After a long, long, incredibly long wait Payday 2 is finally out. Which means shoulder your rifle, holster your pistol and strap on your mask because the SWAT teams are inbound and they don’t know the meaning of “Giving Up”.
For those who are familiar to Payday, you’ll know a fair bit about the story aspect of the game. For those that are new to the franchise, first off welcome, secondly get down otherwise your team will get tired of picking you up and finally grab the cash goddamit! Anyway, in terms of story Payday doesn’t really have much – if you’re familiar with the first one there is more of a pretense and set-up and progression but it’s not actually fleshed out or integral in any major way to the game. There isn’t a story as such – the game focuses more on personal progression and having the experience of being a true Heist Team. It’s sort of like L4D in this regard.
In terms of gameplay, Payday 2 will feel incredibly familiar to those who played the original, in terms of basic gameplay and co-op mechanics, however many things are improved or polished to make the game feel that bit more responsive. A good example is the new and highly anticipated stealth mechanic, this will allow players to stealth certain missions without a hitch or without alerting anyone – however you’ll need either great skills or a good team as it can be harder than you think. There is also the idea of loot actually being carried by players, so instead of just securing money, each player will have to carry an actual bag of money. This can weigh you down causing slower movement, and the heavier the loot the shorter distance you can throw it. Instead of money acting as an XP bar, you get actual experience and actual in-game money, which allows you to level up part of your skill tree or buy or customise the plethora of new guns available to the player. Cash can also be used to buy `assets` for a level – such things as an extra medic bag, an ace pilot for the helicopter or even a sniper to help take care of those extra pesky foes.
Looking at gameplay design the biggest change would have to Crime.net. In Payday you’d select 1 mission from about 8, the difficulty and your own gear. Now, with Crime.net you are presented with a map of heists, in progress or fresh. However, you must be quick to choose your mission as each has a timer attached to it before it’s removed and another takes its place. As well as Crime.net, heists themselves have changed. Originally you’d do a job and you’d know what would happen, now, however, heists are broken down into days with the largest being 7 days worth. A day is a phase in the heist – for instance securing cocaine – and the next phase might be fencing the cocaine whilst trying to also protect it. At the end you’ll receive a nice bundle of money and the more risk in the job (i.e. the harder the difficulty) the higher the payday. When you get paid you receive money in both an offshore account and a spending account – for instance I have near $100M in my Offshore and $3M in my spending account (trust me, guns get expensive!). The spending account does what it says on the tin, you spend it: on guns, on assets, on mask customisations and the like. The offshore account however has a bit of mystery to it – supposedly you can buy assets for your safehouse and that may come from your offshore account.
Visually, Payday 2 is better looking than Payday. It’s more crisp, sharp, and with all the things like weapon/mask/safehouse customisation it’s a lot more enjoyable. Whenever performing an action you see a large circular progression bar, which is helpful and very obvious but really the beauty in Payday lies in the detail on some of the levels. For instance knocking over a jewelry store looks and feels like how you might imagine, however missions where you cook meth (it’s fun but hard), the level looks both fun and cool as you have the lab set up that you can interact with and actually cook some of your own blue crystal. Payday 2 however can get incredibly hectic as original fans will remember, so don’t be surprised when two bulldozers pop out of nowhere and you’re looking every which way trying to shoot down the opposition.
Payday 2 is one of the few games where the soundtrack is in the forefront of my mind. It’s hard not to – you may not notice the build up as an assault wave is about to be mounted but you’ll notice for sure once you hear that drop and the very loud, fast paced music kicks in. I’ll admit that I’ve even found cause to start dancing. In-game, the music is so up-beat, which is interesting because the music is in time with assault waves, so when there aren’t many police around the soundtrack quiets down. When an assault wave is in progress however, the music is just about the only thing you can hear. So you may want to dance to the music, but it also signals the game getting much harder. Yes it’s fun, but you’ll also learn to fear the inevitable build up that ends with nothing but gunfire.
Payday 2 is one of the few games I find where the experience becomes an end unto itself. You play because you want to experience it. This gives it amazing lasting appeal – you can have as much money as you want but you won’t necessarily be saving up, you just want to boost some jewels. The original Payday had about 8 missions, and you could plug hours away into that. Payday 2, with the improved 30 missions, the random generation of where items may spawn, the larger arsenal to chose from and the customisation options available, I’ve no doubt players will be plugging more and more hours into this game with each passing day.
Overall Payday 2 is a vast improvement on the first, a great game all round and combines challenge with pay-off well enough for you to know if it was your fault, your team-mates fault or just bad-luck.
(Review copy provided by 505 Games, thanks from OnlySP.)
ONLY SINGLE PLAYER SCORE
Story – N/A
Gameplay/Design – 9/10
Visuals – 8/10
Sound – 8/10
Lasting Appeal – 10/10
Overall – 9.5/10
(Not an average)
Platform: PC, PS3, Xbox 360
Developer: Overkill Software
Publisher: 505 Games