“…a super sweet video game of epic proportions!”
Deep down we all wonder what it would feel like to rob a bank. Ok, so maybe that’s not the best way to start a review… Deep down we all wonder what it would feel like to shout down a group of hostages. That doesn’t work either does it? Well I doubt the crystal meth or mass police murder examples are going to work out well either are they? Damn. Alright then, let’s just get to the point. Payday 2 has finally arrived, and as you can’t tell from the worrying examples listed above, gamers are once again being offered the opportunity to enter a world which they (hopefully) would only ever see in the movies; the world of a career criminal. The game has taken great leaps forward from its predecessor, providing a bigger and better collection of heists in much more depth and detail. There is a lot to be said on this one folks, so we best get going with it!
For those who didn’t understand that disturbing collection of the dreams of would-be criminals it is probably worth explaining just exactly what Payday 2 is. This game puts you in the position of a “professional” criminal who as part of a small team is tasked with carrying out a variety of dangerous yet strangely extravagant heists in order to earn a big, tasty payday on their completion. These heists can involve robbing banks and jewellery shops, damaging property or even making, stealing and trafficking drugs. The game pushes the boundaries of the way that crime is represented in video games, occasionally nudging it just over the borders of what is actually realistic, but always keeping things fun, exciting and intense! If things go right, you can slip in and out of a job completely unnoticed and uninterrupted but the law. If things go wrong, you may have to escape the law before you can receive you nice, hefty payoff for completing a job. The bigger and harder the job is, the better the payday will be at the end. Sounding attractive yet?
The jobs in Payday 2 have come on some way since the first game. There is a greater variety, every job is different thanks to randomisation of the locations, and the tasks you are given can be of a variety of difficulties offering different payouts. Some examples of what you might find yourself doing were mentioned in the opening to this review; things such as stealing from drug dealers, making and moving crystal meth, robbing jewellery shops, robbing a bank, destroying property in a mall, raiding a nightclub or even trying to steal from four shops at once. Every time you perform one of these heists, the situation you are placed in will be different. Cameras may have changed, safes may be in different locations, security might be on a different patrol, people might be in different rooms and items may have moved. This means every heist must be performed differently, and scouting and planning out each task is made a crucial part of succeeding in your efforts. On top of this, your aims in each heist will vary depending on its difficulty. You may need to secure more loot, escape faster or complete a series of tasks over a number of days (in game) in order to receive your pay. If things get messy in there the you may have to complete an escape task before you can have your money too. An awful lot has gone into this game to eliminate any repetitiveness and keep the game interesting long into your time spent playing it.
Some things that you need to do during a heist have changed since the former game, but some of the more confusing and often irritating aspects have persisted. In fairness, some of the latter points make the game what it is, and in many ways are quite entertaining when it comes down to how things play out. For example, your drills are still crap. I apologise if anyone finds the use of that word offensive or unprofessional, but anyone who has played either Payday: The Heist or Payday 2 will probably agree that no other word can really be used to describe the bloody things better; the drills are simply crap. The fact is, no matter how industrial they look of how easy it looks like it should be to drill into whatever it is you need to drill into, the drill will more than likely break down. Often it will break down twice just to see how many swear words you are capable of saying in 30 seconds. Some people might find this aspect of the game funny and think it adds to the intensity and atmosphere. Other people are just going to swear loudly about it. But whoever you are, you should be aware that the drills still don’t work in this game. After that rant, I’m going to have to start a new paragraph to keep discussing the games features now. Sorry about that everyone!
Ok, refocused. So another persisting feature in Payday 2 which has carried over from the first game is a seeming infinite number of military-standard SWAT operatives. That’s right, you will still find that if you trip an alarm in a jewellery shop heist then a king size collection of police officers with more firepower than a smoker in a fireworks factory and more accuracy than a sniper trying to hit a stationary bus will be on your doorstep in seconds. Arguably, without this wild influx of every police officer in the United States arriving just for your party there wouldn’t be as much intensity or indeed challenge behind what you are trying to pull off. At the same time however, this is still undeniably ridiculous. In the strangest of ways though, it works for Payday 2. And maybe in an even stranger way, it seems like a good feature of the game. Sometimes you have to just lay down your arms and admit that nonsensical can work in the gaming world, and this it seems is one of those times. Aside from the crap drills and insane police force, the game does have some nice, realistic elements to it too. You can shoot out cameras to slow down any police trying to locate you. You can tie hostages hands and later use them to trade for team members who have been captured. You can even steal small lumps of cash during the heist to add to your funds at the end. You can do quite a lot of fun, realistic things like this along the way, and they all add up to a pretty epic experience!
Payday 2 is of course predominantly aimed at being played with others. You are a member of a team during these heists, and the best team is a team of players working together. You can play offline with AI comrades to aid you, but nothing beats playing with friends. That might just sound like personal preference, but I assure you that the AI really are not as good at this whole heist business as other human players are. They will shoot at the police for you and they will help you up if you get taken down, but beyond this they aren’t much help. One thing is for sure, they certainly don’t like helping with the heavy lifting! If you want to move six bags of cash, you are on your own in that pursuit. You do seem to be able to order these AI bots to come to you, but beyond this the control system doesn’t offer you much to play with. If you want the full, team playing experience you will want to be playing online. This side of play is nothing less than fantastic. Fast talking, strong language and irritated gamers who think they know better than you are all to be expected, but the play itself is extremely exhilarating and as games to play with your friends go Payday 2 is pretty much unmatched in how much fun you can have doing so.
Customisability has become a key part of Payday 2 as well. Your character can now become more of an asset than simply an avatar, and every player is given the chance to make their appearance, equipment setup and skills base uniquely fitting to them personally. You are basically given the tools to make yourself the badass career criminal of those dreams I mentioned you might have been having earlier. You can customise the material, pattern and colours of your mask. You can buy whatever weapons you want (provided you have unlocked them) and fit them with the attachments that best suit you. You can wear a suit or body armour depending on how you like to play. Once you have made yourself look pretty and given your arsenal some juice, you can also focus your skill set to best suit your style of play too. There are a variety of routes to go down, some giving you technical bonuses, some boosting your support abilities, some giving you improved firepower and others giving you different and more specific advantages still. As with most games, the more you play the more you can do with your character. Mask customisations, weapons and weapon attachments must be unlocked before ether can be purchased, and moving up the skill trees requires you to advance levels and gain experience points. It takes time to perfect your character, but at least you have something to work towards and spend your hard earned money on!
If you haven’t already worked it out, Payday 2 is a pretty awesome game! It is fun, exciting and intense; everything you could want from a game of this style. If you have been looking for a realistic title which will offer you the chance to carry out a truly technical heist then this is for you. At the same time, it does not take itself too seriously and so a perfect combination has been forged. This is the perfect place for people who are new to the franchise to dive into it, and a fantastic place for fans of the first game to continue their adventure. Payday 2 builds on what made the first game great and then throws in a great heaped spoonful of sugar on top of that to make it a super sweet video game of epic proportions! If you want a game to play with your friends, or if you simply want something truly exciting to play, then buy this game!
The Good – Fun, exciting, intense, exhilarating; simply hours of entertainment and perfect for playing with friends! An excellent title to continue a unique franchise which works as a fantastic entry point for new players and a great continuation for fans.
The Bad – Pesky drills and unlimited numbers of heavily armed police may lead to mindless, meaningless chains of aggressive language and hectic bouts of rage.
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.