There is so much to say about Payday 2, and yet it feels like everything has already been said. The successor to Payday: The Heist has a few great additions and improvements, couple that with a solid co-op shooter and it’s the making of another fun multiplayer game. Too bad it seems that the bare minimum has been reached.
Payday 2 is a really fun, crazy, and over-the-top game. There is an abundance of missions (even if you will replay them) that can be dealt with in different ways, from completely stealth to an all-out guns blazing shoot out with SWAT. With a leveling system and four different skill trees it becomes easy to put in numerous hours, slowly working towards your next upgrade. Successfully finishing missions gives you experience, cash, and a choice of three different cards that hold an upgrade component for either your customized mask or weapons. Everything does costs a lot, so it can become a slow process to gain access to new abilities and weapons.
The online drop-in, drop-out play style can be a blast. It is usually easy to jump into other peoples Heists and help them out, and vice versa. Other times, it just won’t work. Every lobby is somehow full when you try and join, and moments later are back to only containing one player. Then you try and join again. Nope, full. When you finally get into an online game, whether you made your own lobby or join someone else’s, anytime another player joins the game forcibly paused for around 30 seconds as to drop them in. This just seems nonsensical, why interrupt the action packed gameplay and flow of combat? Playing with friends is the ideal option, no interruptions to the action and strategizing with each on how to pull off the next heist is the pinnacle of co-op gameplay. Playing solo, while a viable option, is incredibly hard at times and does not carry the same satisfaction as a planned heist with your friends.
In true Payday style, the accompanying music is amazing; a heavier beat keeps your blood pumping for the next bag full of cash. Characters don’t talk much, but when they do it is generally engaging and fitting. Some NPCs will not respond to commands to get down and just stare blankly at you; others will walk over cars or slide backwards and forwards over the kiosks and stands. While this can be entertaining, killing civilians is penalized and I found myself accidentally shooting them because of this. Graphically, Payday 2 gets the job done and can look pretty slick at times, however when casing a possible heist, the blandness of some locations becomes apparent.
If you have a few friends who are interested in an engaging and intense co-op game, than Payday 2 is as good as it can get. Hopefully online matchmaking will be fixed, or become clearer, so it will be just as much fun to rob a bank with strangers as it is with friends. While it’s not a masterpiece, Payday 2 is the kind of game you can invest hours upon hours in and it will continue to deliver difficult yet rewarding and enjoyable experience.
FINAL ROUND RATING 7.5 / 10
- Steff Webb