Payday: The Heist was one of the first titles of its kind. Sure the idea of a co-op shooter wasn’t that new at the time, but the way Overkill Software did it was. Four criminals have to work together to complete a heist. The better the team-work, the smoother the heist would run and the better the score at the end. Meanwhile, if a team couldn’t get their act together, chances are they wouldn’t last five minutes. It was an uneasy balance that made and broke many friendships. Honestly, it’s no surprise that Overkill decided to make a sequel.
Bigger, bolder, and ready to take on the world again, the guys at Overkill are pulling out all the stops with Payday 2. The promise is simple. Take everything that made the first game good and cut the crap that made the first game terrible. I mean, it can’t get much simpler than that, right?
More Jobs - I’d like to bring up the missions selection as the first game had 9 before they stopped supporting it. Granted, it was a $20 game, but the 9 missions quickly became repeated grinds to get more experience. Payday 2 has quite a few more. Now, when I say quite a few, I mean it. There are roughly 6 missions available to players immediately, with dozens more unlocked as the player levels. Additionally, much like the first Payday, many of the missions are unique to themselves, with only a few being redos of older levels.
Criminally Simple Controls - After playing Ride to Hell: Retribution, I really have to acknowledge it when any game has decent controls. Overkill has managed to not let an elliptic monkey design the control scheme for Payday 2, and that’s all I could ask of them. The controls are simple and familiar to anyone who hasn’t spent the last year hiding under a rock. You move with the stick, jump with a button and the trigger button kills things.
Diversity - Payday: The Heist lacked a real diversity in the classes. You more or less figured out which gun you wanted, and picked the corresponding class. Payday 2, on the other hand, is a bit more diverse. If you want to be a tank, get ready to not be good at anything other than taking bullets while your team runs around like headless chickens. Meanwhile, if you want to be the stealth expert, you do really well until the dummy who thought a .44 magnum could be used to silently kill a guard. It’s a good amount of diversity that I thoroughly enjoy.
Fun Heists - I mentioned in my first point that there were more missions to be had, but quantity doesn’t mean much if the quality isn’t there. Fortunately, Payday 2 has a good bit of variety, and all the heists are good. Everything from a 3-day heist that just went to piss because you blew up a meth lab to simple heists where you rob a jewelry store are included in Payday 2. Yes, some of them suck like the jewelry store heist, but at least the majority of missions are good.
WHAT GOOD IS A DRILL IF IT DOESN'T DRILL?
Give Us More - The cast from the original Payday is back, but without company. Bain, Chains, Dallas, Hoxton, and Wolf are all back, but I’d like to see more playable characters. I get that the crew is supposed to be a tight-knit organization, but I don’t exactly enjoy playing Wolf or Chains. Chains reminds me too much of the guys I used to have to bunk with in the Air Force and I feel like Wolf is just too much of the silent Mary Sue characters that nerds seem to obsess over more than their favorite waifu. Sure it’s not a big thing, but I’d really like to not go into a room and immediately see Dallas and Hoxton taken.
Random AI - The AI in Payday isn’t dumb, it’s completely random. I’ve had situations where an assault wave literally bottlenecked themselves inside an entire room, ceasing to advance or spawn more cops. On the same note, I’ve had enemies randomly spawn behind me at point blank with a shotgun, or magically hit me from 300 feet away with a Glock. There’s no method to the madness.
Impossible Alone - Payday 2 is highlighted as a multiplayer game for good reason. AI companions are incapable of picking up loot, and most of the time sits around absorbing more bullets than thought humanly possible. On top of that, unlike in Payday: The Heist where missions were simply get from point to point to continue, Payday 2 actually has you haul your loot around. Simply put, get a group of friends and play together for more fun and less frustration.
Payday 2 is now, and probably will be, the best co-op title of the year. It has some shortcomings and it’s missing some details that I’d prefer it had, but overall it’s a huge improvement from the first title. It shows that developers can realize their mistakes and move on. The dozens of heists means that there’s always a round the whole group can enjoy. Honestly, if you and your friends have been looking for a co-op experience, Payday 2 is it.
This review was based on the PS3 version of the game with a review code provided by the publisher.*