The Masterplan Review

The Masterplan is a top-down tactical squad heist game that has you preparing for heists at a hideout, and pulling off heists at many different locations.

Before attempting a heist, you will be able to organize and customize your crew. At first you start out with two crew members and a pistol for each, but later on you can hire more goons and have all sorts of guns to take with them. Additional goons can be hired with cash at the hideout’s phone, which contains 3 randomly generated goons that refreshes each time you complete a heist. Each goon can start with a random gun, sometimes have skills, and have better stats like health and accuracy. Guns and ammo can also be ordered, but fliers for each gun type must first be found during a heist before they are available for sale. When beginning a heist, you can bring along any combination of equipment and goons, even going alone with an empty inventory.

Heists can take place at many different locations, ranging from small stores to a large bank, mansion, and even Fort Knox. Each heist will start you outside of the location next to your van, which is where you can drop off loot and make your escape. There is one main goal for each heist, such as a locked safe in the back of a building, but there will be smaller caches of goods to acquire and you can leave at any time with what you have already acquired. Every heist has safe areas that you can freely walk around where no one will suspect a thing, but entering a staff only or other restricted areas will cause people to become suspicious. Civilians will be the most common people to watch out for, as they will call the police if they notice something odd going on. Guards are the same way, but they mainly patrol the restricted areas and will attack you with clubs or guns if they are completely aware of you, as well as calling the police if a phone is near. Cameras will also be present at most areas, and their view will alert whoever is watching the screen they are connected to. If the police do manage to be called, they will arrive in 30 seconds which does allow you to make a quick escape. All people can be held up if any of your goons are pointing a gun at them, which lets you command them yourself or simply knockout/shoot them. The lights in buildings and camera system can all be disabled if you can find their power sources, which can greatly make the heist much easier.

While you’re roaming around an area, there will be a variety of items that can be found. Cash will be the most common, which can be found in people’s pockets, small containers, sitting on the floor, and even a bank vault. Most heists will also have a color coded door system, which means you have to go around and find the keys that pertain to them all. New levels and heists are unlocked by finding documents scattered through levels. Guns, ammo, and even the fliers to make them available for purchase back at the hideout can all be found.

Except for the first few levels, where you don’t have the best equipment and knowledge of the game, there didn’t seem to be much if any actual difficulty to the game until you get to the levels towards the end of the game. Other than the gameplay being easy, you don’t have to worry about perfecting heists as you can earn a lot from being fairly sloppy. Each level only takes a few minutes to complete, though some could last a little longer if you wanted to come up with the perfect plan.

Perfecting levels, where you complete a level with all the possible loot and not get caught at all, would be something that hardcore players will look at. However, the game itself in general isn’t very hard at all and there is almost no reason to perfect levels, so it would only be a personal goal to perfect the game.

Simply playing through the levels and unlocking all gun types, while not worrying about perfecting each level, will last you from 3-5 hours. Perfecting levels and going for achievements can add a little extra time to the length of the game.

The game is mechanically complete for the most part, so the only thing left is to add more content. There will possibly be updates after the game is complete. There is no options menu at all in the game. The only things that you can change in the pause menu is whether the music is on or off and if you want the game to be full screen.

The graphics have a top down 2D pixel art look to them. It does run well, but later on the larger levels can make the game extremely slow, especially when the cops show up and there are many characters walking around on the map. Most levels have their own unique music, but there aren’t many sound effects in the game. A very small amount of voice acting is present, characters may say something short when something in the game happens.

Pathfinding of characters could use some work, and the selection box when you drag over your characters doesn’t even appear, but there isn’t anything major wrong with the game.

At first I was liking the game, but in only an hour of playing it, I just got bored. It felt like every level was the same, just a different layout while having the same objectives and obstacles. A few advanced tactics, such as holding people up and ordering them around or messing with the power and camera systems, were only ever somewhat useful early on until you realize they’re pointless to even do. Since each level can be repeated to gather money, there is no reason to do them flawlessly as there are no bonuses for doing so, which means you can just rush through levels without much penalty even if you mess up. The end of the game becomes even easier, as you will acquire disguises and tranquilizer guns, which just allows you to storm through buildings unseen while knocking everyone out for a long time. Until you get to Fort Knox, there just wasn’t any real difficulty to the game unless I put restrictions on myself. Controlling characters can also be a pain, as they tend to stack up and going into their inventories and issuing commands can get quite clunky as well.

Money is the main reward from heists, but it feels useless after acquiring since there isn’t much useful stuff to buy with it. Guns can be bought, but you must find a flier for them first in a level, but by time you find them you would have also just found the guns themselves in levels anyways. Whether you buy or find guns, they’re useless aside from allowing you to stick someone up and have another character knock them out, as killing people will reduce the heist’s reward. Other than guns, money can also be used to hire additional goons to help with heists. More goons are very nice and there is nothing wrong with more, but the game was easy with just the two you start with, and since goons are random, it can be a long time before a skilled one appears to be hired.

The main thing that the game needs is for there to be higher penalties and making the advanced gameplay mechanics actually worth using. As of now, you can just blast through most levels with two characters, maybe get detected, and still make off with thousands of dollars.

The Masterplan costs 20 dollars along with the sound track for 8 dollars, as well as a combo of both for 25. Even with the additions to the game after being full released, there is almost no justification to buying the game at full price. It doesn’t last very long, most gameplay mechanics feel pointless, and I just didn’t find it fun. If you find it interesting though, it would still be a good idea to wait for a sale before buying.

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