Payday: The Heist 2
The original Payday: The Heist was one of those rare times where a simple premise merged with fantastic gameplay to become an instant classic. In it, players assumed the role of one of four would-be master criminals, and attempted to pull of heists inspired by popular films such as Point Break and Heat. Selling on Steam and on the PlayStation Network as a small downloadable title, Payday sold an impressive amount of downloads, warranting a sequel. Rather than just repeating the original game but with new heists, Overkill completely overhauled Payday, building a brand new engine for the sequel and creating a ton of new content.
If you loved Payday: The Heist, ‘Payday: The Heist 2’ is the sequel you’ve been waiting for, and if you’re new to robbing banks, there’s no better game to start with.
Overkill Studios (who rose from the metaphoric ashes of Studio GRIN) were acquired by Starbreeze Studios (the 2012 reboot of Syndicate) in 2012, and joined forces to make Payday 2 the best sequel it could possibly be, building an entirely new game engine, hundreds of animations, as well as tidying up the gameplay and expanding on what made Payday 1 the instant classic that it was. With 30 new heists compared to the original Payday’s 6, Payday 2 dwarfs the first game in terms of missions and other content.
For those of you new to Payday 2, allow me to introduce you to the core gameplay. You play as one of the four criminals in a crew who undertake various criminal endeavours in order to make money for both your partners and yourself. Unlike Payday 1, where cash was rewarded for undertaking heists and acted a substitute for experience, Payday 2 has both experience and cash rewards, which are then used to unlock various skills and weapons for later heists. Each heist can be played as many times as the player wants, which generally increase in difficulty (but also rewards) as the player levels up.
What is truly brilliant about Payday 2 is the ability to progress through four different skill trees. Players are able to use experience and cash to unlock different skills which fall under four different criminal types: Mastermind, Technician, Enforcer and Ghost. The Mastermind is a cunning strategist, and is best suited as the host player, due to his abilities to boost experience for other players but also for his ability to buy essential assets for each heist, such as security camera feeds and keycards.
The Technician is a man with the right tool for just about any job, whether it’s silently drilling into a bank vault, or blowing open a locked steel door with C4 explosives.
The Enforcer specialises in combat and crowd control, and is able to both take a beating and dish out one.
The Ghost is a master of stealth, able to jam alarm systems and crack safes silently, as well as get in and out of a sensitive job silently. While players will often unlock skills from one skill tree, they are able to unlock benefits from each skill tree should they choose, allowing for a varied and rewarding experience if the player learns the advantages of each class. You can also respect at any time, allowing you to redistribute spent experience points as you see fit, though the money spent on unlocks is extremely penalised.
The heists themselves are a great deal more varied than Payday 1. Some heists are rather short (or at least, they should be if pulled off correctly), and some take place over multiple days, with the tasks given on multiple days being of different lengths. This is a massive improvement over the first Payday, which had some heists that could go on for a hefty amount of time with no break, and to fail those heists usually meant frustration and the occasional heated discussion between crew members.
Unlike Payday 1, where the heists were largely inspired by Hollywood films such as Heat, Payday 2 has less Hollywood and more varied gameplay, which is a good thing. Instead of a heist like “Heat Street”, which unfolds the same way every time, players are now robbing banks, stores, other criminals and even FBI offices where any number of details can change with each play. I (and my friends) have fallen victim to assumption many times on Payday 2, you cannot predict a mission successfully on Payday 2, and it really is that random and fun. It reminds me of the “movie director A.I” of Left 4 Dead, which throws curveball after curveball at the player. Like Left 4 Dead, Payday 2 keeps players on their toes constantly. I’m level 50, and I don’t think I’ve had any heist play out exactly the same as a previous time I’ve attempted it.
Of course, putting together the ultimate crew means the difference between a heist ending with in the back of a getaway van or in the back of a police car, and to get the most fun out of Payday 2, you need to play online. Sure, the A.I players are capable marksmen, but they cannot carry loot bags, nor can they utilise the various skills and equipment a human player unlocks throughout their career. To aid this, Overkill has created Crime.net, which presents the players with heists of varying difficulties and objectives, and matches them with other players online. Do you play a difficult heist and go for a big score? Or do you play it safe and help out lower level criminals by going for an easy heist? Make no mistakes though, just as you cannot predict a heist’s outcome in Payday 2, you cannot predict a human player’s behaviour either.
For all the fun and brilliant gameplay mechanics, there are a few minor problems with Payday 2. There are glitches present, such as not being able to trade a hostage for a team mate in custody, despite the screen and voices suggesting otherwise. There are also other small glitches, like ammo bags hardly refilling your ammo, and snap-aiming not working all, which means your bullets do no damage until you stop aiming and try again. For all these little niggly annoyances, the game more than makes up for them with the best multiplayer shooting experience since Left 4 Dead.
- More replayability than any other FPS
- Very accessible. Easy to learn yet difficult to master.
- Best multiplayer co-op game this year.
- Some glitches/bugs
- No story (both good and bad).
Score – 7/10