Payday 2, the sequel to the digital only Payday: The Heist, is an interesting proposition. The game casts you as the villain, teaming up with other players to perform increasingly difficult heists and bank robberies. On paper, it’s a tantalising prospect. Our reviewer, Dave Green, pulls on his mask and kicks out the jams…
Payday 2, developed by Overkill and their parent company Starbreeze (on a very interesting run of form after the excellent Brothers: A Tale Of Two Sons) is a perfectly functional game. In fact, it improves over its predecessor in almost every way. The core gameplay works – the gunplay is chunky and precise, the mission levels are well-built and easy to navigate, the enemy AI is challenging (and friendly AI intelligent) and, most importantly, it’s fun. Unfortunately, there just isn’t enough of it and if you’re not playing co-op, the game just isn’t the same. Let us explain…
Payday 2 sees you plan a variety of robberies and heists. These activities can last anywhere from a couple of minutes to ten. Then you’re back to planning. And there’s a lot of it. Because the game is completely geared to online co-op, there’s a lot of waiting around in menus. What makes matters worse is when you finally DO get into the game, the heist could already be close to completion with a matter of seconds left. At one point during our playthrough, we joined 3 heists on the run with less than 1 minute to go before being dumped back into a series of menus. Frustrating for a number of reasons, mainly because when the game sings, it really sings.
The heists are exciting. Joining a team of three other masked villains and taking a city block by storm like a scene from Heat (or the excellent Three Clover mission from GTA IV) is genuinely thrilling. Overkill has a real handle on the FPS mechanics and playing with friends and communicating like a real team elevates the game to another level. Praise must also go to the developers for studying their previous game and improving on what worked and throwing away what didn’t. However, there are problems beyond the menu heavy, stop-start interface.
When compared to other co-op heavy shooters like Left 4 Dead, Payday 2 comes up short. There just isn’t enough variety in the missions. Each one plays largely the same. There are a number of objectives and playmodes but, after a couple of hours of gameplay, you’ll have seen all the game has to offer. The hub area, your base of operations, is a good idea but there isn’t enough to do there. You can upgrade and test out new weapons, and customise your mask, but that’s about it – it’s more or less an empty shell. If you’re planning to play Payday 2 as a solo experience it really isn’t worth a purchase – the game is completely set up with multiplayer in mind and, to be fair, Overkill don’t hide this fact.
Payday 2 then, is a rough diamond. There is fun to be had here – especially with 3 buddies. With a years worth of DLC on the way, and a committed community, there is plenty of longevity. Gamers looking for something to play with their friends will find much to like here, solo gamers might want to stay away.
Payday 2 is available to buy and download on Steam, PS3 and Xbox 360 now.
– Dave Green. He’s on Twitter @davidpgreen83
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