Review – Payday 2 (PC)

written by Stephen Hanley on 21.8.13 payday2 screenshot2

Payday 2 is the sequel to the successful Payday: The Heist developed by Overkill and published by 505 Games. Following up on what has to be one of the best ideas of the last generation, Overkill look to improve on Payday: The Heist’s reputation of being a buggy, yet extremely fun game especially in multiplayer.

As frequent visitors of the website will know, I got to play this game when it was in beta back a few weeks ago and was left highly impressed at not only how the game performed on my PC, but how enjoyable it was, even in a single player aspect. I’m glad to say that nothing has changed on that front now that the game has gone live.

Your fellow heisters are reunited for a second time to do what they do best, make money in the most illegal ways possible through a series of missions involving breaking and entering, classic bank robbery, and simple property damage. While these are held across a series of often recycled maps, the use of randomized features and elements help to keep things interesting as the map may not be the same as the last time you successfully completed the heist.

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Missions are picked up by accessing Crime.net, a virtual map that locates and displays all active online missions. There is an offline mode as well, but the allied AI is so terrible at times that it makes it almost impossible to be used in a competent way. Playing online is without a doubt the best way of experiencing what this game has to offer and really make your heists go as successfully as possible. Missions appear and disappear in real-time as they become available and range from simple one day jobs to longer, story based crimes that take place over the course of several days and are broken up into two to seven stages. Mission are also graded by difficulty, with the enemy resistance becoming greater the harder the difficulty of the job.

Each mission is paced rather well with a huge variety between stages. One minute you’ll be asked to enter a mall and do $50,000 worth of damage while another involves robbing three stores at once and making out with the goods. Multipart missions including robbing an art gallery, holding a position from cops and then executing a trade of goods before the police eventually show up. You can even channel your inner Heisenberg and cook up some meth in one mission.

Perhaps one of the best features of Payday 2 is the ability to complete the missions either through stealth or all guns blazing. The former will ultimately lead to a harder time as you go against waves upon waves of timed police ambushes, which can be slowed down by taking and holding hostages. Alternatively you can try to stealth it, and while this requires a much more practise to accomplish it can ultimately lead to a greater reward at the end of it all.

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Guns are what you would typically expect from a heist game with pistols, shotguns and assault rifles all being present, but there are a lot of them to choose from, all of which can then be customized with parts that are randomly won at the end of a job. Masks are also more important than previous the previous Payday as the usual clown varieties are added to with mummies, demons and other demonic looking masks. Masks are also acquired as random drops and can be customized further with different materials, logos and colours. All of this leads to a health player progression system that is sure to leave players entertained for a long time.

Players level up through experience which is gathered at the end of each successful job, which in turn can be used to gain new skills, buy guns and customize masks. There are four skill trees to choose from – Mastermind, which involves dominating enemies while supporting allies; Engineer, which uses vault drills more efficiently and can use mines or turrets; Enforcer, which is all about combat and shotgun efficiency; and Ghost, the handy stealth class that can sneak in and evade detection.  The class you go for will ultimately dictate how well you will do on missions, especially if you’re trying to solo a mission so think before you throw your points into its tree. You can respec your skill points but you will only receive half the money you spent back.

Unfortunately at the time of launch, matchmaking could be more efficient as there were some problems with joining games along with no sort of host migration implemented which is a shame. There were also numerous glitches and bugs within the game, some more hilarious than others such as getting stuck within a wall. Overkill has acknowledged many of these flaws and have been pumping out updates across all platforms to address these issues.

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For its few faults, Payday 2 is a highly enjoyable game which is made even more worthwhile with a friend or three. There is a reason that at the time of writing this review Payday 2 is number one in the UK game chart and it isn’t due to a an overly expensive advertising campaign filled with pre-rendered CG and a Dubstep soundtrack, it’s number one on its own merits of being an extremely fun game that is worth spending your money on. If you’re looking for a multiplayer game to play with your friends or gaming community, you’d be mad to not pick up Payday 2 as not only is it only £30 compared to other AAA titles, but Overkill deserve your money.

4 stars
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