A poor cockney mob boss has had all his stuff stolen, and it’s your job to get it back, with some revenge mixed in for good measure. In Filthy Lucre, you will find yourself alternately sneaking and shooting your way around levels while liberating cash, stealing back jewellery, and even destroying “carrot” growing operations in your mission to return your boss to the top of the pile of organised crime.
This is an isometric twin stick game that presents itself as the place to go for pulling off the perfect heist. It has a stealth system in which noise-based distractions are all the rage and twin stick shooting for when all hell breaks loose. While both systems do the job, they ultimately fail to inspire due to a few foibles and a lack of new ideas.
Stealth consists almost entirely of distracting guards with a noise, whether using equipment or an environmental object, and then taking out the guard silently from behind while they stare, dumbfounded, at the source of the noise for five seconds. Usefully, only one guard will investigate an object at a time regardless of whether or not there are others in range, providing the most conspicuously easy way to separate enemies from the pack ever devised.
Alternatively, you can kill a guard in view of the security camera and then take out the one that comes to investigate, the body of which will then cause yet another nearby guard to investigate. Rinse and repeat for the easiest ever way to clear out large groups of enemies provided you don’t mind the increased attention. However, the shooting can be an issue, as you can’t aim for a head shot (or a security camera) as you would in most gun-related stealth games, and guns tend take more than one hit to down an enemy.
Whenever you are noticed or a body is found, the heat level will increase, unless you manage to stop the guard from radioing it in with some swift retribution. The higher the level goes the bigger the response whenever you are spotted, so if you aren’t great at sneaking around you will likely learn to be great at the shooting, despite how finicky it is. Reach heat level four and a timer will appear, at the end of which armoured guards will emerge to hunt you down. Security cameras are disabled only by finding the computer that controls them, but they are easy to avoid regardless due to their remarkably limited field of view.
Despite the game’s claims of realistic AI that will react convincingly, the enemies you are up against are quite dumb. Their searches are a little haphazard and enemies occasionally just stop looking entirely, appearing to be stuck at a door, peering around the frame. They often manage to miss non-suppressed gunshots from a room over, as well as occasionally just not bothering to actually investigate a suspicious noise that they did hear, such as a door being kicked open into a colleague’s face. A similar lack of depth is present during combat, as enemies will gladly enter through one door in single file, giving you the best possible conditions for efficient injections of lead. It feels like there is a lack of coordination between groups of hostiles, which shatters any illusions of realism the AI could have inspired.
Missions themselves will put you into one of five environments with a list of objectives – steal cash, obtain incriminating photos, reclaim jewellery, that kind of thing – and sets you loose. Each mission also has challenges for you to attempt, such as completing the primary mission undetected, as well as a hidden antique for you to liberate. The missions begin to feel uninspired quite quickly due to simple objectives that amount to the same thing. They’re all just heading to a particular spot, holding X and moving onto the next one.
Filthy Lucre falls into the same trap as many other games with similar sandbox claims. It locks all the weaponry and equipment behind an XP system and this removes any interesting options earlier in the game from the equation. The first few hours are the weakest the game has, when more equipment early on would have at least alleviated the repetition by providing you with choice. Instead, you are presented with distilled gameplay mechanics that are not up to the job.
Once you’ve completed a few missions you will have levelled up enough to unlock a few toys to play with. Between missions you retire to your hideout/main menu, which is for some reason a 3D environment that you walk around rather than an actual menu. Here you can access your armoury, missions, cooperative play, a written tutorial, the options menu, a vault that tells you your progress, and change between different looking characters.
Equipment is considered one of two types: assault or tactical. An unsilenced weapon is assault, whereas anything else, from silenced pistols to flash-bang grenades, are considered tactical. There is a good amount of choice once they are unlocked and they certainly open up some options, but generally they slot into your play-style rather than change it completely. The body-hider, for example, is useful, but mostly due to the limitation that enemies will drop where you kill them and can not be moved afterwards to hide.
The game is fairly serviceable in terms of graphics. Textures are clear enough, explosions and muzzle flares are bright and light up the surrounding area quite well, though finer details – such as railings – seem to have escaped the anti-aliasing. Occasionally an animation, such as a silent take down, will appear to clip through the enemy due to improper placement, as will doors if you open them when an enemy is close enough. These are small issues that don’t affect gameplay, but are representative of the lack of polish that you can see through the game. Whether it’s exploit-worthy security camera behaviour or little glitches in animation, the small issues combined with an XP unlock system add up to bring down a game that did have some promise.
There is fun and satisfaction to be had in stealthily taking out whole levels without being spotted, but that is perhaps due to the nature of stealth gameplay rather than the strengths of the game itself. If you are looking for something along these lines and don’t mind the issues too much, you may enjoy Filthy Lucre, but there are other games that do the same thing with more success for a similar price, making this particular game difficult to recommend.
Version tested: PlayStation 4