Executing the perfect heist couldn’t be more difficult. It requires precision, timing and a lot of teamwork to execute it. That’s something Payday 2 tries to encourage throughout, whether you’re robbing a small jewellery store for a couple of dollars or you’re completing one of the biggest heists ever to bank millions in your offshore account. Now we have a Payday title on Xbox 360, how does it fair against the PC version?
Firstly what’s noticeable is the amount of screen-tearing, I played this on the PC without any issues so that’s clearly one limitation of the Xbox 360. Secondly there’s a couple of occasions when the frame rate drops, particularly when there’s a lot of enemies shooting and throwing smoke grenades at you to start an assault. I thought it was vital to get these issues out in the open first before you read anymore. The reason being is that if you own a decent gaming PC setup, I would highly recommend buying this title on that instead. The Xbox 360 version is still a lot of fun online, but it’s hindered by the console.
Now onto the actual objective of Payday 2. You form a team of four robbers and it’s your objective to complete robberies and heists by whatever means possible. I mentioned at the start of my review that teamwork was vital for a perfect heist, well you won’t be finding many games where jobs are completed professionally, unless you’re with friends or everyone is communicating in the game. I never even completed a job without some gun junkie opening fire in the jewellery store and giving us away. It’s unfortunate in a way that the game can be played like this, but I guess all heists and robberies can go stale and you’ve got to act upon it.
I’d also like to get something off my chest about party chat, I feel games like this which require teamwork should actually force you into game chat like Call of Duty does for certain game types like Search & Destroy, although I’m not entirely sure if they still do that now. But for Payday, it would work brilliantly for encouraging people to work together.
As a first-person shooter, you’re allowed to choose your loadout before the game starts, which grants you a primary and secondary weapon, as well as body armour (if needed) and a gadget. My personal favourite gadget was the trip mines that you could conveniently place under windows to stop the cops from entering from your flank. You can also buy attachments for your guns such as scopes and a suppressor if you want to get the drop on enemies silently. If I’m honest, you won’t be needing that though because it will be all guns blazing unless you’re with a full team of friends.
You can access a list of jobs to complete on Crime.net, which will display all the various jobs and the players doing them. I found myself getting kicked out of a lot of games, so be prepared for that. I think it was because they were playing as friends or they just assumed I knew nothing of the game because I was a low-level. You can host your own games though, just look for a job without anyone in it and you’ll assume control of it. There’s also a good variety of jobs to do, even if the objective is similar you’ll probably be at a different location and it doesn’t always play out the same. Police assaults sometimes occur more frequently, but it largely depends upon the money at stake.
Once you’ve completed the job, you then have to escape the scene like all good criminals do. Escape usually comes in the form of a van or helicopter. I had a lot of fun with Payday 2, despite the technical flaws, which is always a good thing when there’s a few issues in the way but you can get past them.
There’s also a levelling system in place, where you’re rewarded experience after completing a job. In turn these unlock skill points to use on the four skill trees: Mastermind, Enforcer, Technician and Ghost. I only really ventured into the technician side, since I seemed to be the one drilling open safes and a lot of the gadgets on offer caught my eye.
Payday 2 also comes with customisation options for your mask that you wear during the job. Once you slip out of incognito, you pull your mask on as a disguise to avoid identification. All in all, there’s 42 masks in total and you can then customise these with a pattern and colour scheme, which are unlocked at the end of each job when you’re asked to pick a bonus reward card. These loot cards also unlock weapon attachments, weapons are unlocked by ranking up and buying them with your cash on hand.
Mask customisation can produce a lot of different designs, which also means you’ll stand out from every other hired goon on the job. Game Director at Overkill Software, David Goldfarb stated that there are over 15.2 million combinations for masks, so rest assured there that you’re not going to look the same as everyone else.
Safehouse customisation is also coming at a later date, so if you’re wondering why you can’t access that despite it being mentioned while you’re in the Safehouse, just ignore it. Hopefully it will come at no charge, although you never know with new content on games these days. This is where your offshore account is likely to come into use, since at the moment it’s only acting as signifier of how successful you’ve been and how many heists/robberies you’ve completed.
The game might work best when played online, but that still doesn’t mean you can’t play offline. The AI is however pretty poor, brainless would be a better description – shot accuracy is terrible and they tend to stick like a magnet to your character, but on most of the jobs you’ll easily be able to complete them. Even if you do go down, at least you’ve got the magnetised AI to get you back up straight away.
One of the features I most enjoyed in the game was the soundtrack, completing a multi-million dollar heist with some dub step in the background actually proved to be the right selection. I may have even busted out some moves while in the nightclub during a job, admittedly to some strange looks from my teammates.
Payday 2 may become quite repetitive after you’ve played it for some time, but there’s enough to spice up jobs so they don’t always play out the same. Jobs largely depend on your team and their loadouts – for instance you might have a sentry gun to keep the back door clear or you might place trip mines at the front door to make a quicker more direct escape. It’s just a shame that the Xbox 360 version wasn’t polished up more before launch because the screen tearing is pretty jarring and don’t even get me started on the joining game messages that see the game freeze while a new team member loads in!