hacker could turn off all the security systems in the vault, allowing the locksmith to quickly run in and grab all the cash before the guards are any the wiser. Having more people does allow for more chaos though. Even in times of panic, however, the game is still fun to play; perhaps even more so. Having four party members sneaking around, only for one to trigger an alarm causing all hell to break loose is comedy gold. Everyone scarpers for the nearest hiding spot while guards run in all directions looking for intruders. When you have completed your objective for the level, everyone must make it back to the escape vehicle, usually meaning you have to go back through the building the way you came. This usually devolves into a mad rush for the exits with hordes of guards in tow. It is fantastically frantic.
Although frustratingly hard in places, most of the time Monaco is a delight to play. It looks great, has a wonderfully fitting soundtrack, and has simple gameplay while maintaining a high level of precision required to be really successful. Stealthing through a level is rewarding, but it remains fun even if you are spotted. The multiplayer experience is the main draw for this game, so if you have a few friends looking for something new and interesting, direct them to this.
An excellent stealth game and a high paced caper all rolled into one. Unique aesthetic and soundtrack.
Some levels seem too difficult, especially in single player. The AI is not all that intelligent.