If you’ve ever had the chance to play games like Call of Duty or Battlefield, the main objective is to work together to defeat the enemy or to accomplish a task like capture a base or arm/disarm a bomb. If you’re not playing with your friends it quickly becomes apparent that your team is full of lone wolf players (people who only look out for themselves and don’t support the team) or people who have no idea what to do. Now to turn around and say that a game has come out that requires 4 players to work together, I’d call you mad!
With Payday 2 that’s exactly what you get. The game centers around 4 Antagonists: Dallas, Chains, Wolf and Hoxton each portrayed to have their own individual skill Trees. You can choose between the Mastermind, the Enforcer, the Technician and finally the Ghost. Each have their own unique skills and abilities and you can build your character the way you like, dip into each of the skill trees or put all your points into one. However, you have to chose wisely as you can’t have all the skills. As with all games featuring skill trees the early unlocks are only minor bonuses to your character such as faster aiming or increased stamina so you can run slightly longer. However if you keep putting points into 1 skill tree you’ll eventually unlock the top tier skills which are unbelievable, these range from silently opening safes by hand or being able to revive your team members when they are down by shouting at them.
At this point we would discuss the story line, however, Payday 2 doesn’t seem to have a story line. All I understand is that you’re four bank robbers and you want money, its simple but it works for me. Once you’re in the main game, you log onto a thing called “Crime.net.” This will alert you to all available missions which range in difficulty. “Crime.net” also links you bank robbers and how much each mission pays out for successfully completing them. There are 2 variants of the missions, normal and pro. The only difference is the pro missions will pay out more but if you fail the mission you won’t be able to retry. Simple stuff but it adds an extra challenge to the game and bumps up the tension. Once you complete a mission you get chance to pick a card, you have a choice of three, the card you pick will either give you a weapon part, a mask, a mask customisation option or a cash bonus. If you’re really lucky, you’ll land yourself a infamous item, these can even be real masks used in an actual real-life bank robbery!
However, the game runs into a few problems. The missions don’t change much, but in game changes occur such as the routes taken by the A.I or the lay out of the level will slightly change, but the mission itself remains the same. After robbing the same bank for a week solid you think they would catch on. The hit detection of weapons is very questionable, the only option is to use a shotgun because they seem to be more accurate at range than an M16 and they drop most enemies in 1 hit, which is a positive because if you don’t kill them in 1 hit they to do a “knock back” animation in which the enemies seem to be impervious to bullets. The only two other things that let the game down is the ratio of enemies to ammo, you never seem to have enough and if you don’t have the “deploy ammo” skill, things can get really difficult. The last thing is the tank like durability of one enemy in particular, he has to be shot in the head otherwise bullets ping off him, even a double barrel shotgun to the chest won’t knock him back, the bullets just ping him off him like it would Superman. So when four of these guys start charging at you, it soon becomes a daunting challenge trying to take these guys out, let alone robbing a bank!
The game also includes a visibility meter to your outfit so you can see how much attention you draw to yourself, after all who wouldn’t notice a guy waiting outside a bank with a bullet proof vest and a shotgun? With every mission you can choose to be stealthy and maybe even pull the job off completely undetected. This approach opens up new aspect of the game that you wouldn’t normally discover should you choose a more direct route through the bank for example; knocked out guards will cause suspicion if you don’t answer their radio.
When you find the main objective, usually the bank vault, you’ll need to drill into the vault to get it open. This takes 300 seconds and the drill can break down and requires fixing. However smaller vaults and objectives can be opened by hand or blown open with C4 if you have the skill. Once open, the vault can get you up to 15 bags of cash or gold, to secure these bags you need to thrown them in the back of your escape van. If you leave these bags alone while securing others in your van, the police can pick them up and take them away so you can’t get them, the question begs; do you risk going for the big haul or getting away with only a few bags? All of this adds up to some amazing game play and interesting scenarios.
The bottom line is, for a budget title this game is down right brilliant. Small things like the deck of cards, the different routes to take on missions, the amount of weapons and their add-ons, playing with your friends all add longevity to the game and make it something truly fun and unique. You really cant go wrong with Payday 2, a serious contender for GOTY and it finally gives me the chance to use this phrase; “I’m the best there is at what I do, but what I do best isn’t very nice.”.
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