Filthy Lucre PS4 Review
Publisher: Fabrik Games Developer: Fabrik Games Genre: Stealth/Action
Players: 1-2 Age Rating: 16+ Other console/handheld formats: N/A
Let’s start by getting one thing clear – despite even the developer advertising this game as a shooter, first and foremost Filthy Lucre is all about stealth. Yes, you could go into a level guns blazing, but the game mostly encourages stealth with all the game mechanics geared towards stealthy gameplay.
In Filthy Lucre, your job is to rob, burgle and loot different building types and environments, such as a manor, bank, a scrapyard, a high-rise and other such places. You choose from one of 8 characters and they are tasked with entering one of these areas with there being a main goal for you to achieve and other challenges located around the environment for you to complete as well, which earns you experience points to level up your skills and money to buy more weapons and gear once you have reached the required level. The concept of the game is a simple one and Filthy Lucre is a game that doesn’t really bring anything new to the stealth genre, only simplifying what we have already seen. The only difference is that this game is played with a top-down view which allows the player to have more of a visual coverage of an area – just about.
Filthy Lucre for me was a trial and error based game; you go into a level, take down some of the roaming enemies, nick some loot, all whilst learning the patterns of the enemies movements and what rooms are where, so that if you are caught and die, you will know better next time around. The game has been criticised for having poor AI and whilst you can kill an enemy within 3 feet of another or sneak by them or near to them clearly in their line of sight without them reacting, that’s not to say the game isn’t without its challenges. It took me numerous attempts to complete a level – if you aim for the main goal and then exit the game, it makes for quite the easy time, though if you also aim for the extra challenges, then you’ll be setting up much more of a challenge for yourself as you take that bit longer to find and loot everything you can whilst avoiding capture by the enemy. Another element that ups the ante is the fact that if you die, you have to start the level right from the beginning – there are no checkpoints in the game and with some of the areas being quite vast, you do have to use your stealth skills tactically.
The skills that you go into a level with are very simple – it’s all about duck and cover, your character hiding and sneaking around furniture, walls, cupboards, tables, filing cabinets and other objects in the environment, and steadily making their way down hallways, corridors and other open areas, keeping an eye out for any wandering enemies. You are armed with a gun and a couple of secondary weapons and you can try and go into a level without knocking out anyone or you can go in and take down as many of the enemies as possible, which makes your final escape a lot quicker and easier, especially as for the most part the exit is where you start from. You could take down enemies by sneaking up behind them and breaking their necks or use objects in the environment to draw the enemies attention and then sneak up behind them and break their necks, or just sneak past if you are opting not to kill anyone. If you choose to go in guns blazing it ups the challenge just that bit more as you’ll obviously be drawing enemy attention to yourself as well as the bullets from their guns and, as mentioned, if you die, you have to start all over. Fortunately I found though that the enemies in the game must have hearing damage from shooting so many guns; if you shoot an enemy in a room – before they are aware of your presence – any other enemies in that room will hear and start shooting at you, though enemies in any other rooms don’t and so won’t come to their co-workers aid, even if they are only next door.
What makes this game more of a stealth game than a shooter is the presence of a Heat meter and going in guns blazing will increase this Heat, which is something that you don’t want. There are 4 levels and the more you confront enemies, the more your Heat increases and if it reaches level 4, you are given 60 seconds to escape. If you don’t manage to escape then you are in for a rough time as the hit squad will be sent in, and they are relentless. Your Heat acts as any other stealth games alarm bell, a meter that increases with every enemy that notices you and with every dead body that they find. Enemies can also call for backup, so even if only the enemies in one room confront you if they see you, if you don’t take them out quickly enough then you will soon find yourself surrounded by enemies trying to get you. Ammo is scarce in the game – there are ammo boxes where you can refill, though if you are under fire and run out of ammo, the best option I found was to run and hide as it takes just a bit too long trying to find and then pick up an enemies weapon under such heated circumstances. Once your Heat reaches level 4, it never decreases meaning enemies will always be on alert from then on, which means you’ll have to be extra vigilant if you do manage to escape and can continue the level.
