Payday 2 promises to merge the frantic pace of tactical first person gunplay with old school cops and robbers. You even carry around duffle bags stuffed with dollar bills and drive around in unmarked vans. Overkill Software really lived up to their name here. This is a crime simulator of note. Payday 2 takes what the first game did and moves further into an online space with more focus on co-operative play, which is rightfully where the series needed to be. Does it deliver the goods? Is it worth your hard earned cash or will it rob you blind?
This game is a typical first person shooter with some interesting twists thrown in. You'll be shooting and breaking things to get the job done. Teams can consist of up to four men, each with different skill sets: The Enforcer, Mastermind, Technician and the Ghost. Any combination of these classes can be used and you can level yourself up into any one of these disciplines. Technicians are strong with equipment and items. They'll assist you in setting up turrets and explosives. Enforcers provide your muscle support by lifting heavy items and providing extra ammunition.
Payday 2 can easily turn into a reflex-intensive and ammunition-wasting shooter if you're sloppy or don't plan well enough. Make a single mistake like attacking a security guard while another walks by and you're asking for trouble. Also - not answering pagers or phones in time when incapacitating policemen will result in the cops being alerted to your presence. As your difficulty increases and your heist time progress police respond more aggressively and will start calling in SWAT teams to bring you in.
The tendency of drawing out shooting sequences changes as more advanced equipment is acquired. Jobs get more interesting such as one particular heist where a thermite drill was used to break into a bank vault while your up skilled Mastermind teammate kept civilians intimidated as the job became more tense. Despite having more control options over your situation, Payday 2 can turn a situation around on you in the blink of an eye. In one mission everything was going smooth until a rogue civilian activated a jewellery's store's silent alarm. A small army arrived in a short time and the job became that much tougher. The need for cover in this game is an absolute necessity for survival. It's just a pity that the is so little of it at the beginning of the game.
Sam Fisher need not apply here
That leads me to task of being stealthy. Being stealthy here is no mean feat. You'll need a competent team to help you get through each mission with complete stealth. Each class has a part to play here. One oversight from any team member has the tendency blow your cover instantly.
Warning: Don't play offline
The game uses CRIME.NET, a network offering you jobs posted both offline and online. You're going to want to be online with friends to really appreciate the co-operative nature of the game. This is mainly because of the dim A.I. that doesn't seem to respond to your orders the way need them to. They also have a pesky habit of dying and getting caught by the cops too often, making your missions with them more difficult missions much harder. The NPC characters also have a tendency of getting stuck in places they shouldn't.
Surprising Skill Sets
Payday 2 has a surprisingly deep skills development system that doesn't look much more different to the skilltrees in role-playing games. Once you've chosen your class there are 6 tiers to progress into. Reaching Tier 6 takes time, and you're going to have to complete every optional objective on your missions to quickly get there.
Dirty Filthy and Sexy
The gritty presentation stands out here. The urban locations featured in-game are designed according to their demographic. Banks in successful districts are minimalist but lavish while Parking lots are filthy and dull. Even jewellery stores show their excess in far less than subtle ways. While Payday 2 doesn't look anywhere near as good as other shooters such as Battlefield 3 and Crysis 3 on the Xbox 360, it doesn't look rubbish either. Perhaps this was an optimisation decision made by the developers. Having a game optimised for co-operative play often requires that pretty visuals have to be sacrificed for better frame rates.
I'd love to see greater environmental destruction. As things are, the levels around you take quite a beating and you can see it in shattered glass and battered items such as gym equipment and car windows. It's just that I feel that when you have an all out gun fight of the likes you see in Payday 2, having a greater visual indicator of the chaos around you like bits of concrete being torn off walls does add to immersion. There are times when textures lack "roughness" and flaws that make environments feel more real.
Loud and Proud baby!
Guns fire off loudly and proudly here. There is no shortage of cinema in this area. Whether SWAT grunts are screaming away around you, or glass is trickling to floors Payday 2 makes you at least feal aurally involved in the experience. The only snags I encountered were in the stereotyped voices used for each criminal character. The slimy british safe cracker sounded perfectly at home in the frenetic world of the game but felt shallow in the face of the sharp sounds of brass ejecting and boots rushing around you.
Payday 2 is fun if you only play it online. Play it offline and you'll be bored before long. I'm assured by some fans of the series that this second instalment is far superior to the previous game and if you're a fan there's much to love here. Just remember to find friends willing to play with you, otherwise consider docking that pay of yours for something more single player friendly.
Don't miss out on playing Cops & Robbers with your friends, order it from kalahari.com here, or download it for PC from GamersGate here.
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