Summary [10 out of 10]
It’s not about the money… you’re right it is completely about the money. Glorious fat stacks of digital cash for you to mentally Scoorge McDuck through.
Payday 2 is a FPS that relies heavily on co-op play, you’re going to need an excellent 4 person squad to commit crimes and avoid doing time. Most likely this game will catch some flak for content but really this is about as story driven as Left 4 Dead and Left 4 Dead 2; loosely connected stories provide a backdrop for intense action that plays out like the best parts of Heat and The Town.
What It’s Like:
The mechanics are reminiscent of Left 4 Dead. FPS, primary and secondary weapons, special items (trip mine, health pack, ammo bag) and waves of bad guys. In this case it is the 5-0 and not infected droves of post-human hungry hungry hippos. After each mission you acquire cash and skill points that can be used to upgrade your robber to become a master criminal and buy some shiny new guns along the way.
Co-op Gamplay: This game needs to be played online with a team of 4 people in communication with each other, I’m sure this point can be argued, but that is what the design was based on and really the best way to get the most out of the experience. You can play offline with 2 AI bots but prepared to do all of the heavy lifting, meaning, you will be the one hauling all the loot.
Skill tree/leveling: At first the tree was a bit puzzling but as you level quickly it is not hard to understand which class (Mastermind, Enforcer, Technician or Ghost) you’ll want to pursue at first. The glorious thing is that you can cherry pick low level skills quite easily from other classes to help round your character out. For example I strictly went Technician but have branched out more into Mastermind, with a touch of Ghost and a dash of Enforcer. If you so desire before doling out skills point AND money, both are required for gaining levels, go ahead and check out the skill calculator here.
Controls: Controls are tight and intuitive for shooting, FPS veterans will feel right at home and quickly adapt to various amounts of recoil and general handling from different weapons and their modifications. Movement is quick and precise, interaction with items can be a sticking point sometimes but it is a matter of making sure that the cursor is in the right position.
AI: The Police AI is pretty standard, at times they can be great at cheap-shots, but otherwise they are very relentless and excel at making you pay if you do not keep an eye on them. Assault waves become increasingly challenging and at high difficulty can be frustrating but more so rewarding when you walk away with that big score.
Customization: After each successfully completed job you are paid out in XP, cash and a random item draw. This can either be a mask, items for mask customization, an item for weapon customization or something completely random.
Story/Content: This is really a minor complaint, each mission has a self contained story which sometimes link up but otherwise it is a simple straight-forward goal. You’re briefed on objectives and allowed to use brute force or stealth and guile to accomplish your goals. A more developed minor story line, similar to Left 4 Dead would be great but this really is not a deal breaker. Hopefully with the 5 planned DLC packs we will be treated to a decent bump in mission selection.
Matchmaking: Currently the consoles have not benefited from the PC patch that is about 1.4 gigs, once this is introduced you should be able to sort and select matches with ease. Right now be prepared for overlap and constantly spawning lobbies.
Conclusion [10 out of 10]
Payday 2 flawlessly executes in the co-op fun department, while there are a few bumps in the overall structure of the game they are difficult to complain about when you are giggling like school girls and running from the cops with 3 other hardened gamer bank robbers.