'Payday 2' review (Xbox 360): Co-operative heist game can be a blast
Holding up a bank.
Release Date: August 13
Platforms available on: Xbox 360, PS3, PC
Developer: Overkill Software
Genre: Co-operative first-person shooter
Payday 2 continues on the same page as the original, as you and three other criminals must work together to pull off lucrative bank robberies.
This time, the heists have become more varied and larger in scope, thanks to multi-stage missions that see you establish then ultimately execute upon elaborate heists.
These go from securing and delivering bags of cocaine after a pick up goes wrong, to stealing artwork to plant inside a senator's home to his expose illegal activities - for your own gain, of course.
© 505 Games
A shootout against police - a common occurence in Payday 2.
Alongside the more straightforward smash-and-grab runs of jewellery stores and malls, there is a strong variety in mission locations and set-ups.
Despite this variation, the vast majority of missions stick to a very similar pattern. You enter the location, attempt to secure some hostages (used to negotiate for extra lives), plant drills to break into doors or vaults then carry the loot to the extraction point.
While you're doing this, a frightful number of police enemies try to stop you. It's rare to undergo meticulous planning and strategy in Payday 2 ; the huge majority of the time you're clearing waves of enemies until drills finish, opening up the route ahead and repeating that until the job is complete.
There's an awful lot of shooting, and as such, more variety in objective and enemy types would have been ideal.
- The typical frustration of stealth games - where being spotted devolves into a firefight - unfortunately remains fully intact here, and there's no way back to staying hidden once you're spotted.
While it adopts random enemy patterns akin to other co-operative shooters, unlike Left 4 Dead 's varied adversaries, the strategy to defeat boss-type enemies rarely goes beyond pointing and shooting.
Thankfully, the core loop of suppressing enemies while you locate, secure and extract loot is very enjoyable.
Shooting feels sharp and tactile, and while drilling into vaults and doors is often a lengthy and tedious process, attack waves are timed regularly and escalate enough to keep you on your toes, often accompanied by an exhilarating, pumping electronic soundtrack that kicks in at just the right time.
© 505 Games
Players can wear and customise masks.
While some missions offer stealth openings, which allow you to avoid lengthy firefights by sneaking to objectives, they prove very difficult to complete thanks to some unpredictable civilian and guard intelligence.
The typical frustration of stealth games - where being spotted devolves into a firefight - unfortunately remains fully intact here, and there's no way back to staying hidden once you're spotted.
Structurally, there's no
strict campaign. Instead, you pick and choose your missions from a stylish map of Washington sees sessions blink in and out of existence.
It's a visually interesting representation of lobbies, but you soon wish you could locate or filter specific job types without waiting for them to appear, or worry about them vanishing again.
© 505 Games
Securing loot on to a boat.
Despite the variety of missions available, expect to repeat some job types to earn enough experience to climb the ranks and access more complex jobs.
Thankfully, there is some effective randomisation that means even replaying the same mission types offer new surprises.
The locations of guards, civilians and key items all change, as well as key geometry, like the location of vaults, doors hiding valuable goods, and getaway vehicles, keeping you on your toes.
As well as more mission types, gaining higher ranks also unlocks skill points for abilities and character progression.
© 505 Games
Keeping an enemy down.
A real drawback with Payday 2 is the way the ability trees are handled. Four roles are available, including one that provides more firepower through to stealth, but you can invest in multiple at once to build a rounded character.
The problem is that aside from key items, such as medical or ammo bags, most of the unique abilities are at the top of the tree, requiring hours and hours of investment to create a specialised role.
Up until then you're just skimming the bottom of each role, getting slight gains in the speed you collect loot bags or heal teammates, and not accessing helpful shortcuts that make heists faster or a little more tolerable.
- If you can bear some of its faults, you don't mind an awful lot of shooting and can get three friends together, then Payday 2 is a blast.
That said, teamwork is still essential; players need to make sure that they have an ammo and health bag between them, and communication is key during a police assault to ensure all angles are covered.
On the harder difficulties - where there are more rewards available - there's also a real sense of relief even when you come out of a botched operation with everyone intact.
Playing with others in Payday 2 is a must. You can play alongside computer intelligence, but it's not recommended since it's useless at holding back heavy assaults and won't bother going after objectives.
If you can bear some of its faults, you don't mind an awful lot of shooting and can get three friends together, then Payday 2 is a blast.
Category: Payday loans