In all honesty, for me the levels became very repetitive and tedious and this is largely because there are no checkpoints. Perhaps it is something that I have become accustomed to in modern gaming, as Filthy Lucre plays more like a game of old where you try a level, memorise it (there are no maps in the game), and then go back and try again if you fail, though in a game such as this, checkpoints would have been very welcome. The frustration starts setting in when you complete so much of a level, have looted everything you can possibly find, have managed to complete some of the set challenges and are very close to the final goal post, only to die and then need to start all over. For more experienced gamers, they might find it a breeze to play a game such as this, though for more casual players, they will find Filthy Lucre fun at first, but quickly becoming a bit of a chore. Thankfully the game does give you the option to play levels in any order you want, so if you want a breather, you can move on to something else.
Playing alone is an option, but playing with someone else in co-op mode will make things all the more fun, and slightly easier, especially the whole ‘guns blazing’ approach to gameplay. Two players can play in co-op mode (locally and online) and with an extra player, that means more ammo. The gameplay with an additional player is still trial and error, though some levels are made easier to complete with someone else helping. During combat you aim your gun using the analogue stick – which has never been my favourite way to aim a gun in a game – and can move it about in a 360 degree circle. I found the aiming and shooting to be a bit finicky at first, and also found that I was concentrating too much on how much ammo was left in my gun. I did begin to realise that once your gun is low on ammo, you can pick up an enemy’s weapon and this does make all the difference to whether you are successful. Secondary weapons include all the usual gear such as noise makers, stun grenades, frag grenades and, strangely, body hider, which allows you to hide a set number of bodies.
Playing in co-op I found there was a lot of lag in the hideout – where your characters are residing – though it thankfully sorts itself out in the actual levels. You can also play co-op online, though it is a game where communication is vital and if you don’t use a headset, it can cause quite the frustration when you can’t tell your teammate to pick up the weapon next to them to help them during a shoot-out or warn them of an approaching enemy. Another slight bug I experienced was the loss of sound effects or looping sound effects continuing when it should have ended, though it isn’t so severe that it disrupts gameplay.
Story-wise, this was definitely not the biggest draw for me and I didn’t really understand what the story was about at all. There weren’t any cut-scenes, and you get the gist that you are working for someone, though the story never really caught my attention. Filthy Lucre has a dark British sense of humour, with enemies calling out their comrades names if they see their dead bodies and the boss you work for talking in a typical London-Cockney accent, giving the game a very gangster/organised crime feeling. The characters you play as are also unnamed – there is no information about them at all, besides them being noticeably male or female. The characters that you play as don’t even affect the gameplay; they really are cookie cutter characters with different designs, and nothing else. Filthy Lucre is definitely gameplay-focused and I feel is more focused towards multiplayer gameplay than single-player. As mentioned during levels, NPC call out the names of their co-workers, though this is the only bit of character ‘development’ in the game – needless to say, don’t go into this expecting the story to be deep.
Graphically the game is decent and characters move fluidly, though given the fact there are a total of 15 levels, for the first part of the game, there isn’t much variation in the environments you play in. You are given five areas, with the 5th area having to be unlocked depending on your skill rank. These areas include the aforementioned scrapyard, manor, water works, high-rise and bank, with each area having three levels to unlock. However, for the first 10 levels you’ll be playing in these five environments, with the only variation being that they become larger when you unlock the next level of that area, adding to the repetitiveness. Musically the game has a very subdued soundtrack which is the same throughout each area, with the music only changing as your Heat increases.
Overall, Filthy Lucre just doesn’t quite live up to the mark for me. The gameplay becomes very repetitive and annoying when you have to start all over again and even when you begin a new level, there isn’t much variation in gameplay. At least one checkpoint in the levels would have been very welcome with how large some of them can be, and it can feel very unfair when you have completed so many of the challenges, only to die at the hands of the enemies. I began to feel very jaded with this game and couldn’t even complete it – there’s always the risk of your luck changing in an instant and whilst this does add tension, after the umpteenth time trying a level, what starts out as a fun and immersive game quickly starts to grate on you.