Payday 2 Review
Developer: Overkill Software (a Starbreeze Studio)
Publisher: 505 Games
Release Date: Aug. 13, 2013
Platform: Xbox 360, PS3 & PC
Genre: First-person shooter, Action
Overkill’s sequel to the original Payday follows the avenue paved by its predecessor, punctuating the definitive experience of stepping into the shoes of a masked criminal and pulling off big jobs and getting away with the cash. The allure is still there in full force, and the game still incorporates that distinct Point Break feel while introducing fast-paced FPS action along the way.
The original culprits–Chains, Hoxton, Dallas and Wolf–don their clown masks and rifles to take part in even more dicey capers, using their deadly skills and devil-may-care nature to grab the loot and run with the money.
While the stylish flair of the Payday series is quite alluring, the gameplay is a volatile mix of tactical strategy and explosive first-person shooter mayhem. Teamwork is vital for every mission, and players must work together every step of the way to defend against hordes of police, heavily armed SWAT operatives, FBI agents and fearsomely armored juggernauts.
Payday 2 also offers an extensive array of character customization options including impressive skill trees that unlock passive and active abilities and an armament of powerful rifles and sidearms–each of which are fully customizable with mods.
In Payday 2, the risks are high but the payouts are even higher.
Game Mechanics: Heists, Teamwork Strategies & FPS Action
Payday 2 isn’t your average shooter: it’s filled to the brim with high-stakes action where every second matters and well-planned capers can turn into total chaos at a moments notice. It’s not your Call of Duty offering wherein players are a near-invincible protagonist that leaves hundreds of corpses in his wake–in this game you’re reminded quite often that bravado is quickly met with death.
It pays to be smart and quickly adapt to your surroundings while keeping a strong team dynamic, and and its core Payday 2 is all about tactical strategy, teamwork, and opportunism.
Like most team-based shooters, Payday 2 emphasizes the old “weakest link” adage by punishing players for their mistakes and rewarding them for their quick wits. Luckily there are dozens of ways to combine the game’s extensive skills and weapon offerings to fashion the perfect criminal syndicate, allowing players to customize their character and pull off the big heists that are the stuff of legend.
Rather than including a campaign mode with a series of linear missions, players will have the opportunity to navigate a virtualized database of missions called the Crime.Net. The interface features a variety of objectives plotted on a map of the city, with heists that vary in risk, difficulty, and goals, including everything from simple snatch-and-grab jobs to dangerous safecracking bank robberies.
The challenge of Payday 2 is due to a number of things, not just the constant influx of enemies that flood your location. The difficulty depends on the location of the level itself (what kind of cover can you use, are there stairs? windows? doorways? etc), the basic Crime.Net difficulty, your teamwork skills and the game’s basic mechanics.
In terms of mechanics, the game utilizes a radial health and armor combo meter that is extremely important to pay attention to. The white outer stripe is your armor, and it gets depleted quite fast, whereas the inner green stripe is your hit points (HP). Armor re-generates over time and HP doesn’t. Once your HP is gone, you get Downed, and a countdown begins before you’re “in custody” and consequently out of the game.
There are only a few ways to regain your HP: through a Doctor Bag, which can be dropped by one of your teammates, or with various passive skill upgrades that refill a portion of your health after you’ve been revived.
Using cover is the most important element in surviving a firefight with the police. You will be hiding a lot in this game, and it’s best to get used to it straight on. Don’t take any damage you can avoid, and don’t try to be a hero–you’ll just drag your team down.
It’s also worth mentioning that there are no aiming crosshairs in this game. Instead you’ll have to use the iron sights, however there is a snap-on mode similar to the CoD games. This provides a substantial amount of skill as well as hardening gamers’ FPS sensibilities and reflexes.
Payday 2‘s customization options are quite extensive and offer substantial flexibility. Every successful heist nets a certain amount of EXP, and upon level up players are rewarded a skill point. Skill points are then spent across four different trees (mastermind, enforcer, technician and ghost) each of which offer a different role. Players can mix-and-match points across varying trees, and must spend cash as well as Skill Points to upgrade an ability.
When it comes to Loadouts, players have the option to buy new primary and secondary guns when they become available. These also cost money, and are unlocked as you level up. You can also purchase armor, equipment and masks to customize the appearance and toughness of your character, each of which cost cash as well.
The guns all have their own balanced stats and mods can be attached to them to provide further enhancements. Mods aren’t bought, but are instead awarded in a unique randomized card mini-game that’s offered at the end of every successful heist. Gamers pick a random card, and anything from mask colors and mods can be unlocked.
Let’s Plan a Robbery: Heists & Missions
Every heist is different, but all of them have the same basic structure. The missions are punctuated with a casing mode beforehand, then defending a location against hordes of lawmen while the drill goes to work. Then you’ll have to snag a few bags and deliver them to various areas, all while gunning down the opposition–hey, it’s a kill or be killed kind of deal.
At the beginning players start out in a casing mode, where they can investigate their surroundings and make note of the guards here and there. Putting on the clown mask starts the heist proper, and taking down the security guards quickly can give you a nice advantage before the police start to show up.
Once you don your mask, the guns come out and people start to panic. It’s important to make the bystanders get on the ground to get out of the way, as every slain innocent nets $10,000 in cleanup costs. Every mission has different objectives, and they are shown on-screen. Most of the type the team will have to go to various locations–ie. safes, doors, etc–and use a time-based drill to open it up.