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Payday 2

 

Payday 2

ESRB: Mature - M
Platform: Xbox 360
Category: First Person Shooter, Party Game
 
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Nothing is sweeter, I feel, than a heist without hitch. Except a heist where I get to murder over 60 police officers, who are probably all two days from retirement. But don't get scared, because I'm not talking about real life, but Overkill's latest incarnation of the Payday franchise. And it's amazing.

GRAPHICS

Every weapon shows its modifications, it's clear what enemies are what, and the HUD is so unobtrusive that I often forget it's there. If these were the only good design decisions on the visuals, it would still be good, but the little touches make it excellent. For example, on your first run through of a heist, you can quite clearly see the various ways you can rob the target blind, such as buzzsaws, C4, or the drill (which is actually less annoying this time around). My only real bitch with the UI is in the Crime.Net interface, where jobs will appear outside of the clickable area, for no good reason I can see. But that doesn't detract from how pretty, and, more importantly, clear it is.

SOUND

The music definitely sets the mood, going from the tense, Tom Clancy-esque title theme, to the pulse pounding techno when it all goes to hell. More importantly, it doesn't overwhelm the game sounds, which also excellently give you an idea of what's going on. The sting of being detected. The clink of loot collection. And, good lord, the satisfying thunks, clangs, and bangs involved in shooting the many, many police officers who will inevitably get in your way at some point. I can't adequately describe all the noises the game offers, but you're not going to be confused about them for long.

GAMEPLAY

If you want to play Payday 2 offline with AI, you can, but to get the full, amazing experience, play with friends. Pubbies will do in a pinch, but mates are definitely better, and headsets are a damn good idea. On the PC version, gamepads aren't really supported, but to be honest, mouse and keyboard is the Way and the Light. Yes, with capitals.

The actual structure of a heist is pretty simple, but let me make it clear by explaining two: Your standard bank job, and Watchdogs, one of the new mission types. One of the many new mission types. A Bank Heist, if you've played Payday 1, is pretty much a minor variation on an old riff until you get to higher levels. You stroll around, pop cameras where you can, try to stealth as much as possible before the inevitable alarms, drill into the vault, and run like hell with the money. But of course, things can go wrong. In one of the first Bank Heists since the beta, we were too busy dealing with security guards to notice the tiny camera right above the door we entered by. In another, related heist, we didn't control the passersby outside, and they rather unsuprisingly called the police on us. But, to be honest, it isn't a fun bank heist without a shootout, although it can be stealthed, in the sense that nobody's reaching for their smartphones.

At higher levels, however, you have more options. Hell, even at the beginning, you have more options than the original game. You can pick locks, set C4 fairly early, answer guards' pagers (very important), and set EMP transmitters that disable cameras. And, to be fair, levelling comes very quickly. The group I played with are level 20 or somewhere around there after just 3 hours, although things apparently slow down after level 30.

In any case, once things go wrong, Payday 1 players will find this familiar territory: Cops come, you shoot them, and not let them shoot you too much. You try to keep them away from hostages, and when the time comes, you run like hell to the escape vehicle. Oh, did I forget to mention there are escape vehicles, and sometimes you have to protect them? This would be a good time to talk about the other mission I mentioned: Watchdogs.

Watchdogs is a multi-day mission, which means you do multiple jobs before the payoff. In the case of Watchdogs, the first day is an ambush scenario, where you have to protect bags of cocaine until a van appears, drop the coke in the vans, then hold out until the escape vehicle arrives. Thing is, like every heist in this game, you can escape once you've met minimum requirements, or you can be ballsy, and try to get out with as much as possible. If you go this route, prepare for lots of extra work. In fact, if you cock up the basics, prepare for lots of extra work. Or inarceration, which is just a mission lost, really.

The second half of the mission changes depending on whether you got all the coke or not. If you did well, it's all in one place, ready to be carted to a safer place. Why a safer place? Because cops are massive douches, and will steal your loot bags from you if you let them. In fact, this is the whole point of the second half: Hold out with the bags until they can be thrown into a motorboat, then hold out some more (because it can only take 4 bags at a time), then rinse and repeat until you either get the minimum and decide to escape early, or, again, be ballsy. Fortune favours the well prepared, although expect to run around the second half like a hyperactive toddler. We certainly did, and the bodycount was... impressive.

Class-wise, there's something for everyone: Technicians use C4, can place sentry guns, and excel with long-range weaponry. The Enforcer excels at close-range murder, bag toting, and yelling “HARRRRRRVVEEEEYYYYY” while taking obscene amounts of damage. The Ghost is a stealth master, takes loads of loot, and moves like greased lighting. Finally, there's the Mastermind, who excels at crowd control (important skill), healing, and buffing his partners in crime. Add to this the fact you can mix and match (be aware though, that the level cap is 145, same as the last game) and you're pretty much good to go. Weapons, equipment, and masks (Payday's equivalent of hats from TF2) are, however, a slightly stranger beast.

The weapons themselves unlock at certain levels, and cost a fixed amount to buy, but modifications to them are randomly dropped at the end of missions. The same is true of masks beyond the default, patterns for the masks, and random money drops. But the core equipment is strictly based on what skills you have. So you can't have a buzzsaw till you're at least level 40. There are also assets to buy for missions. Before a mission to destroy a mall, we bribed a disgruntled employee to leave gas cans for us, to help blow up the mall more efficiently. It worked like a charm, and it's by no means the only kind of asset you can get.

Overall, Payday 2 introduces so many new features that I genuinely can't talk about them in a single review. For the price they're asking, it has stupid replay value, and I would highly recommend this if you like team-based shooters. If you don't like teamwork so much, well, this will probably be hit or miss for you. And if you happen to need an utter psychopath to clear your way to victory, you could do worse than giving me a try. I'm wanted in 15 states as far as this game is concerned.





 
 

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