Payday 2 is one of those rare cases in modern video games, where they require no deep or meaningful plot in order to prove it’s a worthwhile slice of entertainment. And why is it a rare case? Because the gameplay is truly solid. The original Payday took a simple idea, as well as a touch of inspiration from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, then it turned it in to something of sheer brilliance. Payday 2 excelled on everything that the original managed to achieve, and with the re-release making it’s debut on to the current generation of consoles with all previous additional content being included, there’s certainly a lot to look forward too.
Payday 2 has one single premise. Execute a grand mass of robberies and heists, in order to make your way up the ladder to the status of master criminal. These can range from anything to robbing a jewelry store or a more deadly scenarios such as a cracking the vault of a bank heist while fending off police, or waging war with mobsters over a meth lab. Where Payday 2 succeeds however, is not just in the variety of locations that’s on offer to perform grand theft. But in the amount of detail that goes in to the planning stages and the structure of the missions themselves.
" Execute a grand mass of robberies and heists, in order to make your way up the ladder to the status of master criminal. "
Nothing is or will ever be a simple break in and break out situation, making off with the cash without anybody knowing. It’s always going to be a crazy situation whether the player likes it or not. And they should, because that’s what makes the game so great. Presented before each and every mission players will be given a planning stage before entering the level.
This contains aspects of player customization and weapon loadouts as well as how they plan to execute the heist. This is where the game manages to immerse the player and it forces them to think carefully about their role and character class. Within the actual mission there will be certain objectives that must be undertaken before, during and after the mission. This is where the immersion factor plays a larger role and tricks the player in to thinking their in control. And if their not, well, they’ll learn to adjust.
Every mission feels like a heist gone wrong and that’s exactly how it’s supposed to feel, even when choosing the route of stealth. During a mission in which I was required to disassemble a bomb, while doing battle with the military forces that seeked to put an end to my demise, it didn’t become apparent to me as to just how much time I had sunk in to the mission until it actually ended.
"This contains aspects of player customization and weapon loadouts as well as how they plan to execute the heist."
It’s incredibly easy to lose track of time within the game, and since pressure and intensity are two things that play directly against the players mindset, it’s intimidating as it is entertaining. One minute I’m stealing paintings from an art gallery and the next, I’m lowering a hose in to a train wreck to secure the pressure of a bomb, so I can dismantle it in to multiple pieces and sell it to a contractor. Payday 2 knows how to take itself seriously while still making no sense whatsoever.
It’s genuine fun. Had the game been released in the 90s it would have been trading blows with Mortal Kombat and Grand Theft Auto, over which game influences the most bad behaviour in the teenage male demographic. Adding attention to detail outside of the missions is the design of the games actual menus. Everything holds the aesthetic of a blueprint or a map that the player will navigate through when assigning weapons, gadgets, or deciding where to plan their attack. It may be considered quite small to some, but it’s the fine attention to detail that goes a long way.
Since Payday 2 is at its best when being played online co-operatively, A.I. team mates are essentially useless outside of waving a gun. This means everything that requires an objective undertaking such as setting up a C4, picking a lock, or setting up a drill to crack a safe of a bank is all on the player. Going forward with the series, I would like to see a great deal of attention being placed on the A.I. team mates, as the simple commands that you’re able to instruct aren’t in anyway ideal nor beneficial for assisting in a heist.
"Since Payday 2 is at its best when being played online co-operatively, A.I. team mates are essentially useless outside of waving a gun."
While the single-player is without a doubt fun and engaging, it’s always a case of “I’m planning to steal $90,000 worth of jewelry, threaten the bystanders, and murder anyone who attempts to stop me. Oh yeah…these three idiots will be joining me.” In terms of gameplay, this is the only fault that players can expect from the game, but either way it’s still entertaining.
As it stands however, this is a HD remaster of Payday 2, which means the core gameplay remains the same. What’s new to this edition comes in the form of additional content that was formerly available to the PC. Where past HD remasters have only been given a visual overhaul with minor expansion packs barely worthy of the name, Payday 2: Crimewave Edition delivers on everything. With that being said, there’s nothing new here that PC players should be considering as this is strictly aimed for last-generation console players.
These new additions primarily consist of more heists, weapons, weapon modifications, masks, costumes, characters, and a skill tree. And while that may not sound like much on the surface, the breath of content that’s actually in the game could easily spawn in to its own standalone title. The game adds missions based on Dennaton Games’ Hotline Miami. Take a deep breath. And if that wasn’t enough, John Wick is also a playable character. Everything is better with Keanu Reeves.
"And if that wasn't enough, John Wick is also a playable character."
Where the game continues to standout as being something other than a High Definition heist isn’t just purely down to the amount of content though. It’s the way in which it has been changed in regards to mission structure. The pre-planning phase of the game which takes place before heading in to a mission, allows players to strategize and prepare themselves before hand, adding a new level of complexity to the overall gameplay.
This works well in practice and the fact that it’s added a new gameplay mechanic in the form of an update as opposed to doing so in a sequel, makes it all the more enjoyable. It’s the small iterations here that deserve some respect and it clearly demonstrates that the studio knows exactly what it’s doing with the game.
As said previously, characters now have a skill tree system. This means that the more you play the more you’ll earn. Literally. And not just in the way of cash. It gives players the ability to equip specialized perks, equipment, and character traits to their respectful class. As the game is heavily focused on co-operative play, gamers who take the game seriously will gain fulfillment in watching their character truly progress.
"This means that the more you play the more you'll earn."
Last on the list is the new contract systems that’s in place. Taking on missions set by crime-bosses and contractors adds a new level of dynamism to the game as it differs from the standard run of the mill heists. These contract missions have multiple stages to them, each with different objectives that can lead to random outcomes. When pulled off correctly it can feel rewarding, and it aids in further engaging the player in to its world.
Payday 2: Crimewave Edition is a vigorous, exciting, and heart-wrenching game. It delivers on everything that made the base version of the game so great to begin with, and it gives a compelling reason for its current-generation re-release. The only issue I had with the game was something that I hoped would be resolved, now that it’s on reasonably more powerful hardware. The frame rate.
A silky, smooth thirty frames-per-second. No, just no. Something has to be said over this Neverland fantasy of 1080p gaming for the current console generation. The fact that as journalists we’ve been inclined to bring it up in reviews and general news coverage so often, when it was barely mentioned in the generations prior means it is a big problem.
"A silky, smooth thirty frames-per-second. "
1080p isn’t compelling, it’s a compromise. Had the developers dropped the resolution to 900p or such, which would have had no meaningful effect on the visuals anyway, and then ramped the frame-rate up to sixty, the game would have felt much more responsive and much more enjoyable. Payday 2 is a good looking game, but it isn’t at all graphically demanding.
It’s not necessarily a question of “Why is it running at thirty?” It’s more a question of “How is not running at sixty?” Payday has always felt like a PC game that console players where just lucky enough to receive. But the fact that it’s running at thirty as opposed to sixty is fairly disappointing.
It’s a worthy step-up from it’s last-gen iteration and I see no reason other than the obvious, to not recommend it to fans of the series. New heists, new mechanics, and new methods of character progression, Payday 2: Crimewave Edition is ludicrous enjoyment.
This game was reviewed on the Xbox One.
Enough content to keep you pleased for months.
A.I. is terrible. Sixty is better than thirty.
Payday 2: Crimewave Edition is fully loaded. New gameplay mechanics, solid controls, and John Wick.
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