Game Review: Payday 2

Payday 2, the multiplayer heist game from the guys at Overkill, is a definite step up from its predecessor. But is it actually fun to be the bad guy, or will the game ultimately steal your heart?The sequel to moderately-popular bank heist game Payday: The Heist immerses the player in the game from the moment it has loaded. You either have limited time to get to a certain point on the map, or you spawn in front of enemies and it’s all guns blazing. If you’re not actively concentrating on your surrounds, communicating with your teammates or organising your plan of attack, you will fail. This forces a connection between the player and the game world that’s quite unlike most popular multiplayer games. Being thrust into the action establishes the connection easily and the way Overkill maintains that connection is what impresses me the most.If you’ve played The Heist, you’d know that the guys from Overkill have taken the horde archetype and created something unique. The Heist forced players to work as a team to complete an objective, something that was seriously lacking in games of similar genre. This quickly became stale as there wasn’t a particular point of difference. Same waves of enemies, same maps, same places to steal the cash. The Heist was plagued by repetitiveness and a lack of replay-ability. This format has been reworked for the sequel, treating gamers with different mission types including ‘theft of knowledge’, ‘movement of narcotics’, ‘fixing situations’ and even the ability to ‘Break Bad’. You’re able to cosmetically customise the character, upgrade your weapons and perks, choose a class, and purchase various equipment that can be used in different situations. Overall, it’s an experience that totally contrasts the first game.The reason why Payday 2 is so awesome to play over and over again is because the maps are constantly changing. Every time you boot up a new game, your objectives have moved, enemies are patrolling different areas, cash bonuses change position and if you’re lucky enough, random upgrade or mask drops are scattered around the area. Alongside your mostly random online teammates and your constantly changing weapon and skill layout, almost every game you play is a completely different experience from the last.But different is not always better. Playing Payday 2 without previous experience of the series is a journey within itself. Unlike a lot of first person shooters of this generation, the initial learning curve is quite steep. You can play the game two ways, both of which have their ups and downs. You can throw on your mask and destroy non-player characters (NPC) on sight, stealing whatever you need, or you can show restraint and approach the mission with stealth, avoiding a bloodbath. Leaving your mask off, scoping the place with the rest of your team, devising a plan of attack and then executing the plan can be more gratifying than holding off an oncoming horde of police officers or gang members for minutes while your drill opens the safe.Things don’t always go to plan though. Be it experienced teammates accidently alerting the cops or a glitchy NPC somehow getting out of their restraints, things can go wrong. There is nothing more frustrating than meticulously planning every facet of a mission just to have some uncontrollable variable ruining an entire run. This doesn’t happen often, but when it does, you lose that great immersive connection.The game really adopts the muted and gritty colour scheme of this generation of shooters. Blues, browns and greys combined with detailed character models and a rocking soundtrack, make Payday 2 a beautifully presented game. One downfall, however, is that some NPCs are poorly coded. At times, enemies fail to see you, giving you an easy opportunity to take out what was meant to be an obstacle to your mission, and some civilians won’t move when you use the ‘get on the floor’ command unless you hit them. This happens frequently enough for you to notice, but not frequently enough to be annoying.This game is definitely not for everyone. If you’re in the mood to senselessly murder random characters you meet online, go check out Call of Duty. But if you’re up for re-enacting a Guy Ritchie movie and meticulously planning a heist with three of your closest buddies, you should definitely check this out.by Joshua OlekCourtesy of Radio Respawn, SYN Media

September 26th 2013
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