The Heist Game Review

How are your Getaway Skills?

The Heist Game

The Heist was first released to flash game websites way back in 2008 – a hair-greying eight years ago now. How does it stand up to modern games and conventions? Is it still a worthwhile getaway experience?

To Heist or Not to Heist

Let’s get this out of the way to start with. The Heist is a bit of a misleading name. When you take control of your van, the heist has already happened – you’re simply driving the getaway vehicle.

You’re given a top-down, 2D point of view which doesn’t look dissimilar from the original Grand Theft Auto, however the game is much simpler. You’ll be racing down busy, four-lane highways (you can cross onto oncoming traffic if you’re feeling brave – or stupid) while attempting to avoid and destroy pursuing police cars.

At the start of each ‘mission’, you’re given a bunch of money – the money that you’ve stolen – and you need to make it to the end of the level, before the time runs out, with as much of that money remaining as possible.

Money is taken away from you basically every time something touches your car. In the first couple of levels, this means you’ll need to avoid unnecessarily ramming civilian cars and be wary of persistent police cards that keep giving you the odd nudge.

Some of your cash can be recouped by destroying police cars, but if you don’t have any weapons equipped you’ll likely find yourself losing a ton of money in order to make a tiny bit back – in other words it’s not worth it.

Simplicity Above all Else

The Heist Game: Game Play

Nothing about The Heist can be described as complex. The levels are all depressingly similar to one another – sometimes the colour of the surface next to the road will change – and there’s little gameplay difference as you move from one mission to the next.

That’s not to say that everything is identical, though. As you move through the levels (more on that shortly), police cars will become more numerous, they’ll grow in size, start firing guns at you and even change into full-on SWAT vans.

Sadly, that’s not enough to stop the missions from feeling far too similar to one another. The Heist doesn’t have much to spice up proceedings and if you’re not entertained by the first level then it’s unlikely that you’ll be anything but bored to tears by the fifth one.

Speaking of levels – some of the levels are barred until you’ve hired a crew member with a certain description – whether it’s a planner or a hacker or a stealth expert. The specialists in The Heist are nothing more than a façade covering a barrier to progress. They do nothing other than cost resources and unlock another near identical stretch of road.

What’s worse is that the cost of these specialists, which uses a separate currency for vehicle upgrades, means that you’ll be playing some of the missions two or three times in order to unlock the next one. So in a game where almost every mission is the same, you even have to repeat the same one a couple of times in order to unlock one that merely gives you slightly more cash and has a higher number.

I would have liked to see the specialists have a secondary effect to how the game turns out. For instance, hiring a hacker specialist could give you a one-off ability that immediately shuts down all cars around you. A planning specialist could temporarily clear the traffic ahead of you. Anything like this would have made The Heist a more engaging experience.

The Saving Grace…

Thankfully, you can do something that’s semi-worthwhile with the cash – purchase weapons for your van. The available weapons range from oil slicks to ramming devices to mines, and they save the game from being a complete bore.

There’s a world of difference between playing the same levels with no weapons, as you start off with, or the too-tame oil slicks, and the destructive mines.

…Until

Sadly, this period of relief doesn’t last long. You’ll soon come up against police cars that shoot at you while they’re trying to run you off the road. The bullets drain your cash like a punctured tyre loses air. If you have two or three police cars around you, your balance will go from twenty thousand to nothing within 5 seconds – unless you can somehow get rid of them all at once. Flukes aside, this won’t happen reliably and you’ll end up with a poor score at the end of the level.

When that happens, the only thing you can really do is, once again, repeat the same level – and hope that this time, the police cars don’t spawn in quite the same way.

Wrapping Up

The Heist, then is a game that shows its age. It’s too simple, too repetitive and what little fun it does offer is quickly eliminated by a rather harsh and unavoidable drain on your cash. Sadly, The Heist is a bust.

Play The Heist

Review written by Ian Wakefield from integritas.link.

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