Payday 2 Review

Developer: Overkill Software  Publisher: 505 Games  Consoles: PC, PS3, Xbox 360  Release Dates:   PC/PS3: August 13th, 2013  Xbox 360: August 16th, 2013 Genre: First Person Shooter  Player(s): Single, 4 player co-op  Rating: M (Blood, Drug Reference, Violence, Strong Langauge and Suggestive Themes)   

Developer: Overkill Software 

Publisher: 505 Games 

Consoles: PC, PS3, Xbox 360 

Release Dates:  

PC/PS3: August 13th, 2013 

Xbox 360: August 16th, 2013

Genre: First Person Shooter 

Player(s): Single, 4 player co-op 

Rating: M (Blood, Drug Reference, Violence, Strong Langauge and Suggestive Themes) 

 

There's a lot to be said about Payday 2. On one hand, this game is a tremendous time with friends as the heists pulled off requires teamwork, concentration, skills and just a little bit of luck. On the other hand, Payday 2 is a horrible, horrible game to play alone or with randoms that refuse to cooperate. If you have up to three friends that can be trusted to watch that six of yours, Payday 2 is worth every penny invested. Otherwise; it would be a wise decision not to join this life of crime.  Now that we're all clear on the matter, Payday 2 improves upon many areas where its predecessor fell short. The biggest improvement is the addition of up to 30 heists to pull off instead of just the four from the original. Depending on how heists are done, whether they are failed or successful, can change what other missions become available. An example would be if a meth cooking session were to go wrong and a getaway is in order, the escape progress may not go so smoothly and the team would have to fight their way to freedom. If the meth cooking was a success however; then the getaway would happen without a hitch.

 

Making the escape with cops all around 

Making the escape with cops all around 

Much of how Payday 2 advances is still a mystery to me but the mystery adds to the experience. By undertaking missions using the new Crime Net (the game's mission interface), players can find new ways to complete a mission or discover hidden routes, which change how said mission could progress. Some missions are only a one day job, while others could be up to 7 days before the big payday. With heists and robberies that are constantly changing, branching off to other intense missions and keeping players on their toes; no one can complain about the Crime Net's mysterious ways. Before the missions begin, there is a chance to add additional help called assets. These assets can range from inside info, extra doctor and ammo bags, camera feeds and many, many more. The assets cost money to put into play but will be worth it for the harder missions since they give you the upper hand. One other area which was greatly improved from the first is the gameplay. Because this is a first-person shooter, it's important to have mechanics that work properly especially since each mission becomes more intense as time passes on.

Mastermind, Enforcer, Technician and Ghost are the four classes used to separate skill trees and each plays a vital role in pulling off heists without (or with) a hitch. These skills don't have to be separated by the way. If a player decides to create a hybrid from the four classes, that is permitted as well. The mastermind class is used to carry around doctor bags and to be the leader. Enforcer is the brute of the bunch; allowing him to take the brunt of most assaults and deploying ammo bags for everyone. The brains of the operation, the technician, can place C4 on doors, safes and vaults, which cuts down the waiting time to reach the prize. Last but certainly not least, the ghost class focuses on stealth maneuvers such as hand-to hand combat and effective skills to move quietly. No one class is better than the other, so to get the full Payday 2 experience, a team comprised of each class is highly recommended.

If memory serves me right, every one of the missions in Payday 2 can be done without having the cops come bearing down. While I have never silently finished a mission yet, I can definitely see it being possible if done with a full crew and a bit of luck thrown in. I bring up the option of playing silently because when that fails (and it definitely will), the guns need to come out. However, supposing all goes well with the stealth, missions can be beaten without even having to fire your weapons.

For those of you familiar with Valve's Left 4 Dead games, the concept here is similar as well. Once the alarms go off and the cops arrive, the game's AI kicks in and ensures the enemies never act the same. These cops are brutal and can often put you down within a couple of seconds without backup. On top of that, the waves never stop coming but become more chaotic as time moves forward. Stay in the jewelery store too long and you'll find yourself surrounded with no clear escape; meaning you have to fight through the police horde or fall into custody. To make matters even more complicated, civilians must be kept as hostages just in case teammates become arrested. Hostages can be used as bargaining chips but with the cops constantly trying to save them; players have more to worry about than just the mission objective(s). When I say bargaining chips, I mean the hostages can be traded for any poor teammate that happens to get arrested during a heist. Each heist has navigational tips which help players to figure out what to do next. These tips are especially helpful when it's time to escape from the law. When the mission objective(s) are completed, an escape route is pointed out and players are to hustle towards the designated location before something unfortunate happens (arrested). At this point, the mission will end and the details of how everything went appear shortly after.

 Shootout in the jewelry store

 Shootout in the jewelry store

Depending on how the mission ends, failure or success, players will receive their just dues. Completion of a heists yields experience to earn points used in the skill trees and money for buying equipment, new guns, armor, masks and so on. The level cap is at 100, so you can be sure that plenty of time will be invested here if the interest stays intact. Playing with friends certainly helps keep the momentum going; I probably wouldn't play this nearly as much with strangers or by myself.

I find myself thinking of how much change occurred between the two games. It goes without saying that more missions equals more replay value and the addition of class skills adds some depth to  the ordeal. Gun control definitely feels more polished in the long run as well. I found it easier to dispose of enemies when the going got tough thanks to the refined controls. Even the little changes help to make the experience. Like how when you carry a loot bag, the camera shifts to represent the added weight. Movement is even slowed when carrying really heavy bags.

In terms of story, there really isn't much depth here; not a bad thing mind you. No cutscenes, all details told through the mission debriefs, Payday 2 gives you the excuse to go out and cause mayhem in the streets. I do prefer a lack of story with particular games like these but not everyone has my outlook. For the people who enjoy a story along with the experience, Payday 2 might not be for you. While playing though this game multiple times, something rare occurred to me; I couldn't spot anything wrong. Besides the texture visuals on the environments and the occasional gamebreaking glitch, Payday 2 holds a high standard for cooperative titles. At the end of the day, I've always come away from this game feeling satisfied with my actions. Because there's no ending, players can repeatedly play missions over and over to perfection. The replay value here is exponential as I mentioned before and thanks to the incoming DLC planned, there will always be plenty of reasons to return.

Pros:  

  • Fun random heist setups
  • Improved gun combat  
  • Tons and tons of replay value  
  • 4 player co-op goodness

 

Cons: 

  • Sub-par graphics
  • Occasional glitching  
Look at all that paper  

Look at all that paper
 

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Final thoughts concerning Payday 2?  Invest in this superb title if you have the friends to back you up. Otherwise, I would consider saving the $40 for another game or venture. Solo and pairing up with randoms didn't work for me but could work for someone else however. In which I will say; pay and play at your own risk.