There it is again. That word. It strikes fear into the hearts of some, and brings joy to the souls of many. Truth be told, I don’t really see Filthy Animals: Heist Simulator as a sim game at all. In fact, it couldn’t be much further removed from reality if it tried.
You find yourself in the employment of Tony, the Filthy Animal Bossman Criminal Mastermind (I can only assume he picked his own name). Alongside a ragtag crew of animal misfits, your gang will attempt various heists which escalate in terms of scale as well as the potential rewards on offer. For reasons largely unclear, you will start out nicking cold hard cash, before moving on to more hardcore materials, such as that of the nuclear variety.
There are four mutant creatures to play as (despite looking pretty normal), and with each successful heist comes XP to level them up to a modest cap of six. Doing so will unlock new perks such as increased ammo drops, however half of these are just new skins for your character.
There are various objectives to crack on with during each heist, however you only need to tick three off the list before exiting the level to be successful. These are all pretty straightforward, including such things as collecting various amounts of loot, tracking down all of the letters in FILTHY, smashing a set amount of items etc etc. Each level also has hidden collectibles for you to track down if you should wish to.
As well as numerous items you can smash and throw around, there are also a variety of weapons to make use of. Rocket launchers and semi automatic rifles are fun to use, but your best asset is your special ability. This is charged by eating tacos and the like dotted around each level, making you super powerful for a brief spell.
Not only this, but vending machines provide a variety of beverages that can turn the tables mid heist. Whether that’s a shield, a speed boost or something else entirely, smashing them open is often worthwhile.
There are also mystery chests dotted about each level which often provide much needed items. There’s a loot-o-matic system that allows you to spend your hard earned T-bucks on unlocking items to increase their drop chance when you are heisting. It’s very basic, but can prove quite useful.
The foundation of so many games is a solid, intuitive control system. Filthy Animals: Heist Simulator makes the somewhat brave choice of adopting loose, unruly physics in a similar fashion to Human Fall Flat. The right thumbstick is used to reach up and lean down, and this is supposedly how you pick items up, press buttons and interact with stuff.
Instead, to play it feels as precise as using two pieces of spaghetti as cutlery to eat your dinner. Accuracy is near impossible. Adding to the mayhem is one thing, but before long the sloppy controls just become utterly infuriating. You’ll spend a lot of time on your back side, or clinging on to unwanted items. That’s only the start of it though.
As you would expect, you’re not left to heist unchallenged. There are plenty of guards out to stop you, which means you will need to engage in some basic combat to fend them off. Without a weapon, you can wildly swing your arms and jump around to try and knock them down, or grab hold of something and attempt to chuck it at them.
The problem here is that your character will automatically grab an item when you reach down, with the potential to hold one in each hand. Using the triggers should throw the item, but it doesn’t always translate. Aiming is also fiddly, and often you’ll end up knocking yourself over seemingly at random.
Trying to choose what to grab hold of in a room full of debris is a nightmare, as bits of the environment will find their way into your hands like iron filings to a magnet. You’ll even grab hold of the guard you’ve just taken out, and desperately flap around attempting to drop them as if you were trying to shake a bogey off your finger.
For example, there’s a segment of play where you need to take some gears with you across a moving platform. Trying to drop them and take control of the lever to move the platform is a trial, as your character automatically clutches on to what is closest. You’ll either grab the wrong thing or accidentally kick the gears out of the way, resulting in the controls feeling inaccurate but too sensitive all at the same time.
When you need to start making use of your jump, the horribly inaccurate controls rear their ugly head once again. There’s a substantial delay to get used to when you hit the jump button, so at first your character will simply walk off the edge without a care in the world. Moving around is challenging enough, so any sort of platforming, no matter how basic, is not welcome.
The only saving grace is when you get hold of a firearm, which makes things easier for a brief time. Despite aiming being painfully inaccurate it usually just takes one shot to dispatch a guard; something you’ll be very grateful for. Auto turrets are more tricky however, as they sit lower to the ground and fire a lot faster. Aiming at these is something of a lottery, as you’ll often fire straight over the top of it and take a laser to the face.
The AI is pretty dumb at times too. On one occasion a guard watched me smash a shop up and didn’t react, and even after I gave him a good slap he didn’t snap into action. Yet at other times I was spotted straight away and showered with bullets with barely enough time to return fire.
Controlling the characters in Filthy Animals: Heist Simulator is woefully inconsistent. It makes a basic moveset feel overly complicated and counter intuitive. You can change to a manual control setup to supposedly increase precision, but it makes things even more clunky and long winded.
For some reason, if you are killed you’ll need to turn into a little ball and get flushed down the toilet to respawn. However, this can only be done three times and beyond that you’ll lose substantial, if not all of your heist progress. At one point I did get stuck in “flushie” form, and had to restart the level anyway.
This leads me to the other substantial issue with Filthy Animals: Heist Simulator – that being the painfully slow pace to it all. The controls don’t help, but as each heist gets longer it isn’t the gameplay which gets more varied or challenging, there’s just more of it. As a result, when you die or lose progress, it isn’t a particularly appealing prospect to replay the last 20-30 mins of the game.
A telltale sign of this is in the achievements. From around the fourth heist they become rare in terms of the amount of players who have unlocked them, signifying the waning of people’s attention. Filthy Animals: Heist Simulator is a pretty basic game, and feels as if it could have easily dropped onto mobile platforms at little to no charge. It could even pass as one of those browser games from the noughties due to not only how it looks, but how it feels to play.
It’s tempting to say that Filthy Animals: Heist Simulator has attitude, but in fact I found it to just be crass. Tony’s interventions mid-heist are irritating to say the least, and his interpretation of well known songs where he changes the lyrics are just awful. They make no sense, aren’t funny, and are quite possibly some of the worst sentences uttered in any game I’ve played. I had to mute the sound at one point because between him and the controls, I wasn’t having the best of times.
It’s perfectly playable solo, but you are encouraged to get some friends involved. Whether that be locally or online, you can heist in groups of up to four players which is usually a surefire way to ratchet up the fun. Of course, this meant I roped in some of my unsuspecting colleagues to help me test things out. It’s a good job I did too, because I had no luck finding a game in the online lobbies.
Unfortunately, with Filthy Animals: Heist Simulator, multiplayer didn’t really make a difference to my experience anyway. All of the issues discussed remained, and the scenario didn’t alter to accommodate the extra players. It doesn’t feel as if bringing your mates along gives you any sort of advantage, or changes the experience in any way whatsoever.
The camera really struggled to track us all at once as we spread around the level, zooming out so much before invisible walls were put up to stop us drifting further. We also lost someone mid-heist, and instead of the remaining players being permitted to carry on, we had to restart the whole level with a man down. Given all of this, you’ll still have to convince three other people to shell out just over £16 for the pleasure of playing.
Fundamentally flawed, Filthy Animals: Heist Simulator will struggle to hold your attention – it is frustrating rather than entertaining, no matter how many of you are playing at once.