Payday 2 is the upcoming successor to the relatively successful Payday: The Heist from Overkill Software. As a heist simulator players will be subjected to multiple criminal endeavours involving robbing jewellery stores, department stores and even banks as they become more accomplished throughout the experience. Payday 2 adopts an RPG style upgrade system involving a skill tree which branches through four different categories of skills.
This allows the players to specialise in, say, the ‘Enforcer’ branch meaning they gradually become a walking Terminator or follow the path of the ‘Ghost’ and pull off stealthy escapes. They could even spread out across all four skill sets of Enforcer, Ghost, Technician and Mastermind and personalise their own skills to match the requirements of the mission.
Not only does Payday include unlockable skills through points and cash earned in missions but also a plethora of equipment to aid the process of pulling off the greatest of heists. Equipment includes the standard fare of primary and secondary weapons, multiple body armours but also spreads through to weapon attachments and items to help crack safes.
In order to be able to purchase and equip these tantalising upgrades however the players need to slog through various low end missions requiring less skill to ‘farm’ cash and level up through the in-game system much like you’d do in an RPG.
It’s a rewarding system that allows progression to be made naturally the more you play but also means you need to choose carefully on what to spend your hard earned (stolen) money on. The more you play and the more money you collect, the bigger and more skilled your character becomes allowing you to pull off more dangerous and rewarding heists. Just be prepared to endure in initial grind in order to start upgrading your skills and equipment.
One minute you’re throwing diamonds into a duffel bag in a jewellery store and bolting to your escape van. The next you’re charging through a club packed with SWAT teams and cracking the high end safe in the manager’s office. It’s pretty exciting, especially when the clock is ticking and the health is dwindling.
The police AI are very competent and work in small to large teams to flank the players and often corner them into submission. They often deploy smoke and stun grenades leaving you scrambling for the nearest exit or cover spot whilst they pour in from the corners.
There were instances when the enemy AI wouldn’t detect being hit or glitch through a certain object however the game is in beta stages and Overkill have plenty of time to fix these bugs before release. Visually the game looks good with great lighting and level design where certain escape routes are often changed to provide extra challenge to players.
The players access the missions through the Crime.net interface where we’re given a bird’s eye view of the city and various locations in which contracts take place. Each contract has a difficult level and a pay off grade relating to that. They also come with some fun live-action briefing style videos to introduce who the contract is for and the players involved in the heist. It’s a neat addition that injects some personality into a game that could easily tip into the ‘generic team shooter’ category.
Playing with friends over coop is far more rewarding than playing with the AI as you’re able to communicate, plan and coordinate your heist including swapping your inventories around to suit the needs of the team. It’s a much more diverse and involving experience playing with other people rather than faceless bots.
Overall, Payday 2 is shaping up to be a fun and in depth multiplayer experience providing the odd hiccup is ironed out for release.
Payday 2 is out for release on Steam on August 16th followed by the digital and physical copies for Xbox 360 and Playstation 3.