In order for me to review Payday 2, I must return to the original Payday: The Heist with a few comments. When The Heist was first announced I was amazed that the Overkill studio had such high ambitions and I preordered the first game on PSN. I was disappointed when I actually got my hands on it, I hate to type this, but overkill has redeemed themselves with Payday 2 mostly by improving on a number of flaws from PayDay: The Heist as this is a sharper and more polished experience. Miles above and beyond what I was hoping the original could ever have been. The ability to customize your masks was probably the most I wanted out of the first game, but here, there are more masks and options that I could ever have dreamed up. I will talk more about this later. Also, the soundtrack fits and this is not just more of the same as last iteration, it is a complete overhaul with some RPG elements and skill trees. When Payday 2 was announced earlier this year, I was skeptic, then when the beta released to Steam Pre-orders for the Career Criminal edition, I watched tons of gameplay and thought, this is what I’ve been waiting for… Overkill, Starbreeze and 505 Games have stepped up and beyond any expectations I had and I instantly purchased the Career Criminal Edition and started playing. I fell in love and haven’t stopped. Watch the video below, it is the Launch Day Trailer and shows the depth of what a heist involves.
PAYDAY 2 is the story of Dallas, Hoxton, Wolf , Chains and Bain is still offering you jobs. The story goes that Dallas, Hoxton, and Chains were either caught by the police or have since retired from their criminal careers, so you’ll notice that Dallas, Hoxton and Chains do not look like their predecessors, this is likely due to new “hires” to fill their roles. New to Payday 2 is the Safehouse, this, according to Bain, is where you “spend” most of your time when you not heisting. The safehouse is upgradable, the upgrades are mostly cosmetic, but as of this writing there is little information about the upgrades, possible future DLC updates? Also, you can practice safe cracking with your new unlockable skill abilities, i.e. how to set C4 on doors and safes, also there is a firing range to practice your gun skills. There is a room that has all your Primary Weapons displayed and your Mask collection, so you can peruse your purchases at your leisure. This is a great addition as it adds some grounding to what your doing in Crime.net. There is a safe room where all your spendable cash is laid out on a table and your “overseas account” money is stored for when you decide to skip town. Also new, as I just stated, is the Crime.net database, this is where you will be able to search and start up missions for heists. There is quite a large variety in mission styles, from robbing four stores all the way to complicated Art Heists as well. Instead of one linear map, some missions are Day Quests, meaning it could take from 1 to 7 days to complete. The longest mission I’ve seen is 4 days long but I am going to assume that as more DLC is released we will see Heists taking longer to complete.
The AI has been completely revamped and your AI companions just do not sit around needlessly, they do offer covering fire, help you up, but they still do not carry bags, break stuff or use any optional stuff that you can use like ammo bags or medical bags, does that drill need to be restarted? You’re doing it yourself when playing with AI. This is a game about teamwork and it’s better to play with a full human crew online. I would not recommend playing this game in offline mode as it takes some of the “fun factor” away with trying to plan out how your going to rob that bank, are we going to do this in stealth, taking out guards and how to do crowd control. Once things go awry, get ready for a gun fight. The missions are dynamic, meaning that safes, money and keycards are not always in the same place everytime. Also changing is where the “van” is parked for your escape. Depending on if and how many civilians are harmed this will also ramp up the difficulty as more and more S.W.A.T. teams, FBI teams using Shields and Tanks to try and stop you. The Room Host is able to add Assets to the mission, these are ranging from blueprints of the stores to extra ammo and medical bags that are in the mission, the host is also able to change the Risk Level, ranging from just regular cops to FBI teams. Heists that are completed in a stealthy way, offer bigger rewards with less time in the heist, since there aren’t any cops to deal with, just the security guards and civilians.
The RPG element of the game includes a skill tree that offers 4 different “styles” to choose from, The Mastermind class offers medical packs and is a great class for crowd control. The Technician Class is a demolitions and Drill expert, allowing this class to better keep cops at bay, with such items as Trip Mines, faster drill speeds with a less chance of breaking down, and utilizing Sentry Guns to better deal out anti-cop efforts. The Enforcer class offers ammo bags, longer throw distance for throwing bags of money. The Ghost Class is a stealth artist, being able to deploy various electronic countermeasures to disable Cameras, Alarms and even Cell Phones. Yes, the civilians, given the chance, will call the cops on you. While you are waiting for the host to start the mission you have access to your inventory and skills. The weapons offered have a varying degree of accuracy as you would expect, but they feel like they do carry some weight when firing them. The AK has a high recoil and can be unwieldy if you just hold the trigger down, as usual, Assault rifles are best in short spurts. The handguns sound like they pack a punch and every time I fired it, it just felt right. You can add new Stocks, grips, mags, barrels, sights etc, all at a cost of course. These affect every aspect of your chosen weapon in many ways, accuracy, recoil etc. After you successfully complete a heist there is a Payday screen where you can choose a card to get some extras, from extra cash to masks, weapon mods, mask materials. This is just a little “bonus” for completing your heist.
There are 12 character specific masks, 1 mask for the people that pre-ordered the game and 34 more masks that you can collect through Payday rewards. There is a set number of masks that you can “use”, meaning there are only so many open slots for masks, if your mask slots are full and you aquire a new mask and would like to use it, you can then sell a mask to make room for the new one. Also, unlike weapon modifications, the the mask, scheme, and pattern can only be used once. They are completely customizable from the type of material each mask is made out of, logos and colors as well.
David Goldfarb, Game Director at Overkill Software, has stated that there are over 15.2 million combinations for masks. The created masks can be worn by all four characters.
