The perfect heist. We’ve all dreamed of it, right? The thrills, the spills, the near moral certainty that the person you’re stealing from is an arsehole, so karma’s still good… yeah? Well dream no longer, as Kalypso Media releases its “tactical heist-em-up” Crookz (for those of you not familiar with the genre, Crookz is essentially a puzzle game. A bloody good puzzle game.)
Set in an alternate San Francisco 1970s, after being betrayed by their crew’s boss, five disparate criminals (each with their own specific set of skills and attributes) – later to become six once a robot gets involved!? – set about on a caper of vengeance and grand larceny. The graphics are cartoony (deliberately so), perfect for the game and the larger than life stereotypes that inhabit it. The tutorial is clear and concise, setting up the background to the story whilst teaching you the mechanics of the game quickly. Once you’re through this then it’s into the main game. Initially you start with two characters, the Foxy Brown-inspired Cleopatra (Runner) and the hippy locksmith Bishop – later picking up further characters as you go, but never being able to pick more than four for any one mission.
Each mission starts in the planning phase. This allows you to scope out the level, check cameras, door controls, guard routes and anything else relevant to your success. Once the mission starts you can pause at any time, allowing you to update plans as the situation changes. You’ve got an array of skills and tools at your disposal, but there’s usually a pay-off – the crowbar will get you through the door, but it’ll make a hell of a noise and risks alerting the guards. As you progress you gain experience and new skills (though sometimes these are just improved versions of skills you already have) to help you, which is a good job as the difficulty amps up soon enough. That’s not to say the learning curve isn’t fair, just that later in the game you’ll need all the help you can get.
At 20 missions, this isn’t the longest game, but it’ll take up a fair amount of your time – and once you start on the challenge mode, you can spend as much time as you’ve got. It does suffer from the issue that at least one of the characters becomes superfluous as the game develops, even their skills becoming more-or-less useless. This is annoying but not a massive problem in terms of enjoying the game.
Overall Kalypso have done a fine job with this entry to the heist genre. It’s well thought out, has funky graphics, a cool soundtrack and even an appearance (vocally at least) from ‘70s porn legend Ron Jeremy – but mainly this game is a whole lot of fun to play. Pick up a copy, it’d be a crime not to.