If you’ve ever seen the movie The Italian Job or Oceans 11, you’ve probably come away from the experience thinking that you should get into international thievery. Then you come to your senses, realize that it wouldn’t be anywhere as easy as it was in the movie, and move on with your day. Well, luckily for you, the teams at Overkill Software and 505 Games have created Payday 2, which allows you to play the role you always wanted to play, but thought was too dangerous. You get to feel the adrenaline rush of trying to beat the clock with an ever-increasing police presence pushing back, all from the comfort of your living room.
Payday 2 is, at its core, a task-based first-person shooter. In the game, you play as one of four thieves that hop around the globe from one heist to the next. Once you choose your heist, you’ll be given a set of instructions to complete your task successfully. As you would expect, something always summons the police to your location, so you’ll have to carry out objectives while taking care of the heat. Once you accomplish all the objectives in the heist, you are graded on your performance by how much money you got away with; the more you get, the better you did and the more you can unlock. The game sounds fairly generic, but luckily, there is more here than just a standard FPS. Payday 2 actually does manage to get the adrenaline flowing. It keeps you on your toes, and you are constantly making snap decisions that ultimately affect your bottom line. Whether you have to set up an information exchange with drugs or you’re pulling down priceless pieces of art, the atmosphere is usually intense. In the end, you’ll be asking yourself, “Do I go for one last run of jewels or do I get out of here?” It is decisions like that that keep you invested and make this game greater than the sum of its parts.
This was largely the case for the game’s prequel, but this time around, there are some new options that are worth checking out. Payday 2 emphasizes gun play more than its predecessor. There are way more guns and modifications, and it really tailors itself to individual strengths. You’ll have your choice of many new weapons, armor, items, and masks. Each weapon has its own strengths and weaknesses, including damage, range, and recoil. Each weapon can also be further customized with attachments. Each attachment modifies the stats for each gun, allowing further customization. There are also several different kinds of body armor which also has an effect on your character. Armor can accrue a movement penalty, affect the amount of damage you take, and some armor can even make you harder to spot. Finally, as if there weren’t already a ton of ways to customize your character, you can use class-based items like trip mines and ammo bags. Needless to say, you can create the exact character you want in this game. It is rare to see this much customization in a game, and it is nice to be able to make your character perform the way you are most comfortable.
Payday 2 also gives you more ways to complete objectives. You don’t always have to run in guns-blazing and fight wave after wave of police. If you do a good job of scoping out the job and getting everyone in line quickly, you may not have to get into giant shoot outs on your way out and that means bigger bonuses for you. However, you will still have to face some opposition at some point, so it is always best to take a balanced approach. Whether you decide to do your best Rambo impression and take on the force head-on, or you take a more stealthy approach, you can still get to the same point in the game. Payday 2 also grades your approach and how well you executed it, and those grades are available after you finish the mission.
Another great feature in Payday 2 is the skill tree. You’ll be able to spend experience in one of the following trees: Mastermind, Enforcer, Technician, and Ghost. Each skill tree caters to a different style of play, so you should be careful when investing in these trees. The Mastermind tree deals with crowd control and is a more supportive role in the operation. His skills focus on intimidating civilians and reviving fallen teammates. The Enforcer is exactly what you’d expect: his skills focus on increasing weapon damage and decreasing the amount of damage taken. The Technician focuses on getting the team entry to wherever they need to be and is generally more defense-based. His skills focus on the effectiveness of vault drills and he later gets the ability to drop turrets for defense. Finally, the Ghost is a movement-based class. His skills focus on speed and his ability to stay hidden. He is perfect for running the loot to the truck.
Finally, what game would be complete without a solid four player co-op experience? Luckily for us, Payday 2 has an amazing online matchmaking systems that truly encourage prospective players to match up their abilities as best they can. Everyone benefits from mutual cooperation, so choose your team wisely. While this online experience may sound generic, it really isn’t. It encourages players to work together, and any team that takes on a job is rewarded based on how well everyone worked together. It is definitely a unique experience and a blast to play with your friends or even random players.
Overall, Payday 2 is an excellent game. The levels of customization are vast and you can rest assured that no two players are exactly alike. Whether you like to run in and cut down the force or you’d rather take a supporting role, the choice is yours. When you combine that with a rock solid online matchmaking system and room for up to four different players, this game is a breath of fresh air for first-person shooter fans. If you are looking for something different or are just looking for a well-crafted, fun game, this is definitely the game for you.
This review is based on a review copy of the PlayStation 3 version of Payday 2 developed by Overkill Software, published by 505 Games.
- Customization Galore
- Great Co-op / Online
- Poor Solo Experience