For our final review in the “Only on PSN” campaign, we turn to Payday: The Heist. In Payday: The Heist you play as one of four criminals. Your objective is to pull off a heist and walk away with the most cash, gold, diamonds, and valuables you can grab. Along the way, you will encounter any combination of guards, police, and SWAT officers as they try to prevent you from walking away with the goods. How successful you are all depends on how well you can control hostages, suppress the police, and find your way to the payload.
Essentially, Payday is an objective-based, first-person-shooter. You will be briefed on the situation at hand, be given a list of objectives, and you have as much time as you need to get yourself into position to start the heist. Once you are satisfied that you are ready, press a button and the heist starts. You’ll then be given a list of objectives that you need to accomplish to pull of the heist successfully. These objectives range from setting up equipment to defending points while you are raided by police. Once you successfully complete all the objectives, you will have to escape to the getaway car to secure your payday.
The beauty of this game is that there are a number of locations outside of the typical bank robbery setting. This adds depth to the game, keeping players engaged in the premise of pulling off a robbery. From bridges to slaughter houses, you will experience a number of different environments instead of playing the same level over and over again, as you end up doing in other FPS games. This is a nice feature, considering that, with such a simple premise, the game could easily get trapped into a repetitive circle of gameplay. Luckily, this trap is avoided with new objectives for each stage and a fresh look at an oft repeated concept.
The respawn system in this game is particularly interesting; yet again, it makes a subtle change that keeps this game interesting while not falling into the mold that its predecessors set. The system works something like this: once you take enough damage, you will fall to the floor. If you are revived by a teammate during this time, you are back in action. If your teammates don’t revive you in time, you will be captured by the police. This is where the system takes an interesting spin. At this point, one of two different scenarios can pan out. You can either wait a minute or two, break free, and find your way back into the heist, or at the end of the police raid, you can be exchanged for a hostage. If your teammates want you back, they have to locate the hostage the police want, and the exchange will be made. Hostages can include civilians, bank employees, or police officers. Capturing police officers was an interesting addition, not to mention a good way to replenish your hostages. Police officers often find a way to free hostages quickly, especially if you aren’t paying attention. When you consider the hostage exchange dynamic, it was a good way to add some variety to the gameplay.
The leveling system is adequate, but confusing. You get reputation points from accomplishing tasks from the task list, as well as finishing any side objectives that may pop up. You use these reputation points to level your character up, which gives you access to new weapons. The problems with Payday‘s system is apparent in the lack of any progress bars. You don’t know how many reputation points you need to get to the next level, and that is extremely frustrating when you are making a push to get to the next level. There is very little explanation of how this system works, so you find yourself wading through trial-and-error until you start progressing the way you want to.
There is a co-op mode that will allow you to bring in up to four human players in a game. You will always have a team of four people in a game, but any missing players will be replaced by AI characters. If you have a full team of four human players, the co-op is a great and compact experience. Games don’t take a long time to play, so given twenty to twenty five minutes, you can play a stage from beginning to end. The problem with the co-op mode resides with the AI characters. AI characters tend to follow you around instead of taking cover, capturing, or watching the hostages. To really get the most out of this mode, it is strongly recommended to get some friends and play that way.
Payday: The Heist is a good first person shooter game despite its shortcomings. There is a decent amount of weaponry, nice variety of stages, and an interesting respawn twist to the standard FPS system. The game is easy to approach, but when it comes down to the finer details of the game, the lack of a comprehensive instruction manual really holds the game back. The multiplayer makes this a better game, as long as you can fill the four man roster. If you don’t have a full house, the AI characters can’t hold their own, which makes the difficult stages in the game even more difficult. Overall, I would recommend this game for FPS fans or those with friends who are FPS fans, as this game will offer you an experience that is different enough from the norm to make this something you should play.
[xrr rating=8/10, max_stars=10]
This review is based on a review copy of the Playstation 3 version of Payday: The Heist provided by Overkill Software and Sony Online Entertainment.