I’m a huge fan of the movie Heat. I love the (fictional) rolling gunfights in the streets after a heist gone bad, the in-fighting amongst the crooks as well-made plans fall to pieces, and the seemingly perfect plan that makes your heart pound as you wait for the inevitable to happen. To save heist-movie fans like myself from federal prison or being riddled with a SWAT team’s finest .223 ammo, Overkill Software created Payday 2: The Heist . . .
In Payday 2: The Heist you control an aspiring bank robber with a predilection for surgical gloves, decorated hockey masks and heavy ordnance. Your character works alongside three other like-minded thugs to pull off a bank heist. The three other players can be either AI or online players. And don’t worry about the getaway car, there is always a driver that will take you away as long as you reach the drop point. Update: After I finished my review of the game a new feature was added in which, if you alerted the police to your presence, you have a chance to have your getaway car crash and open a new stage has been implemented.
At the onset of the game the four armed amigos will have identical stats, outside of how you spend the money from your heists on weapons, armor and masks. Once you complete your first heist you’ll earn experience and unlock 4 classes to choose from.
If you like to sneak around and get in and out with anyone noticing you’re going to want to choose the Ghost class which – you guessed it – specializes in doing things the clean way. The other end of the spectrum is the Enforcer class which excels at direct confrontation and extended firefights. The other two classes are leadership roles; Mastermind and Technician. They are best suited for defensive roles and are armed with explosives and deployable turrets.
One of the cool things about Payday 2 is the fact that the game doesn’t shoehorn you into any of these classes or force you to dedicate yourself to any single one. You can make a hybrid class that excels at sneaking and running silently but also at wielding shotguns. Granted, this wouldn’t be the best combination, but the game lets to make that decision for yourself, which is always a plus in today’s, press-A-to-win gaming world.
If some of you guys are wondering why I’m reviewing a game on TTAG you either haven’t been around here long enough or don’t realize how many guns are in this game. While not Call of Duty or Stalker in terms of in-game arsenals, Payday has a good assortment of guns and a metric-ton of accessories for them. Allowing you to tweak a gun to your preferred play style.
Yes that is a suppressed AK with a doctor sight and a Dragunov stock.
Before I get too ahead of myself, let me walk you through a mission. As any good bank robber knows, if you want your heist to have any success, you have to case the joint first. Keep an eye on the guards and take note of their patrol routes. You’ll need to know the location of the vault and your entrances and exists; you know, just in case the cops are called.
Did you notice the bank manager likes to take smoke breaks? And when he does, he leaves the back door wide open while doing so. You wait out back and hold him at gunpoint, hogtie him and then use the back entrance to move the cutting torch into position…
That’s when the guard from the roof starts barreling down the stairwell yelling, “drop the gun!” and begins shooting. The plan went to hell; start tying up hostages in the lobby while while barricading the windows.
Things go from bad to worse when Kevlar-clad FBI rescue team shows up with riot-shields and M-4’s. Your teammate lets you know that the drill has jammed and needs to be reignited, so you head back to the vault only to run into the SWAT team flash-bang in mid flight. BOOM! You can’t see or hear anything so you wildly spray your AK in the direction you last saw them.
You manage to down two, forcing the other to retreat, but you’re on the ground bleeding out. Your buddy runs up to you and patches you up, good enough for now. You notice you’ve only got 2 spare magazines at this point and there’s roughly 40 cops outside giving the bank a lead bath while you wait on the damn drill which has jammed again.
Making a mad-dash to the break room, you grab some extra mags from the ammo cache your buddy put there, and swing back to the vault to restart that crappy drill. “I’m hit!”, you hear one of your teammates call out. After braving the barking muzzles of 2 dozen angry cops you drag your buddy back inside and patch him up just in time for the drill to finally finish cutting open the vault.
For your efforts you are rewarded with several stacks of cash behind a locked gate. Thankfully one of the guys on your crew as a cement saw and starts cutting through while the rest of you cover him.
He finally breaks through after what seemed like hours and you fill your duffle bags with as much cash as you can fit. Your getaway driver calls and tells you he’ll be there any minute. So you all restock on ammo and start the treacherous trek across the street while laying as much suppressing fire as you can.
You toss the bags into the van and get the hell out of dodge.
Sound intense? It is, it’s also hard as hell if you do things the loud way on the higher difficulty. With tazer-wielding heavily armored officers and super heavy bomb-squad guys who take a dozen rounds to the head before calling it quits. Basically the game encourages you to act like professionals, meaning in and out as fast as possible, but makes victory possible even if everything goes to hell. This kind of flexibility is where Payday 2 really shines.
Hardcore gamers out there are probably wondering about game feel. Sometimes the controls for a game seem like a total afterthought and just feel wrong for the genre. Like when a game is designed for console players using a controller and then it’s ported to the PC. PC gamers expect the game to have re-programmable or bindable controls. That way instead of having to reach across the keyboard you can simply hit the key next to your index finger to reload. Stuff like that is really easy to notice and fix.
Well I have good and bad-news and then a little good news. The game feel in terms of aiming and shooting is good in Payday 2 with separate sensitivity settings for both hip and aimed fire. The bad part is there is no option to adjust mouse input acceleration – yet. Overkill have been great about implementing user feedback into free updates.
The final good news is that Overkill software tends to respond quickly to it’s users suggestions so it shouldn’t be too long before that option is included. In fact I mentioned to the producer the fact that the AK reloads like an AR,the magazine is inserted straight up as opposed to rocked in place, and it has been added to their change-log.
I played the title for roughly 26 hours before submitting this review and while some aspects of the game could use some polish the game is an excellent bargain and an impressive performance by an indie game developer.
Overall Rating: * * * * *
Payday 2, like its confectionery cousin, is a rich and enjoyable experience that is nutty as hell. The moments where you and your good buddies are executing a seemingly perfect plan when all hell breaks loose are truly memorable. You won’t find better in any other title. You’ll feel like Deniro in Heat as you and your pals are forced into a rolling gun fight in the streets of a downtown metropolis.