Reviews by hixxsafc

74

Fun, pure co-op game but seemingly unfinished

hixxsafc | Aug. 19, 2013 | Review of Payday 2

I never played the original but decided to give this a go as a few friends had been enjoying the beta so I wanted to join in. When you start out the game really just lets you find your own way and you will take an hour or three to get to grips with the game. Your first port of call will be the fairly horrible mission select screen (aka Crime.net) which gives a random selection of missions and difficulties (of which there are 4: normal, hard, very hard and overkill; rewards of XP and cash are multiplied depending on which you select) scattered across a map of a city. If you are playing solely with friends you can pull up a filter that will hide lobbies that are occupied but then you are still hoping the game the game shows the map and difficulty you want to play. There will be times where you are waiting over 10 minutes to get the level you want. There are also Pro Jobs which are one-shot attempts at a level which can make the Crime.net interface even more tedious.

Once you finally get into a game, hopefully with a full squad of 4 friends or randoms as the teammate AI is horrendous, you will either be in casing mode where you can move around without causing too much suspicion or, in a few missions, you will be masked up and won't be able to survey the area. You can usually play a mission stealthily but not always and your squad and their skill trees will help decide how you plan out your heists or assaults. Are you going to rush in to the Jewelry Store, stick down some electronic jammers and be back to the getaway van before the police are called or are you going to storm a bank and fortify it while you drill into the vault? Or maybe the other way round, silently thin the guard ranks while finding the key card to render the cameras moot so you can storm the bank without raising the alarm and thus minimal bloodshed? Up to you, though both approaches have their bonuses and drawbacks.

The aim of the game is of course to get as much loot as possible before you are overwhelmed by hordes of police once you are spotted. The amount of loot you get dictates your spending cash which can buy you weapons, contribute to skill ups and new masks. The mission difficulty seems to add a multiplier to the cash reward and XP reward and in fairly typical fashion, weapon unlocks, skill points and customization items such as masks are tied to your level of which there are 100. At the end of each mission you also get to select a card which will give you a random reward such as more cash, a weapon mod or a mask template or skin etc.

The skill trees are broken up in to 4 classes: Mastermind, Enforcer, Technician and Ghost. Masterminds come with a medic bag and are more about getting civilians and enemies to... co-operate, shall we say. Enforcers are as you'd expect: all about taking damage, dishing it out and getting access to ammo bags and a saw which will let you get into ATMs and deposit boxes much quicker at the expense of being very loud. Technicians bring the boom with tripmines and sentry guns while being more adept with tools such as the drill. Ghost is the stealth class, allowing access to a jammer and makes you more agile as you move down the tree and faster lockpicking. You can max out two and a half trees I believe when you have hit level 100. A good squad will have one of each archetype.

The gameplay itself is good fun - the shooting very solid, though some enemies are real bullet sponges. The guys in bomb suits and shotguns are a definite 'holy crap, run away' moment and the game isn't afraid to abuse them on higher difficulties. A typical mission will have you spend a few minutes casing, snuffing any guards you can silently before moving in and doing what you can before the police are alerted. You'll face fodder early responce before SWAT storms in and assaults you in moments reminiscent of Left 4 Dead hordes attacking you, only with guns, which can be intense. You will pack your loot while fending them off, waiting for the van to arrive and the assault to end before making your way, loot in hand, to the van. Some missions will be spread over 3 or so days and involve missions where your only objective is to survive for a certain amount of time, or to make a trade with a gang for information.

There is a fair amount of variety to the missions but not enough to support huge play times other co-op PC shooters seem to achieve. You have 6 or 7 levels with 2 or 3 variations on them, sometimes different enough for it to feel fresh, others not so much. This is where the short fall of the game is, there isn't a great deal of content. After 5 or 6 hours you will feel like you've seen it all and will be looking at simply becoming efficient rather than what comes next.

Performance wise the game is largely fine though some levels seem to have my PC really struggling for no apparent reason - the meth lab in Rats will drop to sub-30 frame rates and I can't see any reason why and with Rats being a rather intense mission it can become frustrating.

The devs have promised free - and paid - in the future and the longevity of the game will live and die on how they handle that. With that in mind, it's a good base but definitely needs building on.