Payday 2 Review16 Aug 2013  by
Day 32: Framing Frames (Part 1)
Framing Frames is a multi-day job, insofar as you have multiple consecutive missions and the actions in one have an impact on what happens in the next. In Framing Frames, we’re supposed to steal paintings from an art gallery, install cameras in them, sell them off to a dodgy politician via a fixer, and then use those cameras to frame him and steal all the gold in his vault. For the first part, we needed to break into the art gallery and steal at least four of these paintings – so at least two trips to the escape van, each.
We took our time. We scouted around, checking for all entrances on the ground level and then looking through the skylights to spot the guard patrols. We noted the location of the cameras, and we decided we’d take different paths in; I’d take the side entrance that led through a bathroom into one of the gallery wings, and he would keep an eye on things from above and either sneak in through the roof, or go past the lone guard at the front entrance.
Then he said “Should I take out the cameras?” I responded in the negative. “No, because the camera operator will know it’s broken and call the cops, or one of the guards will spot the broken camera and call the cops. We can disable them temporarily with a jammer, but you should probably just try to avoid them.”
“Well, I just shot one.”
ALARM TRIPPED: POLICE DETECTED SUSPICIOUS ACTIVITY
Day 32: Framing Frames (Part 1.5)
We got out of the art gallery alive and mostly intact, after SWAT teams actually blasted down the walls to get to us. Unfortunately, this led to an unforeseen complication: the SWAT teams followed us, shot out the car tyres, and we had to hold them off in a park while Bain arranged a new escape vehicle. It’s worth noting that this wouldn’t have happened if we got out faster, or simply did it stealthily.
Remind me never to take Adam with me on a job after this.
Day 34: Framing Frames (Part 3)
So, after our hand-off of the paintings didn’t exactly go… positively… we finally found ourselves on top of the corrupt politician’s penthouse apartment. We had a computer to access the cameras installed in the paintings, and some idea of… oh, look: this one went horribly tits up too. In fact, it went horribly tits up repeatedly. About 15 times. And then Peter Parrish joined us and it went horribly tits up again. Within about 12 seconds of walking into the apartment at least one of us would be spotted and the plan would suddenly changed to breaking into his computer and leaking information about his arms deals to the media.
Unfortunately, this politician apparently has a country’s worth of SWAT members living in his apartment, because within 10 seconds of the alarm being raised those complete bastards started breaking through the windows and rappelling down from the skylights and shutting off the power, forcing us to go and restart it.
We gave up. Sorry, Mr. Other Politican, but this particular politician is remaining unframed for now.
Day 60: Framing Frames (Part 3)
I did it. I bloody did it. It took me about 30 attempts and oh-so-many hours, but I did it.
My Crosskill has a silencer. I’ve levelled up the Ghost tree enough that I can move bodies. I’m harder to detect. I’ve got the hang of how stealth works. I broke into the politician’s apartment, stealthed my way through the level avoiding all guards and cameras – very occasionally knocking one out and stashing his body on the roof – and found all the electronic gadgets I had to find. I took them to our laptop on the roof, and then retrieved the eight huge sacks of cocaine that we had to stash in his vault to complete the frame.
Eight trips from the roof down to the vault, and back. Only bots as allies, so they were of no use. Eight trips, avoiding all guards and cameras each time, or the mission would suddenly switch over to hacking the computer and I’d be crushed to death by sheer weight of police officers again.
At this point, the mission was complete and I could leave, but considering his vault was said to contain a huge amount of gold, there was no way I was leaving without a little bonus cash – particularly because I’m pretty damn sure that when CrimeNet says they’re “putting the money in my offshore account” they really mean “going on holiday with my money.” So I found the computer that opens the vault door, and… oh, fuck off.
Lasers wired to alarms block the vault door. One person has to trigger the computer to disable them for a few seconds while another sneaks in and steals some gold, and then the computer operator disables the lasers again. You can’t do it with bots. You need two people.
30 attempts. 30 attempts. I actually feel dead inside.
Payday 2 expands on everything that the first game promised and only delivered in a slightly shonky way, and Payday 2 does it well. The shooting has real feeling to it and is actually enjoyable. Missions are varied in terms of your goals, the way prior mission success impacts the multi-day missions, and the sheer randomisation of key elements – the vault won’t be in the same place each time. The keycard won’t be in the same place. Guards and cameras will be set up differently. Etc. A lot of the missions boil down to “defend this location until the computer is hacked/the drill gets through the lock, and then cart X number of items to the escape point” but there are plenty of others, and there’s usually enough variety in mission setup that they don’t feel particularly samey.
Payday 2 is a game about trying to commit the perfect heist, and then – most likely – watching it all go horribly wrong, and trying to salvage it while fending off improbable numbers of policemen. The customisation system still needs a bit of work in terms of the sheer money required to actually buy new items, but as you progress down the trees you start getting access to some truly game-changing abilities. I’ve complained about it regularly throughout the “diary”, but that tended to be for humour or mild, moment-to-moment frustration; I wouldn’t have played it nearly as much as I did if I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I did.
It’s a little buggy and a little rough in places, and the bots are sufficiently rubbish that I can’t really recommend it if you’re a solo player, but if you can assemble a small crew of your own or aren’t intimidated by playing with randoms on the internet, you’ll have a blast. This is pretty much what the first game should’ve been: a tight, enjoyable shooter with a unique setting and some optional stealth.