Published on August 20th, 2013 | by PJ Douglas


Review: Payday 2

“Now what if in Dog Day, Sonny wanted to get away with it, REALLY wanted to get away with it? What if – now here’s the tricky part – what if he started killing hostages right away? No mercy, no quarter. “Meet our demands or the pretty blonde in the bellbottoms gets it the back of the head.” Bam, splat! What, still no bus? Come on! How many innocent victims splattered across a window would it take to have the city reverse its policy on hostage situations? And this is 1976; there’s no CNN, there’s no CNBC, there’s no internet! Now fast forward to today, present time, same situation. How quickly would the modern media make a frenzy over this? In a matter of hours, it’d be biggest story from Boston to Budapest! Ten hostages die, twenty, thirty; bam bam, right after another, all caught in high-def, computer-enhanced, color corrected. You can practically taste the brain matter. All for what? A bus, a plane? A couple of million dollars that’s federally insured? I don’t think so. Just a thought.”
– Gabriel; Swordfish

Payday 2 is a game, not a good game, not a bad game. Just a game. It sits nicely aside the other games that will sit in your collections (Afro Samurai, Sonic Generations) that you don’t really want to get rid of but wont play everyday. It is good enough to keep and bad enough to infuriate. It is a simply a middle of the road game, but is it good enough to be a game in one of your ‘collections’ ? Read on…

Recently released at a bargain price of around £20 to £25 by Overkill Software Payday 2 is the sequel to Payday: The Heist, as mentioned in our article earlier in the month in which you and three friends (or AI’s) commit various heists and deals in order to become rich and retire somewhere in the Bahamas cocktail in hand with a nice big cigar.

The game offers you several heists with you unlocking more as you level up, each heist has varying difficulty levels offering more money and XP based on the level of police that turn up (think along the lines of GTA’s five star rank system) but most consist of, break in, drill a safe, get the safe, break back out, PROFIT!

If you are smart you can get in and out bagging up guards, answering their pagers and lock-picking windows and safes quickly with no one knowing, but more than likely someone will trip the alarm and you’ll end up fighting off the police while drilling into the safe and planning a tactical route to the escape van before you all get shot to bits and blame each other.

Every heist usually starts in ‘Casing mode’ as you scope out the building or buildings you will be robbing to see where their safes, security cameras and staff are, from there you put on your masks and bust in, the game allows you to shoot at any law enforcement figures with no consequence but to keep you on the good side of being bad guys, any hostages killed will incur a steep fine that will take away from your final payout, you can bark at the hostages to get down on the ground and then tie their hands behind their backs, this has a clever feature later on as if anyone is downed and cannot be revived within 30 seconds they are put in ‘custody’ and your Overseer ‘Bain’ will then haggle their release over two to three minutes for the life of one of the hogtied hostages, a very clever way of putting ‘lives’ into the game and adding a sense of realism.

So the game can be played online with up to three friends or with three AI controlled crew members, they hold their own in battle but this is where the game can fall apart a little bit for example… The Jewellery Store heist, get it, smash the display cases, bag up the loot and make it to the getaway van with a minimum of four bags (eight on harder difficulties) with an online crew this is great fun, either all holding off the cops then running together or setting up a chain between the store and the van throwing the bags down the line while keeping in cover, but with three AI’s they wont pick up the bags, so that’s four trips to and from the van by yourself which gets really tedious if you get shot down on the final run as that is the most risky part. This also happens in every other heist with you feeling like you just have three sentry guns with you that cant do anything else.

So definitely a multiplayer game, the other reason for this is that without communication it is hard to pull off the perfect heist by using everyone’s skills. Every heist gives you points to spend on one of four upgrade trees, aiming towards either stealth, gunplay, technology or crowd control with the ability to move between them at will and make every character different, will you be the one who levels up to get the C4 to get into safes quickly or the one who unlocks the nearly invincible armour to fight off the cops? Will you unlock the medical bag to heal your team or would you rather supply them with ammo and just slug it out? This variation along with randomly generating levels (same basic building but walls / safes / valuables move) means no two heists will ever be the same and make every time you hold up a bank feel different.

The heists can be as simple as a snatch and grab lasting around ten minutes, but later heists take place over multiple days and with multiple branching paths, one has you cooking up some meth for a deal after the cooks are killed, get it right and you’ll get to make the deal smoothly, mix things wrong and the building catches on fire leading to a completely different set of events and consequences, this keeps things exciting on top of the previously mentioned random elements and means you are always on edge in case things change from the way they played out last time, constantly adapting to survive in any new situation.

After every job you get a ‘Payday’ this allows all players to choose from one of three cards and randomly get a new mask, gun attachment, pattern or colour for your mask which you can use your hard earned money to treat yourself to and really set yourself apart from the crowd. One slightly odd thing about this system is that it is completely random, you get parts for guns you might not be using, and might go 50 heists without getting a new mask. I applaud the rarity therefore of some masks, but it can be annoying when you buy a new favourite shotgun, only to unlock silencers for rifles.

But.. It is only £20, this keeps bounding around your head as you play, yes the levels have invisible walls, yes there is the occasional issue with guards and hostages clipping through scenery. Yes the shotgun feels a little bit like a rifle at times, but it’s a budget title with only fun as it’s end goal. No real plot, just shotguns, car chases, stealth and stealing paintings for a man called ‘The Elephant’.

With five DLC’s planned to roll out over the next year, rumours of it sold out everywhere and a thriving online community of varied talents as we speak, this is one game to get behind while you can.

“My old man wrote me a letter from prison once. It said if you don’t want to end up in here, stay away from crime, women and drugs. Trouble is, that don’t leave you much else to do, does it?”
– Frankie; The Business.

Review: Payday 2 PJ Douglas
Replay value

Summary: A great little game that will no doubt carve out a little niche in many gamers collection for being a great example of a perfect budget co-op game... With clown masks and shotguns.


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About the Author

Raised in the late 80s on a steady diet of Sonic the Hedgehog and Cherry Coke /// World traveller, Rum baron, Situation Defuser and All Round Good Guy /// “A lot of things that happened [in the past] would have broken anybody else. I was able to survive. That's all that really matters.”

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