We've all thought about robbing a bank, right? Maybe the direct debit for the electricity bill was rejected, maybe you just didn't have enough money for that game you really wanted. The reason we don't immediately march into the nearest bank or jewellers and start filling bags (seriously, don't try this yourself) is because it's bloomin' hard work. Thankfully, here's PayDay 2 to illustrate how much work professional robbery really is.
Everybody be cool, this is a robbery!
The sequel to Overkill Software's 2011 indie hit PayDay: The Heist, think of it as the fiercely directed co-op action of Left 4 Dead transplanted from the realm of zombie horror into a world of sharp suited master criminals. The goal isn't merely survival, however, but personal gain what's the point of a clean getaway if you only come away with a measly million?
In expanding its original game, Overkill has fleshed out many of the gameplay ideas. You can now choose a specialist path for your character, for instance. Masterminds are the driving force of any criminal gang, able to control the room and keep hostages in line. As an Enforcer, you're the brute of the team, perfect for holding the cops at bay and soaking up damage with your heavy body armour. Technicians are the guys who get the vaults open, better at placing the drills that will crack the locks, and also able to use jammers to knock out cameras. Finally, the Ghost is your recon man, casing the joint before the heist begins, and providing valuable intel that will help the job go perfectly.
Why does he get to be Mr White?
Your job will not go perfectly, however. Once you're more experienced, and have used the level-up system to equip yourself with the very best gear and abilities, then you can start truly plotting a flawless heist where alarms are never triggered, hostages are neither harmed nor rescued, and you slip away into the night with huge bags of cash. At the start, it's much more down and dirty. You'll barge in, command everyone to get on the ground, and then try to grab as much loot as possible while shrieking alarms summon wave after wave of heavily armed police.
Thankfully, whether you're being slick pros or messy amateurs, PayDay 2 is a blast. The comparison to Left 4 Dead isn't just because it's a co-op game, but because both titles really focus on what's important: the unique stories you create with your friends (or strangers) as you battle your way through these broad scenarios. Using the new Crime.net lobby system there are a lot of jobs to choose from in PayDay 2, ranging from simple smash and grab store robberies to elaborate multi-part heists and stings, but while your objective never changes, the missions do. Every one is randomised so that building interiors are shuffled every time you play. You may get used to defending a particular spot, but that locked vault will be somewhere else entirely the next time you try a bank robbery.
Ain't a hard time been invented that I cannot handle
This is where PayDay 2 excels. It's a game that roars to life in the moment, as you devise tactics on the fly to try and break through a wall of police gun barrels while lugging heavy money bags to your waiting van. And it's a game that only gets more interesting, as you gain better kit and more varied abilities, which allow you to move away from blunt firefights and into more challenging and stealthy ways of playing.
It's just a shame that PayDay 2's big ideas aren't matched with technical polish. This is not a game to choose if you want to be dazzled with graphics, as environments, textures and characters are all basic and bland. It's not a very lifelike world either, with doors that won't close and rudimentary physics. You won't notice in the thick of the action, but when the ugly bits catch your eye it's definitely distracting. It's also worth noting that this is most definitely a game for online play. There is a single player offline mode, but when restricted to two AI partners who don't lift a finger to actually complete the job, you'll be hurrying back to multiplayer at high speed.
PayDay 2 has its problems but dig past the rough exterior and you'll find one of the year's most exhilarating and unique action games.
- Fantastic co-op action
- Endlessly replayable
- Lots of cool stuff to unlock
- Bland graphics
- Offline play is very weak
- Can be glitchy