We want to hurt no one! We’re here for the bank’s money, not your money. Your money is insured by the federal government, you’re not gonna lose a dime! Think of your families, don’t risk your life. Don’t try and be a hero! McCauley’s famous lines from Heat perfectly sum up the attitude of a current favorite of mine: Payday 2. A brilliant sequel to Payday: The Heist, this game continues the tradition of letting you live out all your bank robbing fantasies while improving on the original core gameplay. Keep the hostages safe, get the loot, and escape before the fuzz takes your crew out. It’s cops and robbers for grown-ups.
It isn’t all just big guns and bank robbing though. The heists are much more varied this time around including some more memorable ones like cooking Meth on the fly, infiltrating FBI headquarters, and nabbing paintings only to get them installed in a senator’s apartment for a frame job. Many heists allow you to go in guns blazing or take the more subtle approach. In fact, most heists go a lot smoother if you can avoid security cameras and quietly dispose of guards without anyone getting wise to those safe-cracking hands. Of course, there is always that psycho you are working with who starts shooting up the place and that’s usually where the fun comes in: improvisation. Aside from your teammate going crazy, the game has dynamic gameplay that will switch up guard patrol routes, vault locations, and randomizing loot to ensure that no heist is the same as the last time you played. Another twist on the gameplay is that if the contract goes down messy while getting your objective there may be a subsequent randomized police chase and assault you must survive before you can get that payday.
One of the major improvements from the first game is the fleshing out of the skill trees. There are four classes: Mastermind (Crowd Control), Enforcer (Heavy Hitter), Technician (Explosives/Gadgets), and Ghost (Stealth). The first 50 character levels fly by, allowing you to fully spec out the class skill tree that suits your play style and then supplement those skills with the remaining levels. However, you could always go for a mix of all four if you prefer. Prior to the heist, you and your goons will plan out what specific roles each player will have during the contract. Just don’t forget to bring the C4.
Another facet of the game’s deep customization system is your equipment. There are TONS of weapon modifications such as scopes, suppressors, and foregrips. Usually installing them represents a trade-off that plays to the strengths of the class you have invested in. Sure you can put that silencer on the Crosskill, but your intimidation and damage output will be reduced. The most unique part of your equipment will be your mask. You will unlock various mask templates in your heisting career and you can customize each with a material, color, and pattern to create your very own persona.
The game’s on currently sale to celebrate new DLC being released so it’s a great time to jump (back) in. The new heists are a series of armored car takedowns leading to a train heist. The most fantastic part is buying the DLC is not necessary for play. So long as someone is hosting it, you can jump right in even without purchasing it for yourself.
So the game is great, but I do have a few qualms. Firstly, if at any time during multiple-day heists you lose connection, you are dropped back to the lobby and miss out on the payday money and experience which is no fun. The payday rewards themselves are great, but there are so many for gun modifications, masks colors/materials, money, and experience bonuses you will rarely get something really exciting. There is always the option to gamble your off-shore cash (where the majority of your earnings go to), but the costs are so high and odds so low you are better off spending that cash elsewhere. There is a safe room hideout, but it’s details suggest it was an afterthought. Seems like it would be another great money sink for customization but the current incarnation simply lets you test out equipped weapons and practice breaching barriers.
That being said, there is nothing that beats a big score on a 3 day heist where everything comes together and you make it out by the skin of your nose. The game is accessible enough for novices and the learning curve is steep enough to keep you interested and coming back for more. The game’s a steal too, you can get it for no more than $30 on Steam or your console of choice. Time to suit up, keep the civvies down, and do what you do best: take down scores.
Mike Kane is a guest contributor to GeekCLE. He is a lifelong Clevelander with a studied history and enthusiasm for gaming, comics, and technology.
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