Games have always been very cliché in the sense that every single game portrays you as the hero and you have to save some damsel stuck somewhere, or better even save the fate of the world from a big baddie. It comes as a much needed break then that the Payday series exists, and its last iteration, which came onto the new-gen consoles, proves itself to be a solid entry in the franchise.
As a little plotline for anyone not familiar with Payday games, these games revolve around you being the bad guy, or guys because the game shines when played co-operatively. This is because in Payday your job is a robber, and acting accordingly, you must steal whatever the mission tells you to do. In order to carry out the mission successfully, co-operation really is key. Let us first go over the basics and then talk about game depth further on.
In Payday, you take the role of robbers, who will follow the mission briefing and break through the location of the heist and take with you the objective of such robbery. Such objectives may be emptying a bank vault, stealing a weapons shipment from huge trailers or also making a series of small robberies in adjacent shops. Your best friend in Payday is not the AI helping through your earpiece, and neither your teammates, no matter how close you are in real life. This is because the drill takes the coveted spot. The drill is an absolute necessity in the game, and thankfully there is no need to unlock it since it is always with you from level one. It will help you take down the most resistant of structures, like bank vaults or trailers. Slowly though. It takes upwards of three minutes for the drill to finish its gnawing of steel, and thus this is where the game enters the castle defence phase, where you must hold back the police’s assault until the structure is broken into and emptied.
A mission in Payday 2 thus divides itself into three main phases, being entry, empty and escape. The entry is relatively short, since it features how the players will go in, namely locating the vault or key components of the level and discussing tactics on the fly. In some levels, it is also possible to tackle the mission in stealth, which means avoiding all types of cameras or alarms. This will mean that the mission will proceed much more calmly than when the police are raging at you from all sides. Parts of progressing through a mission in stealth feature disabling cameras and capturing hostages and tying them down or ordering them around so as to minimize suspicion of hostile activity. The drill will still take its time so it gets very nerve wracking to remain in stealth. There are also extra rewards at the end of the mission if it was carried out in stealth, so the bonuses for being undetected are quite sizeable. Completing a mission in such a manner will be tedious though, not only because of the AI which has the eyesight of a hawk, but also because of some son of a gun who randomly joins in to your game and goes guns blazing just when the drill is finished. Trust me, it happens.
The best feature of Payday though, as mentioned briefly before, is the need rather than chance of co-operation. The chances of completing an entire mission all by yourself are very slim, and it is not due to the AI being overpowered or anything unbalanced from the game. In fact, AI cops are very easily taken down, unless it’s a damn shielded one, which will yet again require teamwork to take down. This is where Payday shines, since each player will inevitably need his teammates to progress in the mission. Arguably, the need for four decent players is not that big because a party of two players and two AIs can do a good job. Still, it is much easier carrying four bags at a time than two bags while fending off enemies. The loadout phase of the game is also very important since here parties decide what to bring with them. Sharing is caring, and in Payday this is doubly true. I made it my policy to have people in my party carrying different equipment into the game, such as medkits, tripmines and ammo recharges, to have a well-balanced set of equipment. Weapons are not that important to sync, especially when there is no proper sniping map, so options for guns are not dependent on others’ selections. One must also note that even though the missions are not very different from each other, the progress on a mission is far better if any member in your team has done that mission before, as he can then serve as the leader and guide the remaining members through the mission instead of checking wherever you must go next.
As for replayability, the game offers quite a lot of incentives. First of all, upon reaching level 100, Infamy unlocks, which although it resets pretty much the majority of the game, it provides for an additional challenge, and for people who fall in love with the game it may serve as a sort of new game +. Infamy also grants other bonuses such as new masks or missions, which may make the grind to get there worthwhile. Luckily, gaining experience points is not that difficult since there are a couple of lengthy missions which give boatloads of XP if done right.
Admittedly, the game does have minor shortcomings which I hope have been solved, such as random crashes or the game not connecting to friends. It can also have been caused from my end, but seeing that no other game crashed four times in ten minutes straight, I have my doubts. This problem has not featured itself in my latest playing sessions so I think that this has been fixed.
Payday has finally made the jump to new generation consoles, and it was quite a jump indeed. The graphics are much sharper, the gunfire is amazingly done and the music pumps adrenaline into your veins, making missions that much more absorbing. The awesomeness you feel when putting on the mask and initiating a heist is one of the greatest moments of the game, and when coupled with great teamwork, successful heists and a great end result, it almost feels like Payday in real life!
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.