Filthy Lucre. Money; originally, money obtained dishonestly. I didn’t know that the term was slang for ill-gotten gains but it soon became very clear to me. Some bad ‘uns have stolen an East End gangster’s cash and he’s hired you to get it back. You’re going in to steal from them what they stole from him. That’s pretty much the extent of the plot here but it’s the style that helps elevate.
Filthy Lucre is billed as a heist game, a game which you can play your way. Whether you want to do the objectives in a specific order or go full-blown stealth or all out shooting, it’s up to you. Controlled from a top-down style the game plays in the vein of a twin-stick shooter, with left stick moving and right stick aiming. You begin in a hub level which starts with you climbing out the back of an inconspicuous white van into a garage.
The hub level serves as your options screen – so whether it’s kitting out your equipment or customising your character (which is merely choosing one of eight different appearances). From here you can choose a mission (four are available from the start with subsequent levels within their same themes unlocking as you go) or start a co-op game (the whole game is playable co-op). My first choice was to try the warehouse level.
As you jump back into the van and head to the level you’re presented with a few options. Your primary objective is highlighted for you but you can cycle between a few different secondary objectives – all for bonus points which in turn will unlock better equipment for you. These are optional and going for all of them will increase the challenge. Of course trying for them all increases the difficulty as the longer you are in a level, the more likely you are going to get caught.
The main reason for this is that Filthy Lucre, despite claims you can play it however you want to, isn’t really set up to let you play it however you want. Your main options are stealth or guns blazing, and it’s very much designed for stealth. If you make yourself noticed the threat level rises – if it hits a certain level them armoured guards come in and hunt you. They are super hard to kill and you are super easy to kill – a bad combination. So you’ll find yourself sneaking around and taking down guards with stealth attacks – animated fairly averagely. This is probably most similar to Metal Gear Solid, in terms of the camera (a 3D top-down perspective) and the way the controls work. It’s not as fluid as Metal Gear and the AI isn’t as good – they will often not hear gunfire and sometimes manage to spot you with incredible vision, other times will be blind as a bat. There are no cones of vision to guide you so have to try and judge it yourself which would be fine if it were more consistent.
Oddly there is no option to move bodies (until you get an upgrade later in the game by way of equipment). This really limits your effective usage of stealth and it becomes (in the early game) a question ‘when’ you are discovered opposed to ‘if’. The game allows you to bank any goods you’ve stolen by exiting the level to the van at any point, so if it gets too hot you can back out and try again, storing your points. This helps get better gear to try and complete the levels but does feel a bit like a grind at first.
The alternative to stealth is really a non-option. The combat is tough – the area of view is limited with only a slight scroll across the map possible and enemies’ lines of sight are much greater than your screen width allows. Aiming is hard with limited auto-aim available on your 360 degrees of possible shooting, and it takes many shots to kill an enemy – and much less to kill you. You should avoid combat at all opportunity really which limits the options. Distractions are possible – certainly more so in co-op but at the time of writing, I was unable to successfully connect to a co-op partner to try this out.
The voice acting is good if you like Lock, Stock and Snatch etc. but it’s played very seriously and lacks the humour of those influences. Ultimately this sort of thing has done much better by way of MGS for stealth but even more so in Monaco which has a very different art style but handles the heist concept significantly better.
There’s a reasonable amount of levels on hand here although you’ll quickly see all of the environments on offer and experience all the gameplay which is a bit of a shame. I was pretty excited about this but I was left craving a better heist caper.
Reviewed on PS4