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Viewing Review: Payday 2 Preview - CRR Gaming
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Payday 2 Preview
by Wizminkey Combined Rating: 3.3
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A rich sequel to a promising co-op heist game gets a dramatic facelift for PC and PS3.
Pros
Cons
  • Fun, dynamic co-op experience
  • Lots of customization in skills, weapons, tools and masks
  • The UI is informative without being obtrusive, and it's usually quite clear what you should be doing
  • Strong AI that tests you while still responding to your threats; sneaking into your blind spots or grabbing cover
  • A bad team can ruin a game; lone wolves who need rescue can turn a heist from perfect to failed in thirty seconds
  • May feel grindy to casual players who look through all the possible things they can do if they get another 30 levels and $300k
  • Team AI is still kinda dumb as nails. They'll stare at you while a cop shoots them in the back, and don't contribute to objectives. But it's meant to be a co-op game, not single player with annoying other humans
  • Steeper price point than the last game may disuade some, but there is a lot of content there this time around.
I still remember when I first heard about Payday: The Heist. Finally, a co-operative-focused shooter that would reward people for working together! The product finally came and while fun, it somehow fell short. Character progression felt like too much of a grind, repeating missions and some wonky AI issues made the gameplay start to grind in higher difficulties and the community became very elitist.

So when I started hearing about a sequel, the spark re-lit. I combed over the gameplay mechanic changes, how the missions would be structured and the depth of customization that I had hoped to see in the first. At its core, it's still the same game; Wolf, Hoxton, Chains and Dallas are back from a long retirement. Bane needs their help with a series of heists across the city, and needs the best crew he's got.

Missions - Flow, Variables and Choice

The original Payday gave the imaginings of stealthy thieves skulking through darkened buildings emptying safes. Instead, it often boiled down to a full-on shootout within the first two minutes of each map. Overkill has worked hard this time to change that. Stealth is now a viable option with the right teamwork, tools and caution. Before you don your masks you can walk around somewhat, if you get out of camera/cop eyesight before their awareness fills. It is also much more possible to control your hostages and prevent alert from spreading outside a room/building if you're cautious and quiet about it.

The maps are more dynamic this time around, with vaults, security rooms, cash bundles, cameras and guards altering their layout or routes so you can't memorize the "right" way of tackling each map. When you first log on to Crime.net, you're shown a map full of possible heists to choose from. Differing difficulties and maps are available, with more choice opening as your character earns more levels and the tools you'll need to tackle them via your skill tree.

When decision time comes down to start the heist, it's no longer a team-wide aggro situation. It's entirely possible to still be stealthy while 1-2 other players control the hostages. Get them to tie them down while you set up quiet safe-opening and you can potentially stop the alarm ever going off.

Depending on how your team is skilled and equipped, you can tackle a heist, door, safe or vault a number of ways. Lay C4 on it to blow it open, use a high-powered saw to rip it off its hinges, or take it the slow and potentially stealthy option of a lockpick or drill. The more specialized entries are locked behind higher-level skills, but the old drill from the first Payday makes a return for anyone to use and restart over a timer of up to 5 minutes.

Once the shtuff hits the fan, it feels like the old Payday, but with more responsive controls and with much-improved AI behind the cops. Laying down cover fire will make them all scramble for cover. SWAT units will stack up on a door and "shoot and scoot," as they are fond of crying out. The Specials from the first make a return in more deadly and devious ways. They work with the regular cops around them this time instead of playing lone wolves. Tasers will hang back and wait for their buddies to distract you, a new agile type will work hard to flank you and lay into you with fast SMG fire and the Tanks are more deadly and agressive than ever, barging through doorways and plowing into you with bomb gear and a heavy gun.

Customization - Masks, Guns and Skills

At the end of every successful Heist, you are given a 1/3 card choice. The card reveals a reward in the form of cash, a weapon attachment "blueprint," or something related to the new Mask customization system.

There are hundreds of combinations of base masks, colours, patterns and decals to dress up your mask with now. I've only begun to unlock some bits, but I can see how it will be fun to deck out the Monkey mask when I get it

Weapons gain a similar drastic facelift; you have to buy every weapon and mod, but you can't buy them until you've unlocked them. Weapons by level and attachments by random card luck. They can be pricey investments when you consider your cash pool is also used to spend skill points in your tree, but buying and modding the right gun for your playstyle makes a massive difference this time. Wield a shotgun and SMG, or a high-powered rifle and silenced handgun if you're more into the ghost approach.

Skills are a great new system that gives more choice than the first. Your progression is no longer so forced, with the ability to spend your skill points in whichever trees you want. I would suggest picking a single tree early on and focusing to get that class' special tool or ability, but you can now mix and match passive skills and equipment the way you want. Each Tier of the tree has three abilities with two ranks each. Spending the first point (plus cash) gives a basic tool, ability or bonus and "Ace"ing it with three more points (and more cash) gives a stronger or secondary function to the first.

Summary

Anyone who played the first and was disappointed may be very pleasantly surprised by the sequel. Anyone who missed the first and enjoys a good co-op experience with friends would do well to check it out. Teamwork, strategy and intelligence will make a team of low-level players awesome, but the sequel doesn't punish the average or under-average players as much as before. New players who are still learning can tackle the Safe House to learn how to interact with stuff, or to try out new weapons and skills.

Single player is back with bots, but it's a frustrating experience to be honest. The team AI are good shots, but they will not assist with any objectives; carrying bags, opening things, that's all on you and makes the experience a bit boring. I would honestly ignore the mode apart from practice, because the lack of help completing objectives is a huge penalty, but a limitation that is natural to put in place to avoid people AFK-farming the bots' work.

The co-op experience is a lot more fun, with people taking on tasks; Bob covers the hostages in the lobby while Steve is on the roof with his rifle. John is using his saw to bust a vault open and Mark patrols the interior for any sneaky cops. Work together, and the game is a blast.
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TobyBlumenthal 06-29-2018, 04:26 AM

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Details
Game Link:
CO-OP:
Yes
Platform:
XBox 360
PS3
PC
Price:
$39.99 on PSN, $29.99 on PC (Steam)
Release Date:
August 13, 2013
Ratings
Submitter Rating
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Gameplay:
Multiplayer:
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Replayability or Replay Value:
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User Rating
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5 User Ratings
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