Game Review: Payday 2

2013-09-12 07:25
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Cape Town - Rob a bank, rip off a jewellery store, tussle with drug dealers and blackmail powerful people. Sound like something you might be interested in? Then Payday 2 is the game for you.

Payday 2 puts you in the shoes of one of four criminals, Dallas, Hoxton, Wolf and Chains, each with their own back story as to why exactly they became criminals.

It is a four player co-operative first person shooter, and allows you to pull off crazy heists and other morally questionable jobs, netting you with cold hard cash, gold, drugs or weapons.

The game has a lot of depth, and allows you to play with up to three other people. The game also equips you with skills and weaponry to overcome most situations, be it a low-risk jewellery store robbery, or a high-risk high-reward bank heist that can go sour at any time.

And things will go sour, a lot, all hell will break loose, and you will have to react to changing circumstances. A stray civilian spotting you across the street, a badly placed camera or a guard you didn’t expect can end your picture perfect bank robbery and change it into a siren-filled warzone in the blink of an eye.

The game sports various difficulties, and the higher the difficulty, the higher the payout, but this also means greater risks and more formidable enemies.

The game offers you various perks and abilities through a level up system, to equip you with skills to handle situations as they come. As you complete missions and level up, you unlock better guns, as well as earning points to put into one of four skill trees.

Classes

The game has four classes: The Mastermind, Enforcer, Technician and Ghost. Here is a breakdown of these classes:

- Mastermind: Masterminds excel at crowd control, handling civilians when you burst into a bank and getting the security personnel to surrender. Intimidation and party buffs are your poison, and at higher levels civilians and security forces will even help you in your quest to rob them blind. The Mastermind is also equipped with a medic bag, to keep friends healthy and happy.

- Enforcer: Enforcers excel at taking and receiving damage. They can absorb more damage, and dish out more damage when there are more enemies around them. This is the class you want at your back when things go awry, as they are perfect for handling those pesky police forces. Enforces are equipped with an ammo bag to keep friends stocked on ammunition for more shooting fun times.

- Technician: Technicians excel at breaking into safes and doors to get you that delicious free loot, as well as creating choke points when the cops come knocking. The Technician has perks that allow him to break into safes faster with pneumatic drills, they gain access to sentry guns that can be placed at choke points, and also get to blow stuff up with C4 and trip mines.

- Ghost: Ghosts excel at being stealthy and dealing with security systems. They enjoy being undetected, sneaking around and lockpicking, and long walks on the beach. The Ghost is equipped with an ECM jammer that can disable security cameras, delay alarms and open certain doors, and favours silenced weapons. They are also good at taking out targets stealthily and disposing of the evidence.

Crime.net

If Payday 2 can be flawed on one thing in particular, it is its AI system. Put quite simply, if you are playing by yourself and have AI enabled, you are going to have a bad time.

They stand around and wait for you to do everything, and when things go sour, they don't help with any of the mission critical tasks to finish the job.

Yes, they will shoot at the cops, but that's about it. Carrying around loot bags and taking out security cameras will fall on your shoulders. The AI companions feel like dead weight, that is why it is favourable to play with friends, or online.

This is where Crime.net comes into play. Crime.net is mission central, and will be the place you want to visit when you are ready to make some money. The game allows you to search for missions and join people from right across the world in criminal domination.

The game currently sports 11 missions of varying difficulties. You get normal, hard, very hard, and overkill difficulties, and each tier of difficulty sports an experience boost and payout bonus.

Playing with friends will allow you to go through missions much faster, as you will be able to communicate and strategise the best and most efficient ways to complete jobs. Having said that, I have queued up with random people I didn’t know and still had a great time and surprising success most of the time.

Masks

The signature of the game is the masks you hide behind when you do your heists. After the end of each successful mission, you will be given a screen with three cards on it.

You choose one, and behind these cards can either be cold hard cash, weapon modifications, new masks or mask colours and patterns. Masks can then be customised to differentiate you from the rest of the Payday 2 populace.

In my opinion this is the thing that keeps the game going. I have played this game for hours just to get to the next unlock so that I might unlock new masks that make my character look more formidable, scary or silly.

The game developer, Overkill, plans to bring more missions into Payday 2, but unfortunately you will have to pay for them, as they will be released in the form of DLC (Downloadable Content).

Overkill plans to release 5 DLC packs, and people who pre-ordered Payday 2 will receive the first DLC pack (Armoured Transport) for free.

The first DLC will probably be out before the game becomes stale, and will hopefully add missions that last longer than three ingame days.

To highlight my favourite aspect of the game would be thinking on your feet and reacting to changing conditions when the alarm sounds and the cops are on their way. You have to adapt and ensure that you get enough loot to the escape vehicle to make doing the job worth while.

REVIEW SCORE: 8/10

In summary, the game is a lot of fun, if you play with friends or online. The game has very little to offer you if you are looking to play on your own. The unlock and level up system keeps the game fresh and interesting, the missions are challenging to a certain degree and you get to rob banks. Enough said!

- You can pick up the game from Steam for $29.99, which currently translates to about R300. If you want to wait for a more favourable dollar/rand exchange rate, you can probably pick it up for a bit cheaper.

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