We’ve had a preview, now we give you the full Payday 2 Review. After a few days of intense testing with an international gang of armed criminals (you know who you are), we’ve been able to put the game through its paces and be able to give you the inside man info. If you are after the basic info, I recommend checking out our preview of Payday 2 first.

Payday 2 Review

As a co-op game, Payday 2 is almost unlike any other. It has the wonderful tactical and reliant ways of Left 4 Dead, combined with the deeper intricacies you might associate with Splinter Cell, and an RPG style skill tree that sounds entirely out of place. Once you get into the game, the skill tree becomes more than an essential element, giving you extra abilities, items and a tactical advantage. Getting together with 3 other gamers to take on a heist, utilising your abilities and pulling together sets it apart and very much puts it in a niche, one that needed filling since no decent co-op has come out since L4D 2. At the time of writing this, Payday 2 has been a Steam top seller for a week and has already turned a profit for its developers, such is the anticipation around a high quality co-op.

The co-op element of the game works extremely well. You really need to be in sync and in constant contact with your crew in order to execute a heist successfully. If you are robbing the jewellery story, you need to know who is where and doing what and when in order to avoid bringing down the blue thunder. Grab 3 people and either do them stealthily (arguably the right way), or shoot the place to hell and try and get out alive. But really, after shelling out £25, do you need to be doing these online with 3 other people, can you just sit in silence and get on with it on your own from time to time?

Special units include shields, bulldozers, tazers and snipers

There is the option of playing Payday 2 alone, and that comes down, mostly, to your skill tree. There are 4 classes: Mastermind, Enforcer, Technician and Ghost. The Mastermind is the control freak, he shouts at and controls the civilians, he does a lot of gunning, he helps the team through it all and revives them if they’re down. The Enforcer is your pack horse and heavy weapon guy, he’ll be able to drop ammo, fire loads and eventually beat people to death with his bare hands. Your Technician is better with safes and drills (ah drills, I’ll get to those shortly), he can set up trip mines and help the team through the more tricky parts of long operations. The Ghost is the guy who can, effectively, go it alone, slipping in, jamming signals, bagging and hiding bodies and slipping out with the loot. Is any one better than the other? No. Is it entirely balances as yet? Potentially not quite. We found you probably should specialise in 1 class, with bits of Ghost thrown in for good measure. So, if you aren’t the ghost, what about going it alone?

When we first met the developers of Payday 2 back in January, the game was coming along nicely, although still in its infancy. They said, point blank, there was no plan for AI team mates. However, as the game grew, it became obvious that they would them. Sadly, this is one of its greatest flaws (which can still be patched). The AI in Payday 2 are clueless bots that wander around pointlessly, and when it comes down to it, will shoot and heal. Will they set drills for safes or doors? No. Will they pick up bags? No. Do they carry assets? No. Will they interact with anything at all other than their gun or you when you’re down? No. We utterly, utterly detest the team AI and feel grossly let down. If anything, it feels like a patronising hint that you should be playing with friends and should have the internet: what are you, an anti-social luddite hermit? Payday 2, the game that makes you peer pressure your friends into robbing banks online with you (which is actually rather fun anyway)!

Another unfortunately criticism is that, for its innovation, Payday 2 has a horrific menu system. Sure, their crimenet feature is interesting, but it is also rather underdeveloped to the point of annoyance. The map menu, with jobs that exist for 30 seconds before disappearing, and new ones appear, is segregated into different areas of town, but for no discernable reason – are there different gangs in areas, like GTA? No. Scenery differences? No. Similarly, the Safe House is an under developed part of the Payday 2. You are prompted to go through here as a tutorial, but you can revisit any time. It is a lovely developed area, but serves absolutely no function afterwards other than some of these nice screenshots I’ve taken. Whilst that is a bit disappointing, there are a large number of heists this time, some 1 – 3 days that we’ve seen (maybe more to come?). Of particular note is that Payday 2, the bank robbing game, actually only has one bank map (although numerous different types of heists on the one map). Still, there are lots of others to keep you busy. They aren’t all easy either and the payoffs don’t feel particularly equal. Ultimately, people will sit and wait for the best ratios.

That could take some time though, and hopefully gamers will be better spirited and take the Payday 2 challenges properly. With the increased number of heists and character development now having meaning in Payday 2, Overkill have made significant headway at improving the games playable life, and having announced DLC is already on the way, you can be sure people will continually be playing this game. Aside from that, other customisable and personalised touches should ensure you keep interest. Guns cost a lot of money, and the modifications cost even more. A Deagle will set you back over $450,000 (which is about 10 successful, high paying heists), and modifications costs a ridiculous sum. Got to play lots to pay lots! These modifications only become available if you get them by chance from the three card draw at the end of a successful heist, so you could wait forever to get the one you want, with many being particularly rare. The same can be said for masks.

Potential items from the card pickup

Payday: The Heist had a good number of masks. Now, with the drop rates, patterns and colours, you will never get all of them. There are 15,000,000 potential combinations in Payday 2. You can quite easily be unique! The very rare ones are marked out in purple as INFAMOUS. This is a pretty cool feature and since you are quite often staring at your mask in the lobby or with others, it makes a difference. When we played people were often commenting about each others’ masks. Whilst masks will almost always be different, the one thing you can count on being the same is that, when you are still lower levels, your drills will fail. Time and again. Every heist. It becomes monotonous! Fortunately the rest of the gameplay is varied enough to see you through.

Playing Payday 2 is fun and it is a ridiculously great upgrade on Payday: The Heist. There is a lot to do, and so many different ways to do it depending on your set up and your team. There are hours and hours of gameplay to be had with friends and randoms, building your character’s reputation, skills, masks and weaponry, and no doubt it’ll continue to be a big success with extra DLC in the future. These features make it pretty darned good. Having said that, there are some woefully underdeveloped elements and some really small, yet annoying, errors holding it back from greatness: the safehouse and the crimenet menu being the two biggest. Others include an imbalanced economy, some awful clipping (walking through things and people is almost laughable), and the odd spelling error too. Our review copy, as did all the others, suffer from numerous crashes resulting in lost experience. Lets hope a day 0 patch fixes this and some of the other little bits and bobs.

If we gave this game a rating now, it would be 7 / 10. If it is patched and some of these things are fixed, it can make that ground back up easily. You can get it from Steam easily here… Oh, and want to try heisting with us? Give us a tweet and we’ll give it a go!

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