Payday 2 Review

16 Aug 2013  by   Tim McDonald
Game Details
Developer: Overkill Software
Publisher: 505 Games
Reviewed on: PC
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Day 1: The Jewellery Store

I figured I’d be pretty good at this heisting stuff. I mean, hell, I’ve finished every level in Monaco – even the super hard ones – and this is basically the same, right? You just have to get into a place and take things that other people don’t want you to take. But here, in Payday 2, I’ve got a gun. That’s got to make things easier.

And a jewellery store? Pfft. In Monaco, I had to rob several jewellery stores, at the same time. And they had automated guns rigged up to rotating lasers.

Payday 2 - 02

Seriously, everything they’ve got is just RIGHT THERE behind glass. I mean, open invitation, or what?

This one, conversely, could only have been more open if they’d just left everything out in the street with a big sign saying “FREE JEWELLERY”. There were a few windows around the back that we could smash open for a more covert entrance, a couple of security guards wandering the premises, and some civvies milling around the display cases in the store’s shopfloor. But hey, this is an easy opportunity for a smash and grab. I put on my terrifying clown mask, pull out my gun, stroll through the front door, and shout EVERYBODY BE COOL THIS IS A ROBBERY because Pulp Fiction references are totally current.

Several civilians stare at me for a moment, and then a security guard shoots me in the face. My AI companions, rather than helping, are standing across the street, arms folded, nonchalantly watching me.

So fine. I’m new at this, and this is a test. I get it. I shoot the security guard until he falls over, and then decide I’d better intimidate the rest of the civilians by making an example of one of them. I stroll over to one – who’s still staring at me, hands raised – put the gun to his head, and fire.

Payday 2 - 01

“Why did they have to quote Pulp Fiction? Now I’m going to die thinking about how uncomfortable that foot massage discussion was.”

CIVILIAN KILLED! DEDUCTING $2,000 IN CLEANER COSTS appears on the screen.

Okay, fine. I can’t kill civilians. I order them to lie down on the ground, and make myself busy smashing open cases and stuffing jewellery into my pockets. Some bits are too large and have to be hauled into a bag and dumped in the back of our escape van, which takes time. Rather then assist in this labour, my “companions” are still sat next to the parking lot. One’s having a cigarette.

Of course, they didn’t remain like this forever – it wasn’t long before they decided to get off their asses and help. Specifically, they decided to assist when a civilian called the police because of the noise of gunshots. In other words, they assisted after our escape van had already scarpered, leaving me short of the three required bags of loot. Still, small mercies.

Two police cars rolled up in front of the store, and the occupants of both cars were swiftly executed with pistol fire… which doesn’t fine me “cleaner costs”? What the hell? I’m allowed to shoot cops, but not civilians?

Payday 2 - 14

This isn’t THE jewellery store, but it is taken from within A jewellery store.

Anyway, rather than serving as a warning, this apparently just infuriates the police because it’s not long before lots more cops arrive. And SWAT team members. And snipers. They’re also not too keen on protecting the civilians, on the basis that any civvies that aren’t nailed down (or, well, tied up) are more than happy to stand up and run around in the middle of the ensuing gunfight, and the cops are more than happy to keep firing past them. I guess they don’t get fined for shooting civilians.

I’m shooting my 30th policeman in the head when our escape van shows up again about six meters down the street from where it started, and it’s a quick jaunt to just lob the last bag in the back and then drive off. Job well done! That’s got to be a few hundred thousand dollars worth of cash, too.

… Bain, what do you mean you’re putting 95% of it in my offshore account and giving me about $8,000 as spending money? What are you, my mum?

Day 4: The Bank Job

I’ve finally done enough low-end jobs that Bain has given me sufficient pocket money to buy a couple of new guns – an AK-47 for the big shootouts, and a powerful Crosskill pistol for looking really cool. I’ve also decided to spread my earned skill points across each of the four trees – Mastermind, Enforcer, Technician, and Ghost. Now I’m toting an ammo bag to replenish my crew’s ammo reserves mid-heist, because a couple of hundred rounds for each gun disappears very quickly when you’ve attracted the attention of what can only be the entire state’s police force. Also, I get more money when I steal things now. So that’s neat.

Payday 2 - 04

This look far better than the clown mask, but it costs more than my guns.

With these guns, I was finally feeling badass enough to take on the heist every aspiring criminal dreams of: the bank job. Normally they’re probably dreaming of hitting a big bank rather than a street corner one, but shut up. Everyone starts somewhere. Anyway: our task was to grab a thermal drill someone left for us in the parking lot, break in, drill the vault, and make off with the cash.

Better still, I’d managed to attract an accomplice with an actual, real-life brain (probably) in occasional IncGamers Plays-er Adam Gell. And we had a plan, because I’d spent the rest of my cash on assets for the mission to give us a bit more intel. I could’ve bought a much cooler-looking mask instead, but $50,000 for customisation? Piss off.

This was the plan: I’d sneak around and get the drill while he picked the lock on a side door. I’d then check around the front and try to spot the manager through the windows, after which he’d sneak his way over to wherever the manager was, tie him up at an opportune moment, take his keycard, and use that to open the security door. We’d take out the security guard so that nobody was watching the cameras, and set up the drill by the vault. If anyone heard the noise, we’d just force them to the ground and make sure nobody called the cops.

Payday 2 - 13

Shotguns are a fantastic way of dealing with SWAT teams.

This is what happened: I went to get the drill, turned a corner into the bank’s parking lot, and walked into a security guard who noticed the AK-47 slung across my bulletproof vest, and then promptly handcuffed me and phoned the police.

From there, all hell broke loose. Adam and the AI companions came around the corner to free me, shooting the guard in the process. The gunshot spooked all of the civilians who promptly started running around like startled rabbits. We ran inside, set the drill up on the vault, and waited for the cops to show up.

Then the drill jammed, so I went to fix it while Adam and the bots shot at the first wave of cops. Once it was running again I took up my station at a corner near the drill, loosed a few rounds at a SWAT team approaching through the side door, and then went to fix the drill again.

Payday 2 - 07

The guy on the bench to the left was determined not to let this heist/hostage situation ruin his lunch break. He didn’t move ONCE.

Police snipers took up positions in the buildings outside. A helicopter started dropping off heavily-armoured cops on the roof. Some guy with a riot shield barged through the front door. Gas was pushed out through the vents. The drill broke about 17 more times in between each of these events.

Eventually, though – after almost all of us were knocked down and rescued at least once – we made it. With only two stacks of cash, because the bots refuse to carry anything and we couldn’t make a return trip from the escape van because the inside of the vault looked like Police Brutality Convention 2013.

Day 18: The Bank Job (Overkill difficulty)

Look, can we just agree that trying something that hard was a bad idea, and then never talk about it again?

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