Grab your flares and comb that afro, we have a job to do! Far out!
Crookz: The Big Heist, Developed by Skilltree Studios and published by Kalypso Media is a tactical strategy game.
Set in the 1970’s, your goal is to plan and pull off a series of heists and get revenge on your former teammate, who betrays you and your team after the tutorial mission.
The game is played from an isometric viewpoint, with a fully controllable camera allowing you to zoom in, out, around and view near enough every section of each map in the game at any point.
Graphically it looks solid, but reminds me of the games released in the early 2000’s, which is perfectly fine, as some of the best games I have ever played did not have big flash fancy graphics.
The Tutorial opens with your team planning to steal “The Luna Stone”, a big sparkly green rock that came from space, and runs through the simple to learn controls and mechanics.
You guide your team through the level, right clicking to issue move orders or interact with switches, doors and security cameras. Slowly (or quickly depending on your play style) work your way to the level objectives and then onwards to the levels exit.
Sounds simple enough, but along the way you will encounter and have to overcome security cameras. Whilst being seen on a camera is not an instant game over, you will build up heat and once the heat level has maxed out, then it is the end of the job. On the other hand being seen by one of the games different types of guards will result in a chase, if the guard catches you then the mission is failed and you will have to restart.
Avoiding the gaze of the guards is simple enough, as all the guards move or scan the area the game projects a cone of sight and if you are caught standing or moving about in it you will alert them. There are a couple of ways to deal with the guards, but there is only one character that can effectively keep them under control (we will get on to the characters soon). Some guards will patrol a predetermined route, which is handily displayed as a red line if you hover the mouse over a guard, so you then must work how to avoid not only their gaze, but also put enough distance between yourself and the patrol pattern to avoid being caught.
There are also light barriers, laser barriers, and electrified floors to contend with.
Each member of your team has a selection of abilities that will assist in each heist, and as the game progresses new abilities will be unlocked.
Cleopatra, the leader, can move quicker, and walk closer to the guards before being detected than any other member of the team, later on she will be given the ability to carry more tools into the levels.
Bishop is the team’s locksmith, he can open most locked doors and strong boxes found in the maps, he will get upgrades that will allow him to open bigger and more secure doors as the game progresses.
Lobkowitz is your engineer, rewiring circuits to deactivate the various security measures and obstacles in between you and your objective is his speciality, and his mind contains a lot of stories from the team’s history… a lot…
Rufus, the team’s muscle, what he lacks in finesse, athleticism and thinking he makes up for in pure strength. Rufus is the only member of the team who can subdue a guard without the use of any tools. He can also break down cracked walls with his bare hands and activate heavy levers.
Rocket is a contortionist, she can get into places the rest of the team can’t, by squeezing through air vents, and is flexible enough to dodge between the laser barriers without setting them off.
Rob-O-Matic is a robot, and is limited by only having enough room for one tool. He can however pass by security cameras thanks to his “cloaking” device (I did not say this game took itself seriously) and can pass over electrified floors which will knock out any other member of the team easily.
At the start of each mission you are given an overview of the heist you are about to pull off, these can take place over some pretty big maps, often spanning multiple levels, with several ways to reach your objectives.
Deciding who to bring with you on the missions will affect how you approach the job at hand. While your crew is skilled, the missions put restrictions on how many people you can take with you, so whilst you could select Rufus, Lobkowitz and Rocket, you may find yourself needing a locksmith, or someone to sneak very, very close to a guard to hit a switch. Luckily you can buy additional tools such as sneaky soles, or a crowbar to make up for the shortfall in your skill selection.
Each heist has bonus objectives, find a certain amount of extra loot which can be seen on the map with a sparkling golden glow around them, grabbing these will add to your score at the end of the level.
You quickly get used to pausing the game to work out your plan of attack for each section. Whilst the game is paused you can issue commands to your crew, setting waypoints to get them to move to the exact spots needed, issuing wait commands to get them to pause along the waypoints until you give them the go ahead to move again, once the gameplay resumes they will follow those orders.
There is nothing as satisfying as seeing your plan being carried out without a problem, but on the other hand watching your plan fall apart because someone moved to a spot ever so slightly into a guard’s line of sight is mildly infuriating, but it gives you the drive needed to tweak, and adjust your hopefully well-oiled plan.
Being set in the 1970’s the soundtrack is full of the most brilliantly stereotypical funk and smooth jazz music, It’s just like you were watching a 70’s Blaxploitation movie, which comes along perfectly in the dialogue as the crew chats amongst itself between missions.
As well as the story there is also a challenge mode which gives you a selection of maps (with more unlocked as you progress through the story) and your goal is to simply complete each map with the highest score, there is a leader board to keep track of the high scores between you and your friends.
Is Crookz: The Big Heist a good game? Yes
Is it a perfect game? No
There are times when the game looks daunting, it is a difficult game to play and at times I found myself getting angry while trying to work out exactly what I should be trying to do, and after failing a level for the seventeenth time in a row, I had to walk away, though there is a handy autosave that saves your progress every 30 seconds… so your mistakes are not too costly, just a mild annoyance
With a relatively steep learning curve, and after the third mission the curve turned into a sheer cliff face, Crookz: The Big Heist is a challenging but fun tactical strategy game, similar to the old Commando series.
It may not be for everyone as the difficulty may put some people off, but if you wanted to try before buying, Steam does have a 4 level demo available to download.
Fun to Play
Can be difficult
Graphically a little bland