If Hollywood is to be believed, heists are cool, thrilling and not to mention highly lucrative. But unless your last name is Pacino, Kilmer or De Niro, the closest you could get to such an intense experience without inflicting bodily harm is developer Overkill Studios’ four-player co-operative shooter, Payday 2.
Payday 2 is vastly improved over its predecessor, Payday: The Heist, yet it still fundamentally plays out the same. You, along with three of your friends, embark upon a bunch of jobs, while holding out against a constant barrage of enemies. This sounds like it could get repetitive real quick, and after a few hours, it kind of does. However, don’t let that dissuade you, as Overkill has added in a bunch of diverse gameplay elements to make sure monotony does not set in too soon.
When a well coordinated team of players works together, implementing their respective skills in sync, it makes for some extremely rewarding gameplay scenarios.
First up is an RPG-esque skill tree that allows you and your partners to pick varied skills that complement one another. For example, one of you could take a skill from the Ghost tree that will allow you to jam a camera feed (to slip by unnoticed), while the other could spend points in the Enforcer tree, levelling up their combat abilities. The third partner could then pick a skill that allows him to control hostages better so they don’t sound the alarm. Individually, these may not sound too impressive, but when a well coordinated team of players works together implementing their respective skills in sync, it makes for some extremely rewarding gameplay scenarios.
Another alluring aspect of this game is the ability to pull off a job without alerting or killing anyone. As you load into a level, you are given the chance to canvas the entire area, so you can keep an eye out for potential threats like patrolling guards, cameras or over vigilant citizens. Of course, there’s always a chance that things will go to hell in seconds, but then again, the game is at its frantic best when the brown stuff really hits the fan.
Like Left4Dead, the game does switch things up a bit every time you replay a level.
Finally, like Left4Dead, the game does switch things up a bit every time you replay a level. This could result in minor tweaks such as the getaway van being parked at another location or the safe being on another floor. This makes sure you don’t replay levels on auto-pilot. And replay levels you will as even though the game claims to ship with 20 heists, a lot of them are just minor variants of previous ones. Like I mentioned earlier, this isn’t a huge issue (although it could be for some), but there’s no doubt that you will have to grind a lot in Payday 2.
One of the biggest reasons for this is because everything in this game, be it skills, weapons or upgrades, is ludicrously expensive. I’m talking kidney-selling expensive here. Coming in from games like Battlefield or Call of Duty, where you’re awarded upgrades for reaching certain levels, in Payday 2, you can only unlock upgrades through a random pick-a-card process after every round. And even then, you may have to shell out $150,000 over something as minute as a silencer.
Payday 2 could give games like Battlefield 3 a run for their money when it comes to authentic sounding weapons.
I’m not a huge fan of this sort of a system as my upgrades always depended on luck, and even after sinking around 20 hours into the game, I haven’t managed to unlock a usable red dot sight for my assault rifle. Oh, and even if you spend your hard earned money on modifying weapons, once you unmod them, you’ll have to shell out a serious amount of dough all over again to reapply that mod.
But most weapons perform quite well even in a vanilla state and every one of them is extremely satisfying to wield. Payday 2 could also give games like Battlefield 3 a run for their money when it comes to authentic sounding weapons. I can’t tell you how satisfying it is to hear a barrage of Ak47s light up a street as you and your crew make a mad dash for the getaway van amidst being shot from all sides. Add to that, the most adrenaline-pumping ambient music I’ve heard in a game till date, and you have the recipe for some intense shootouts.
Attempt Payday 2 on your own and you will most likely lose every single time.
Unfortunately, all this falls apart if you try to play the game solo. Attempt Payday 2 on your own and you will most likely lose every single time, simply because the AI is perpetually in a catatonic state. They do literally nothing but stand around, and since there is no way to issue commands in this game, you’ll be left doing everything from subduing hostages to opening safes to actually carrying the loot outside. It really is quite excruciating.
Payday 2’s in-game browser, the Crime.net menu, is also a bit painful to use. For starters, it’s a bit on the confusing side and there’s no way to filter games by their names or difficulty level, nor can you line up multiple jobs for a long gaming session. And for some reason, a game that’s built around co-operative play does not ship with a party system. That’s just weird.
There were multiple occasions when me and three of my mates just could not connect to one another’s games.
Connecting to online games is fairly smooth, but there were multiple occasions when me and three of my mates just could not connect to one another’s games. The game uses a P2P (peer-to-peer) system instead of dedicated servers, which means if your internet connection is a bit flaky, you may keep getting dropped from games. Also for some reason, if the host rage quits or suffers from a bad connection himself, you’ll be booted to the main menu, losing all your money and XP earned during a particular level.
Payday 2 suffers from a few issues and while most of them are technical and can be rectified with patches, it can also get quite repetitive. Your love (or hate) for this game will solely depend on how much you’re willing to grind through the same levels using different tactics and skills. If you don’t have a problem with that, and the fact that Payday 2 is primarily built around horde mode scenarios, it can offer some great thrills and intense gaming moments with friends.
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