As a big fan of the Metal Gear Solid and Hotline Miami franchises, I had huge faith in Filthy Lucre. Based on its teaser trailer back in June, it looked like the top-down shooter from UK developer Fabrik Games encompassed elements from both, with a neat British gangster twist to boot.
And while it does to an extent, unfortunately, Filthy Lucre just isn’t a great game. It’s not bad mind you, but it has a few glaring problems that hold it back from being a perfect stealth/action hybrid title.
In Filthy Lucre, you take on the role of a low-level criminal looking to make it big. Your boss, Ronnie Shanks, has just been done over by his rival, Harry Carter, and obviously, it’s up to you to settle the score. You’ll do so by undertaking a variety of missions across five different locales. Objectives vary, but you’ll normally be stealing something or other, or getting rid of somebody that Ronnie doesn’t particularly like.
How you choose to tackle these objectives really is up to you. Are you all for sneaking about and going undetected? Or would you rather go in guns blazing?
The former approach presents several problems. It’s where Filthy Lucre really struggles to come across as a proper stealth game I’m afraid. You see, enemies, for lack of a better description, are completely dumb. Their cone of vision is unbelievably narrow, and to make matters worse, they seem unable to see further than a few metres in front of them.
They’re also very hard of hearing apparently. I can’t tell you how many times it happened in a mission where somebody spotted me, and I was forced to take them down noisily with a projectile weapon. “Another quiet night tonight,” would say the bloke who was most definitely within earshot, either on another side of a wall, or just outside the game’s general field of vision. Other times, they all come running, one by one…
Nothing to see here. Nothing at all.
To make matters worse, you cannot move a dead body. At least, not until you get a specific gadget at a higher rank that allows you to do so. Even that though, comes with limited uses. You can only imagine how this makes sneaking about in Filthy Lucre infuriating. Almost laughably, you need to take into account where an enemy’s body is going to fall when you’re through with them. If he falls to the left for example, phew, safe – nobody is going to see him there. If he falls ever so slightly to the right however, it’ll be straight into that security camera’s field of vision.
Hell, this madness doesn’t even end there. Sometimes, it was the game’s physics that got the better of me. The power of some of my weapons for example, would send enemies, who at that point, I thought were a safe distance away from drawing attention, straight into someone or some tech’s line of sight. Having a baddie fly back thanks to the power of a shotgun is great for cinematic effect, but not so great when you’re trying not to get your wanted level up.
In this regard, Filthy Lucre does get things right. Depending on your exploits in a level (ie: if you draw attention to yourself or not), your wanted level will go up in a similar fashion to that of Grand Theft Auto. The music steps up in tempo based on how naughty you’ve been, which is a nice touch.
At level 1, things aren’t too bad. Enemies are slightly more aware of the fact that there’s a goon on the loose in their lair. At level 2, things heat up a little. Reinforcements begin to arrive, which makes sneaking about all the more difficult. As a side note, these additional enemies are basically guaranteed to spot that pile of bodies you shot up elsewhere in the level. If only you had moved them to a safer locat… oh, wait you couldn’t do that in the first place.
Anyways, at level 3 and beyond, it’s time to consider abandoning ship. It doesn’t make much sense in terms of narrative, but at any point in a mission, you can leave, and whatever you’ve stolen or accomplished will remain that way. You can always return later to grab something you may have missed.
With that in mind, it is genuinely a viable option to get out. There is nothing more frustrating then being right at the end of a mission, only a few metres away from an escape, only to die at the hand of highly armoured enemies. That’ll place you right at the beginning of a mission, with all loot lost, and no objectives complete.
What’s nice about this admittedly, is that it gives you the opportunity to try another approach. The missions in Filthy Lucre are non-linear (to a degree), which means you can tackle them in multiple ways. If you see that there are just too many enemies to shoot through in a level for example, you can go ahead and equip weapons and gadgets that’ll allow you to sneak about through it easier.
Let’s say you decide to slot an EMP grenade into your load out. It’ll allow you head through that one door you ignored earlier because it was being watched by a security camera, which offers an alternate, possibly easier route to the primary objective. If you find that you’re being outgunned by enemies, a selection of flash bangs (or actual grenades if you’re not bothered with stealth) might do the trick.
Despite all its faults, I must admit, I still somewhat enjoyed FIlthy Lucre. The weird design choices and poor AI do hamper the experience for sure, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t find at least some thrill in looting and shooting my way through all 15 missions.
You’ll certainly find more value in the game if you’re a fan of the stealth genre though I reckon. In that regard, Filthy Lucre may fall short, yet it still manages to provide a solid, albeit flawed sneaking experience. The action side of it works and all, but I don’t think that’s the way the game is truly meant to be played.
Overall – 6.5/10
Last Updated: September 21, 2016