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PayDay 2 Review

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The core four-player co-op gameplay is really strong, as are the many systems and mechanics that feed into it. Crime.Net is your principal gameplay mode, where you'll choose missions from an interactive city map and get matched up with some partners in crime. Things like safe, guard, and camera placement are randomized every time you play a mission, keeping you and your buddies on your toes at all times, but in a creative and thematically appropriate idea, you get dropped in to case the joint as civilians first so you can get an idea of what to expect. Though it might sound boorish, it's actually one of the best parts of the experience. I never felt more like an uncatchable thief than when I started calling out guard positions to my teammates while waltzing through a jewelry store undetected.

Part of why it's so challenging, and alluring, is all the different details and elements that play meaningful roles. Downing security guards means you'll have to answer their

radios to avoid alerting others. You'll need to balance your load-outs between mobility, utility, and concealability. Four robust skill trees affect everything from the kinds of gear you're proficient with to your skill at hand-to-hand combat or lock-picking. The amount of depth is impressive when you add it all up, and the result is a surprisingly strategic affair disguised as a fast-paced shooter. But the best part of all is that even once things invariably go wrong and the focus shifts from executing a plan to thinking on your feet, PayDay 2 remains a blast. The ensuing firefights are long and intense, and the varied types of foes that get thrown your way require good resource management and quick thinking to best.

Played as intended with a group of friends, PayDay 2 is much like one of its heists: things can get a little sloppy, but the potential payoff is big. Parts of its presentation are lacking, and the state of its single-player is criminal, but overall, it's a deep, addictive co-op shooter that tickled my inner burglar.

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