Remember being “forced” to do group work in school? After attempting single-player, it’s clear that Monaco wants you to play with a bunch of strangers you’ve never worked with before (unless you have the fortune of picking out your partners in crime). It places a heavy emphasis on co-operative play in the sense that “no man gets left behind” and everyone relies on everyone else’s skills. Any lone-wolves will find that attempting to work alone will only make things worse. If you’re thinking of picking this one up, be prepared to work with others if you want to truly enjoy it.
The game tells the story of a group of criminals breaking out of prison and attempting to flee the country. Each character comes armed with a particular set of skills, and players work through the storyline for each character (as well as unlocking some new ones along the way). The storyline takes them through embassies, banks and cruise ships as they try to secure safe passage to anywhere-but-here.
Players need to sneak through each level and perform the main objective, which ranges from stealing passports to rescuing new characters. Completionists can attempt to collect all the coins in a level in the fastest time possible, with a time penalty added for any missed coins along the way.
Maps are busy and can be overwhelming at first glance, filled with icons and enemies, but the controls are simple enough. Characters can run, sneak, and use various items such as smoke bombs, firearms and tranquilizers, which are replenished by collecting coins. Interacting with objects is as simple as pushing into them, turning any character into a somewhat competent lockpicker or computer hacker.
Each character has their own particular trait that allows them to perform certain tasks quickly or have a passive ability, such as pacifying enemies or revealing their locations on the map. This is where Monaco shines: the skills complement each other to overcome the mess of traps, obstacles and enemies each map throws at you. A Lockpicker may be able to bust through doors quickly, but they don’t have any knowledge of enemy locations. A Cleaner may be adept at choking out an unsuspecting guard, but they need someone like the Mole to bash through a wall to get them out of a hairy situation. Single-player is an option in the game, and it’s certainly playable, but trying to clean out a level with only a single subset of abilities is tough, to say the least. The game necessitates that multiple players need to work together and pool strengths to succeed, especially since the stakes are high: all players need to reach the escape vehicle after completing the objective, or the level isn’t complete.
The game’s charming neon presentation and catchy soundtrack round off an otherwise solid co-operative game. You shouldn’t expect to be Val Kilmer and Robert De Niro in Monaco, but you can expect some nice co-op mechanics for your money.