Get in, get out, and get paid.
The idea for Payday2 is you and three of your friends are trying to perform the perfect heist and the keyword here is “trying”. Overkill has taken a page out of valves left 4 dead franchise by making a co-op shooter, but instead of facing zombies you’re taking on beat cops and S.W.A.T. teams. The plot of the game is a simple one. You are a part of a underground criminal network called “Crime net” that hires you and your crew to do jobs for shady politicians and mob bosses so they can get the upper hand on their conflicts. The over arcing plot isn’t of any importance the only thing you need to worry about is get in, get out, and get paid.
Each map contain random elements such as surveillances cams, civilians, loot placement, guard positions, and even routes through the map will change it isn’t as complex as the “A.I. director” in L4D, but it does the job well enough that I never felt fatigue when playing the same maps a couple of times. With this randomness it keeps you on your toes always expecting something even if it never happens. Within each map there are objectives the must be completed to earn the payday. Some are a little convoluted then others such as the map were you and your crew are in charge of cooking meth which doesn’t really explain on what to do all that clearly to a simple jewelry store smash and grab. One of the cool things overkill has done is if you fail an objective on one of the more complex mission things will play out differently instead of just ending the mission. It really gives you the impression of being a career criminal when things go bad you just have to deal with it.
Before you go out on a mission you have to figure out what criminal you’re going to be. There are four skill trees that you can follow and each tree will determine what kind of skills you bring to the team. If you want to be a medic then go down the “mastermind” tree if you want to be silent and undetected then go down the “ghost” tree or mix match it’s up to you. The way you unlock these skills is by using skill points and the way you get skill points is by gaining experience. Experience as well as spending money is earned at the end of a successful heist. Keep in mind to unlock skills you need to use points as well as cash which I feel is a little much especially when you’re trying to save cash to buy a better weapon so you can take on the higher difficulties. Like I said before you can use your cash to unlock new weapons and gear. Unlocking the option to buy weapons is simply a matter of reaching a certain level threshold then from there you have to buy it with your hard earn blood money. I am all for the option to pick and choose your skill and weapons, but at the same time it just make it more apparent on how weird it is to unlocking mask and attachments, but I’ll get to that later on.
The gameplay is solid even though there are some rough edges. Each mission can be approach in a couple of ways. You can either go in loud which of course it will alert all the civilians and guards of your presence which in turn brings the heat down harder or you can go in quite which will alert no one and make your escape much easier. It’s great that the game offers you different ways to approach your goal, but the problem is one will always happen compare to the other. Unless you have a well tune crew you can forget about the quite approach. Thankfully the gunplay is solid and the opposing force isn’t that bright, but they are bullet sponges. So taken on the police isn’t about out gunning them it’s more of a battle of attrition. You’ll run out of ammo long before you get overrun by them. Another thing the game gets right is the bumping soundtrack no thanks to Simon Viklund the same man that made the fantastic soundtrack to bionic commander: rearmed. When things are quite all you hear is a lone base line, but when things go wrong the music follow suit with an adrenaline rush of electronic beats. It’s awesome.
Payday has a lot going for it, but it’s far from being the ultimate heist game. Like I mention early the enemy A.I. isn’t that great from time to time you will see police just walk in to gun fire and even better they will crouch giving you the pure definition of a sitting target. Another thing to keep in mind is forget about going in solo. Your team A.I. can only do the most basic actions (which is just stand and shoot) and that’s about it. So with these super computers on your side you are pretty much left to do everything on your own which turns out isn’t really all that much fun. Also there are some bugs here and there that do plague the game I’ve seen police float in the air or stack on top of each other it’s also common to see the civilian’s just walk through walls or stand in the line of fire which can be frustrating since you get penalized for killing them. Another problem I have with the game is the random unlock system they implement. At the end of each scenario you and your buddy’s in crime get to choose between three playing cards you don’t know what you’re going to get until everyone on the team picks a card. So unlike picking your own loot it’s all random which is bothersome. You can’t just focus on getting a certain part for your gun or that color scheme you want for your mask. It’s alright at first, but after playing a few hours it gets old quick especially if you unlock a part for a gun that your ways away from unlocking or worse you’ll get a double which is a major let down and something that should not happen. Overkill could have just relied on the same unlocking system they use for the weapons and it would have been fine.
Even with all these complaints I still had a blast and I still am with Payday 2. The thrill of knocking off a bank while under heavy fire is something to be experience. Payday2 builds upon everything the previous one has laid out. Sure some systems could be better and the enemy A.I. as well as the team A.I. needs some work. Payday2 still manages to get me hype to go and pull of the next job. I defiantly recommend payday to all co-op enthusiasts. How knew playing cops and robbers would be so much fun.