Monaco: What’s Yours Is Mine could really just be called Monaco: What You Make of It.
It’s not that Monaco’s gameplay is overly complicated. At its core, this is one of the more simplified crime-themed titles you’ll likely ever get your hands on. You need to master all of three buttons or so in this top-down, pixilated “heist game” that developer Pocketwatch Game has released via Valve’s Steam platform.
Monaco isn’t Rainbow Six. In many ways, it’s difficult to pre-plan for some of the twists and turns the game’s AI throws your way. Sneaking your way through a level works wonders until a random, nearby phone starts ringing and guards start a-rushing to answer it. The game’s unique “fog of war”–like effect perfectly renders exactly what you can and cannot see within a level based on where you happen to be hiding. You can even stop and listen for nearby guards; the game highlights their walking paths with footsteps directly on your map.
We love Monaco’s line-of-sight mechanism, even as much as it ruins our stellar planning.
Invariably, though, something will hit the fan in Monaco: Your planning will go awry, you’ll sneak into a room from a tight corridor only to find a guard or civilian staring directly at you, or perhaps you’ll just get tired of stealth and opt for a little run-and-gun burglary. And that’s where Monaco truly shines, especially in the game’s more frantic multiplayer mode.
You and three of your fellow cronies—found over the Internet, your local LAN, or via hot-seat gaming using a single monitor with multiple keyboards/controllers/etc.—all pick a character class and work your way through the level using voice chat (we recommend) or text (you’re crazy). The classes and characters can complement each other. For example, when one of you picks The Lookout, all can then see the footsteps of nearby guards in adjoining rooms.
And, naturally, when one of you screws the pooch and raises alarms—which in turn, raises the franticness of the game’s lovely 1920s-themed piano score—it’s a mad dash for guns, exits, hiding places… you name it. Hello, survival-at-any-costs.
While we generally enjoyed our criminal career, we think that Monaco could be improved a bit by more directly tying use of the game’s characters to its levels. We liked being able to just stick to our favorites to beat the game’s single-player campaign, but Pocketwatch could better incentivize the use of underused or ill-fitting characters via achievements or other unlockables.
We would also love to see a bit more variety in the missions themselves: Perhaps a more spy-themed Monaco spinoff could make us feel like the Tom Cruise we’ve always wanted to be, instead of just a mere cat burglar who occasionally punches through walls while collecting hundreds of items scattered around a map (to unlock additional levels). Monaco’s multiplayer is absurdly fun; its single-player campaign feels like someone stole the wind from the game’s sails just a wee bit.