Like every heist movie ever made.
Overkill Software’s co-op heist game PayDay: The Heist was a relative success amongst the gamers that played it. Published by Sony Online Entertainment, the game arrived only on the PS3 and PC, sadly missing the huge multiplayer community of the Xbox360. PayDay: The Heist had four players working together to successfully pull off robberies. The game was short, but popular enough for Overkill Software to start working on a sequel. With new publishers in the form of 505 Games, PayDay 2 promises to bring more of the same heist action, but bigger and better.
Anyone who has watched more than a few heist movies will know that what makes them interesting is the things that go wrong and the ways in which the criminals have to deviate from their masterfully worked out plan to compensate. PayDay 2 is pretty much the same, with the planned heists very rarely working how the players would expect.
Welcome to the new Crime Net, the new online interface where players will be offered jobs of varying difficulties with increasing pay offs. The game is set within Washington DC and after a short tutorial of sorts, the player will find themselves in the safe house and ready to take on all manner of crimes available on Crime Net, the social network for the criminal underground. The different jobs available have star ratings which indicate how difficult they will be and, given that nothing ever goes to plan, the stars should be heeded.
PayDay 2 is a shooter at heart, and the shooting mechanics have been improved over the first game, which is very fortunate as most jobs will end up in a shoot out. It is not through lack of planning or avoiding stealth tactics, it is just that the game is really difficult to play without shooting people. Didn’t spot the guard in the corner of the store? Shoot him. Screaming member of the public gonna give the game away? Shoot her. Failed to notice one of the multiple alarm systems? in come the police, shoot them. Safe drill taking too long and constantly overheating while SWAT start setting up in the street? Shoot them all. The planning of a job may have good intentions, but nine times out of ten it will result in a shoot out and mad dash to the getaway van. Things go wrong, and it is this that makes it interesting.
The game is also very much a co-op game, for four players who know and trust each other to team up and attempt to pull off the perfect heist. We already know that this will probably not happen, but it will go much easier with players you know. Much like heist movies, introducing an unknown player into a team in PayDay 2 brings in an unknown element which has every possibility of going wrong. But even worse is playing with the AI. Your computer controlled team are at best barely competent, and at worse undercover cops who give the game away almost from the very start. This does make the game slightly tricky for gamers who don’t have a strong network of game playing friends, much like a real bank robbery I would guess…
Overkill promised bigger and better for this sequel, and they were not lying. Compared to the first game, the number of jobs that become available is huge, and there will undoubtedly be more coming in the future through DLC. The game is also much deeper now with the inclusion of RPG elements. Players level up and receive skill points which they can then spend on various skill trees, allowing them to adjust their character to suit their gameplay style.
There are four different specialisations that the player can concentrate on. The Mastermind is your smooth talking leader, while the Enforcer brings the muscle. The Technician is a master of gadgets and the Ghost can deal with all manner of security systems in an attempt to prevent the inevitable shoot out. Each of these paths offers skills and abilities that will be beneficial to any heist team, and the player can customise as they see fit.
Of course, the other way that a player can customise their character is through their gear. From the multiple weapons and their attachments, to the iconic masks which can be decorated to the players liking, there is plenty for the loot to be spent on. This actually brings its own problems, as much of the gear that can be purchased is incredibly costly, once the player has unlocked them to start with. For a truly unique look and feel, the player will find themselves having to put in a huge number of hours.
So, bigger and better certainly applies to PayDay 2. Whereas the original PayDay game was only available as a downloadable title, PayDay 2 is available both digitally and in retail stores, and the price has remained low enough to be attractive to all gamers. In fact, it’s a bit of a steal…
For the low price, PayDay 2 is a lengthy game filled with interesting heists or robberies, with plenty of reason to keep going back. The only thing really holding the game back is the unimpressive AI when playing alone. But if you have three friends who fancy themselves as master criminals, or not, then PayDay 2 will get the adrenaline running.