Andy Schatz gave us a bunch of Monaco review builds so I’m going to tell you why I think you should buy it.
I like that every one of the eight character classes has exactly one special ability that makes them seem ludicrously overpowered. They’re all balanced to FEEL unbalanced, which is great (I spent about an hour playing with the Redhead, certain that she way too powerful. Then, I spent an hour playing with the Gentleman and felt exactly the same way. I haven’t spent a lot of time with the Hacker, Lookout, Locksmith or Pickpocket but I imagine they’re at least comparatively as fun to use).
I’ll be honest, though: it took me a little while before Monaco sunk its teeth into me. I spent the first half of the Locksmith’s story just running around and letting guards take potshots at me — I was having fun, but it was the sort of scowl-faced, shoulder-shrugging fun that’s pretty easy to walk away from once you’ve finished a mission. Later, however, I started acting carefully — started holding the sneak button down a hell of a lot more, started really leveraging my character’s special abilities and hiding in bushes, started moving close to doors and walls so I could see the footsteps of nearby guards on the other side. And then it clicked.
You start learning to use ladders and ducts to move around. You make strategic decisions about which alarms you’re okay with setting off and which you aren’t. You learn, without being told, that some pieces of loot are hidden under stationary civilians, but that if you’re really careful you can sneak up and grab the loot without them noticing. Or maybe you just choose the Pickpocket class and let your monkey grab the loot for you. Or you go Cleaner and knock the civilian out before grabbing the money. Or you grab a disguise, or a smoke bomb, or a shotgun, and use that to get what you want.You begin to really appreciate the fact that you only have one of three buttons to press at any given time, and that you can interact with every single object in the environment just by moving toward it and waiting for a progress bar to fill, or that you always know where the enemy last saw you and where any uncollected money is on the map. Like Mark of the Ninja, Monaco is dedicated to giving you a lot of information and stuff to do while making everything really, really easy to parse and execute.
I unfortunately haven’t gotten to spend much time with the multiplayer, but I really want to. My suspicion — and I can’t know this for sure, but I have a hunch — is that if you get four people together who understand the pacing of the game and don’t run around like chickens with their heads cut off, you can get into some cool Ocean’s Eleven-type situations: “you hack that computer and shut off the security camera so the Locksmith can quickly get the safe open and — oh crap, there’s a guard, Redhead you distract him and I’ll knock his ass out…” and so on.
Not to mention, the game is LONG. I’ve played the game for several hours and I don’t think I’m halfway through it yet. So if you’re one of those people who complains that $15 is too much money for a short game (I hate you, by the way) you don’t have anything to whine about here.
You can buy Monaco here, on Steam, or on Xbox Live. Here’s a trailer: