Payday 2 PlayStation 3 Review
For the better part of 2013 multiplayer gaming hasn’t been on my radar. I’ve been thoroughly enjoying the single player experiences of Tomb Raider, The Last of Us, and a host of indie titles. That being said, it felt good to round up the bro-dudes and heist to our heart’s content. I’d payed attention to Payday 2 for months leading up to it’s release. The web series and regular gameplay demos from Overkill gave me plenty to get excited about. When it finally arrived I was ready to dawn a clown mask and paint the town red.
The Payday crew is back after a much needed hiatus. Dallas, Hoxton, Chains, and Wolf team up once again to bring the pain to the Washington DC area. Your crew will have the opportunity to pull a large selection of job types with varying levels of difficulty. The more difficult heists offer larger experience and cash rewards. You’ll cut the crew’s teeth strong arming local businesses before moving onto jewelry stores, banks, art galleries, and kidnappings. One of Payday 2’s new additions is the safe house. A haven to store your ill gotten gains, hone your skills, and accept jobs off the Crime.net system. Currency gained via thievery is split into two categories. Your offshore account receives the lions share of your funds, with a smaller percentage going to your pocket. Spending money can be applied to a wide range of weapon and character upgrades, as well as mask customization (which is incredibly expensive).
The core cooperative gameplay of Payday 2 is worth writing home to momma about. Getting three buddies together to pull off a nicely orchestrated heist is a ton of fun (I say nicely orchestrated because I’ve yet to see a perfectly executed job). There’s four character classes to dump your experience points into. The Mastermind is takes point as the leader, offering the ability to manipulate NPC’s and patch up the crew when they’re in trouble. The Enforcer is a cold blooded killer, best described as the tank of the group, he can suppress enemies, provide ammunition, and offer up the brute force necessary to fend off the law. The Technician specializes in maintaining the Payday crew’s equipment. And the Ghost is able to blend in extremely well with his surroundings and jam electronic equipment like alarms and cell phones that throw a monkey wrench into your job. Combining the character classes correctly makes most heists run more smoothly, but there’s typically a point in every mission where you’re outed and the cops come into play. When this happens, pray you’re playing with three humans, because you’re downright fucked if you aren’t. Payday 2’s companion AI is completely worthless. It’s to the point where you’re almost forced to squad up if you want to have any chance at success. Companions will stand like pillars when you’re calling for help, face walls when cover fire is needed, and leap directly into a piranha tank of enemies with reckless abandon. Playing without a full crew is like signing your death certificate just minutes before it’s printed. The AI makes even the most menial jobs frustratingly difficult.
Solid shooting mechanics and above average hit detection make Payday 2 an assload of fun. You’ll have several semi and full auto weapons at your disposal, but for the most part, they feel relatively very similar. Weapon modifications offer better stocks, fore grips, optics, and frames to upgrade the performance of your weapons, and suppressors are generally available to heighten your success in stealth approaches. Though weapons tend to feel the same weight wise, there’s was a definite focus on weapon sway and stopping power. Switching from the default AMCAR to and AK makes a world of difference, especially in the enforcer role. In respects to the core shooting mechanics, Overkill nailed it. The combat is satisfying and accurate, and every now and then, the cosmos align and you mow down a corridor of SWAT team members in an instant, or skillfully pick off a sniper that’s been causing your team heartache.
Animations are another thing entirely. Character movements are rigid and lifeless. Enemy dodge and death movements are constantly recycled, and melee attacks viewed in third person look like the character is dealing cards. It’s pretty typical to see bystanders and law enforcement glitch onto and even into stationary objects when the action is heavy. Thankfully, most of these issues are present in NPCs. I found my own character movement to be relatively consistent.
Added features like intimidation allow you to force civilians to the floor and out of the way. You’ll incur cleaner costs if civies are caught in the crossfire, so it’s best to keep their heads down. If you’re able to zip tie a civilian, or even a low level law enforcer, they’re considered a hostage. Hostages are key to getting captured crew members released so they can head back into the fray. You’re also able to buy special intel before heading into jobs. This information allows you to have a bit of an advantage in certain circumstances. If you get a bit of insider info before heading into a bank heist, you’ll know what employees to target to retrieve items like keycards that grant access to restricted areas. You can also purchase things like blueprints that give you a better feel for the environment.
Payday 2 is graphically sub-par as far as what’s expected in today’s games, but to be fair, it’s a budget priced downloadable title. Weapons have a good amount of detail, but the same can’t be said about the NPCs and the limited environments you’ll encounter. Bystanders are all cookie cutter models, and there isn’t much in the way of variety when it comes to law enforcement either. Occasional special enemies like a riot shield toting SWAT enforcer, heavily armored assault units, snipers, and taser wielding help spice up the visuals and difficulty. Banks, stores, nightclubs, and jewelry stores all have the same layout with variable safe and loot locations. However, Payday 2’s jobs range from 1-7 days in length. When you take longer jobs, you’ll visit additional locations that have considerably more depth.
Payday 2’s positives far outweigh the negatives. As long as you have some friends to play with you’ll thoroughly enjoy the experience. The dependable combat, variety of jobs, myriad of customization, and upgradeable skills add an heir of complexity that was absent from the original installment. You’ll feel like a badass loading duffel bags of cash into the back of your getaway van after a successful score. One final warning – play with friends, or you may literally hate this game.
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