The controls are your standard fare for PC games, WASD are your movement. The ‘F’ key is your interact key, from keeping civilians in line, zip-tieing them, or if your skills are high enough, getting security guards to handcuff themselves. Starting/restarting drills and taking money. You can also call out guards and heavy’s with the ‘F’ key. The ‘G’ key is your key to get your mask on, after you’ve cased the joint and are ready to start the heist. Melee is handled with the ‘E’ key. Shift/CTRL are your standard run/crouch keys. They keyboard controls are customizable so I did remap the Push-To-Talk key to the Left Alt, only because it works better with my Z-Board.
Using the Diesel 2.0 engine shows remarkable improvement from the first game. The details are there, from the bullet holes and the overall feel of being out in the street. Everything looks crisp and clean. I did not notice any screen tearing, pop-ups, but I did encounter one glitch where I was downed in a level and wound up inside a stack of pallets. My teammates were able to revive me, but all I saw was the inside of the pallet stack. I’m not looking for ultra-realism in most of my games, but the textures used for the civilians and the attention to detail of the cops is of very high quality. I feel like I’m really “there”, making this actually happen. If you are near a cop spawn point, it is very easy to get overwhelmed as they just sort of – pop – in, catching you off guard. This is not a complaint, but just a chance of wrong place or wrong time. The people move with purpose, civilians will run for the door at the first chance, or just randomly stand up on you, possibly getting in the way of a firefight. The cops/SWAT/FBI will try to flank you, drop tear gas through open ventilation systems, rendering a room unusable and you WILL die trying to get through, at least that is my experience, they will also dodge your fire by rolling in and out of cover, this adds to some of the realism and you can feel the weight of excitement when trying to reach the van with a bag full of money on your back and a street full of SWAT/FBI teams.
I’m going to start with the music, written and performed by Simon Viklund, I have to admit really sets the tone and apprehension for the game. From the opening cinematic to when it really hits the fan, you know things are about to get worse when the whole tone of the music changes. For me, this is probably some of the best background music to play to, not giving too much away, but setting a great tone for each and every heist. Hearing the Payday music at the Payday screen gives you a real sense of accomplishment. The voice acting is superb, far better than Payday: The Heist. With Dallas, Hoxton and Chains getting a new look and new voice actors shows a remarkable improvement over the original. Wolf and Bain are voiced by their original actors and it seems that even they have stepped up their game. I really feel involved in what happens with missions based on short quips from the characters, when you put your mask on to start a heist, there is usually some sort of short quip from your character, ranging from “Let’s do this” to “Let’s Break Some Bad”. The gun sounds are among my favorite part of this game. Shooting your pistol indoors sounds loud, and it should, like I said before the guns have “weight” with them and the sounds only adds to this level of “realism”. When shooting outside you can hear the echos, even the cops shooting at you, you can hear the outside echo even indoors. When you take out security guards, there is a new option, once you take a security guard down, either by knocking them out or shooting them, their pager will beep, you must answer the pager and you respond as if your that guard, if you do not answer, alarms are triggered and they alert everyone around to your presence. Well done on the sound from Overkill and Starbreeze.
There is no Multiplayer here, only Co-op. I cannot stress enough the use of communication here. If you can’t communicate, you will fail, and fail miserably here too. It is usually best to make sure that you have people from one class each, as this way you have a better chance of pulling heists off successfully and with less trouble. I jumped into a game and it was the RATS level, where you make Meth, then sell the Meth for info and take the money and run, then you have to assault a bus with witnesses. Well, our leader suggested that we drop the meth get the money and then once that was all complete we take out the gang and get out of dodge. Since we had such great communication and everyone did their job, we were very successful. Giving and taking orders is key, otherwise it’s a complete mess, I’ve had easy missions go south very quickly because everyone else decided they weren’t going to cover the back and just did what they wanted. I have noticed that the PC community is very forgiving on mistakes, like if an alarm is tripped during a stealth heist, usually it will fail, as no one had intended to get into a huge firefight, but they are also very forthcoming on tips and tricks and what to do during an assault or robbery.
This is a TRUE GEM…This is the game I was looking for when Payday: The Heist was released. I’m glad Starbreeze and 505 Games felt they had something special here and funded this. To be honest, I absolutely love this game and I cannot wait to get back in and start heisting again. Overkill has done an amazing job, if I’m not playing, I’m either listening to the soundtrack, watching other people play or watching my playthroughs over and over again. For some, this may seem repetitive, but with the introduction of dynamic heists, nothing is ever the same over and over again. For example, in the four stores heist, sometimes the stores will not have a safe, sometimes there’s three, it varies quite a bit and adds a lot more strategy to each playthrough. I do not feel like I’m repeating what I do, because of the dynamic spin on this and I cannot praise these studios enough to how happy I am that they have breathed new life into this. The action is awesome, and mostly addictive. Playing with friends is equally enjoyable as you can really plan things out, but this should be done regardless of whom your playing with. Thank you Overkill…that is all…I’m outta here, got a meeting with Bain about some Jewels…
Publisher: OVERKILL Software, Developer: 505 Games
Release Date: August 13 US [PC, PSN Digital Download]
August 16 US [PS3, Xbox360 Retail Disc]
August 13 EU [PC]
August 14 EU [PSN - Digital]
August 16 EU [XBox360, PS3 - Retail Disc]
Platforms:PC, XBOX360, PS3 Digital: YES only PC and PS3 get digital download,
Retail Disc available for Xbox360, PS3
Price: US $29.99 PC
$39.99 PSN/Retail Disc Xbox360/PS3
EU £24.99 PC
£31.99 Xbox 360/PS3
ESRB: M | PEGI: 18
Online Players: 4 Co-Op, 4
Online Pass: No