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Monaco: What's Yours is Mine is one of the most appealing indie titles of the year to date. Rich visuals and engaging cooperative play turn this top-down action game about a group of oddball thieves into something really special. And when you're playing with a group of friends, planning out your attacks and commiserating over inevitable defeats, Monaco is one of those unique experiences where the social element of gaming soundly trumps going solo. So much so, in fact, that the single-player experience eventually becomes an outright miserable undertaking by contrast, hampered further by increasingly repetitive gameplay.
The color-coded protagonists of Monaco are brought together by the game's explosive opening, but their real driving force is greed – swiping floating gold coins from stages patrolled by armed guards and incredibly aware civilians. While "retro" is probably the best descriptor for Monaco's aesthetic, the game has its own pleasantly unique style and story, although the latter owes a huge debt to films like Ocean's Eleven.
Each of the four starting classes – the Lookout, Cleaner, Pickpocket, and Locksmith – offers distinct abilities. For example, the Cleaner knocks out a security guard, which was spotted by the Lookout, while the Locksmith opens the safe. Completing missions unlocks new characters, like the fantastic Mole, who just hammers his way through a wall and avoids that pesky guard altogether.
The early goings of Monaco will have you and your crew feeling like master thieves, but later missions devolve into slightly dissatisfying trial-and-error. And while the repetitive nature of Monaco is a consequence of the story, it's still somewhat of a letdown to play the same objectives multiple times. Still, the hair-pulling difficulty does have some wonderful side effects – namely, watching your party's schemes reach fruition, or laughing hysterically when a friend is trapped in a corner by guards after setting off a laser-field alarm. Monaco isn't just about the thrill of the heist; it's also about teamwork and the humor of best-laid plans falling apart. Sure, you can play Monaco offline, but the enjoyable challenge of co-op quickly turns into a broken mess without pals, thanks to some seemingly impossible late-game objectives.
The bottom line. Playing Monaco is a lot like going to an amusement park: It's an experience best enjoyed with company. Riding the rollercoaster alone for long is just sad and defeating.
Mac OS X 10.6.3 or later, 2.0GHz processor, 2GB RAM, 512MB GPU
Amazing co-op experiences. Encourages replays for perfection. Cool retro visuals. Easy-to-use level editor.
Offline solo play isn't very fun. Missions grow repetitive. Extreme difficulty spikes.