As an avid player of first person shooters I believe the genre that unfortunately dominates gaming has grown mighty stale. It would be challenging to muster up the enthusiasm for another cookie-cutter war-based storyline even if Activision programmed an unlockable Christina Hendricks sex tape into this fall’s Call of Duty: Every Single November. Payday 2 intrigued the hell out of me however because its themes are mostly untapped in the realm of first person shooters, and honestly, who hasn’t dreamt about robbing a bank Point Break style? Unfortunately what Overkill studios have given us is half a game here, which is a real shame because with a little more care this could have been an absolute masterpiece.
If you don’t plan on playing Payday 2 online with friends don’t even bother, the AI is so glaringly bad it’s a wonder that the title ever made it out of production. Most of the missions inevitably involve your crew transporting some sort of cargo to an awaiting van, and your computer partners aren’t even able to accomplish the simple task of picking up an object and dropping it off in the correct location. On a positive note the AI won’t completely muff up your perfectly planned stealth attempts on purpose, something I certainly can’t say for the majority of random players I encountered online.
The most enjoyable way to play Payday 2 is with three of your friends who actually use microphones. When the missions are pulled off flawlessly you will feel extremely satiated as a player, but communication and precise planning are necessary, even on some of the easier and shorter selections. One stupid mistake can cost you an entire run, and this will happen 99.9 percent of the time you even attempt, making robberies that don’t end up turning into the last act of Dog Day Afternoon both extremely rare and immensely rewarding.
There are only ten main missions, but the locations of goods, cameras, guards, and safes are always generated randomly. This is the much-needed adrenaline shot of replay value that the game desperately needs, it would be far too easy to complete the levels if everything remained the same during every play through. Picking missions can actually be a chore however, there’s no menu per say, just a map with jobs of varying difficulty appearing at random. I understand what the developers were going for here, but after searching for a specific mission without success numerous times I was really longing for a traditional level selection system.
The character leveling is very addictive but also nothing original. Four separate skill trees are selectable, and mixing and matching perks from each is encouraged, you’ll have plenty of flexibility by level 50, and that’s only the halfway point: Payday 2 is a long grind to 100. Supposedly six DLC packs are on the way, this should alleviate the main ten missions growing stale even with the randomness factor figured in.
Despite its many egregious flaws I got tons of enjoyment out of Payday 2: The Heist when I was playing with a few of my buddies, alone however it was an absolute chore that frustrated me consistently. If you have a steady crew you can recruit this is a must have game to scratch that criminal urge until Grand Theft Auto releases next month.