Payday 2 is one of those games that I was pretty hesitant about reviewing when it’s release date rolled around back in early August. I played a good amount of the beta and was a little off-put with the final release build when it ended up being pretty much the same thing with a slight content update; so naturally I decided to give Overkill the benefit of the doubt and release a review down the road instead of right at release so I could see what they did with it.
Today, October 25th, saw the release of a new content update for the game that included the release of a new heist, new masks, as well as new materials and patterns for the customization of your masks, along with all of that they also tweaked some things relating to existing heists, animations, and sound stuff like voice acting and weapon sounds. I don’t know about you guys, but free updates are something I can get with.
Better the second time around.
I’m not going to insult anyones intelligence by pointing out the fact that it’s the sequel to Payday: the Heist (it totally is.) but I will point out that it’s definitely one of those games that get’s better with friends. The good news is that it’s not like Operation Raccoon City in that the fun with friends translates into “Boy, I can’t believe how bad this game is, come glitch out in the corner with me.” but more into that moment of genuine tension where you find out your friend didn’t bring any medkits and you’re getting your face smashed in, then you realize that you’ve been playing for 9 hours and it’s 3 A.M.
The big deal going from Payday: the Heist to Payday 2 is that everything just feels better, the guns have more oomf, the maps feel more atmospheric, there’s more options that you have when it comes to actually accomplishing the heists (Stealth heists? Coolest thing ever.), it’s receiving regular updates from Overkill that aren’t entirely pointless, and it’s just overwhelmingly better than it’s predecessor in every way. If Payday: the Heist managed to scratch that robbery itch you had, then Payday 2 wants to give you a back massage.
Payday 2’s missions bounce back and forth between being really off the wall and interesting and being pretty dull and straightforward. Anywhere from robbing the safe at a kwik-e-mart for a few hundred dollars to cooking duffle-bag loads of meth and escaping with it in a rain of police helicopters and stolen propane tanks.
It’s like Heat, but with more mic spamming.
Co-Op is quite clearly Payday 2’s bag, but it’s not quite as dependant on it as something like Left 4 Dead. The game is playable solo, though you’ll either be really underpowered, or you’ll be babysitting 3 half competent AI partners. Thankfully you don’t have to rely as much on your team-mates for basic things like in Payday 2’s zombie filled cousin and can take care of yourself with the proper skillpoints if you so desire.
Non-pointless character progression.
Character progression feels like it’s in so many games these days that it’s almost pointless to bring up, but I don’t find Payday 2’s skill and money system contrived and tacked on like other games in the past.The skill trees aren’t incredibly overpowered so you can pick and choose things that you enjoy and are helpful for the specific way you play instead of the baseline abilities that people online will make fun of you if you don’t choose the correct build.
Money is the big part of the game about robbing people; Who would have known?
Saving up money in Payday 2 can be hell if you don’t take risks, and unfortunately the whole risk-reward scenario of possibly messing up that stealthy museum heist you’ve been working on really doesn’t have much weight when you can restart the whole mission at any moment with no consequence on your final reward. That aside, I never really reached a point where I had too much money; but I was also really into the mask customization with materials, masks, and patterns that you get from finishing heists but cost a virtual arm and a leg to actually do anything with.
The story in Payday 2 isn’t really the focus of anything, the game itself is all about the experience of completing the heists themselves loosely tied together with a bunch of characters that seem like they could probably have part time jobs as side characters in Grand Theft Auto telling you that they want money. It’s simple, but it’s a little disappointing for the person that likes to have some sort of justification for pistol whipping old ladies and stealing their purses.
Flawlessly Average visual design.
The visuals in Payday 2 are passable, it’s nothing special. The game looks good as long as you don’t stare into the uncanny valley’d faces of the creepy citizens you’re scaring with your gun. The game really shines when it comes to the soundtrack, It’s ace; and it’s one of the few game soundtracks that I actually listen to outside of the game along with Hotline Miami and Yoshi’s Story (don’t judge me.) The menus are obnoxious and uninformative at the best of times, and a bunch of squares that you click on hoping you don’t leave your group on accident at the worst. Overkill has been putting their foot forward in fixing some of the issues that people are having with the interface, so for that I can settle.
Should you get Payday 2? Overkill did under-deliver on the features and polish they were promising when the game launched back in August, but things have been looking up more and more as time goes by. With promises of more characters to pick from, more weapons, and even more heists coming down the road in free updates; I’m satisfied with the work that they’ve done. The game isn’t flawless, and it’s definitely got it’s hitches and janky spots when it comes to AI and the randomly generated nature of the levels, but it’s a solid budget title that’s worth your $29.99 if you and your 3 co-op buddies aren’t out of money yet.
Review Platform: PC