PAYDAY 2 Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

PAYDAY 2 Review for PlayStation 3 (PS3)

Become a Career Criminal

For many people, the line between becoming a criminal and remaining a socially acceptable citizen is a fine line to walk. Everyone has the capability of going from “Average Joe” to the realm of illegality with one ill-placed choice, and PAYDAY 2 capitalizes on the criminal in all of us.

As I began to play PAYDAY 2 , I found this ethical quandary quite easy to overcome. Because, believe it or not, I don’t find that my actions in video games mimic or determine my “real life” choices. Go figure. With my conscience clear, my gun loaded, and my mask on, I commenced to lay waste to an army of less-than-smart boys in blue and steal millions and millions of dollars. Happy days indeed.

But before you get started on your own campaign of criminality, there is something you should know. You will want, if not require, a couple of friends to play this game with you in order to experience it at its fullest. Yes, you can play it solo. But would you want to? Most likely not. The AI teammates that are supplied for your heists are almost useless at best and utter hindrances at worst. These neophyte bad guys probably don’t know how to tie their own shoes, much less help you complete any objective within any given heist scenario. They are moderately useful as bullet-sponges for the cops, and they sometimes help you up whenever you inadvertently get planted on your backside by the fuzz, but that is about it. You can’t assign them tasks; they won’t control the crowd of hostages; they won’t even carry bags of loot. Honestly, it might have been easier to just forego the team altogether, robbing and pillaging all by your lonesome. To sum it up, these guys are about as useless as an ejection seat on a helicopter. Just let that one soak in for a second. There you go.

Just as I was about to surrender to this exercise in futility, my colleague and editor, Mr. Cloyd, hopped online to give me a helping hand in my designs on underworld mischief. And here, loyal readers, is where it got fun.

Not only did having a team member that wasn’t completely useless help my frustration immensely, it actually made the game fun. A lot of fun, in fact. Objectives that were previously almost impossible became much easier to complete. Heists became a little more about planning the entry and control points, keeping hostages, and using strategy to outwit and take down the dimwitted AI police that seemed to have a death wish they satisfied by running headlong into the bullets coming from the business end of my rifle.

PAYDAY 2 Screenshot

Before, my idiotic AI partners in crime had no specialties to help with the heist in any dynamic way; they were just another hired gun. But when other people get involved in the gameplay, you suddenly have specialized heisters with interesting contributions to bring to the table. Initially, players will be able to pick one of four specialties–Mastermind, Enforcer, Technician, and Ghost. These easily traversable skill trees, if you want to call them that, add characteristics that make each character more useful to the mission at hand. Abilities range from medic and ammo bags to turrets and explosives, and they all have their uses during your heist. Need to disable a security camera? Need to cover a back entrance with a trip mine? With a few strategically placed skill points, the world is your oyster.

But it’s not all about bank heists in PAYDAY 2 . While it is one of the staples of the game, and consequently one of the biggest scores, there are a variety of mission types and locations to help build your offshore bank account. Throughout your adventures in crime-land, you will find yourself taking on frame jobs, running guns, busting up the local mall, and cooking meth (I’m not kidding) alongside your more traditional heists: banks, jewelry stores, and store robberies. Something I would have loved to have seen, though, would have been some convenience- and liquor-store robberies. Don’t ask me why, I don’t know why I feel this way, I just do. Don’t judge me.

PAYDAY 2 Screenshot

Pulling off a successful heist is satisfying, to say the least, especially if you do it right. But no matter what type of job you decide to pull, the gameplay will turn into one of two games. Game #1 is the objective-based robbery simulator that has all its members doing their job. Game #2 ends up being a horde mode of police officers as you watch your drill slowly crack whatever lock you have to break to progress through the job. As before, this is always more fun with a friend or two, due to the fact that every job turns into game #2 if played by yourself. Even if a game with friends does end up being the horde-mode experience, at least you can communicate and plan your escape, something sorely missing from solo play.

And then there is the rest of PAYDAY 2 .

Where the co-op gameplay succeeds well beyond expectations, everywhere else it just succeeds. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it just is what it is. Success is success by any measure, and for a game that released well under the typical new-game price of 60 bucks, PAYDAY 2 has some great bang for your buck.

PAYDAY 2 Screenshot

Graphically, the game isn’t typically impressive. But this game isn’t about artsy visuals, pixel-perfect character models, or showboat animated cutscenes (the game actually doesn’t have them at all.) It is about being a fun co-op experience, pure and simple. The playable character models are much more detailed than your run-of-the-mill copper and/or civilian, which can become surprisingly annoying when a blue-shirted citizen is running amongst the officer horde (killing a civilian carries with it a heavy penalty in the form of “cleaning” costs.) And while different job types look entirely different, jobs of the same type look almost identical, with only a few minor changes. However, the ability to complete any job in different ways keeps the gameplay fresh and engaging, making the visual similarities a little less noticeable.

Speaking of not noticeable, the sounds of PAYDAY 2 seem to have little impact on the overall gameplay. Don’t get me wrong, nothing sounds wrong or out of place. Hell, it’s not even overly repetitive. What it isn’t is memorable–nor is the control scheme. The controls are pretty much just your cookie-cutter FPS controls with the addition of an all-purpose “interact” button that enables you to subdue hostages, call out to teammates, and steal an all-in-one, conveniently located, if not dynamic, package. But I digress. Both the sound and control scheme are perfectly capable of delivering the intended experience, and that is what really matters, right?

But the burning question remains–should you buy PAYDAY 2 ? If you have a friends list full of like-minded and degenerate buddies, you really can’t beat the co-op experience for the price. But, by yourself, if you think you are going to be able to accomplish anything within this game beyond the simplest of heists, you’ve got another thing coming. This game is all about the co-op gameplay, and without it, PAYDAY 2 would be boring, frustrating, and decidedly below average. It just goes to show that if you set out to do one thing exceedingly well and accomplish it, other areas don’t matter quite as much. That sounds eerily like my personal life plan. Creepy.

Average current-gen graphics are capable of delivering the experience, but not much else. 3.5 Control
The standard FPS controls function as they should. 3.5 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Nothing seems to be missing from the soundscape, but nothing seems to stand out either. 3.5 Play Value
Single-player is bankrupt, but the co-op is ridiculous fun that will keep you playing. 3.5 Overall Rating – Good
Not an average. See Rating legend below for a final score breakdown.

Review Rating Legend
0.1 – 1.9 = Avoid 2.5 – 2.9 = Average 3.5 – 3.9 = Good 4.5 – 4.9 = Must Buy
2.0 – 2.4 = Poor 3.0 – 3.4 = Fair 4.0 – 4.4 = Great 5.0 = The Best

Game Features:

  • CrimeNet – The dynamic contract database lets gamers pick and choose from available jobs by connecting with local contacts such as Vlad the Ukrainian, shady politician “The Elephant,” and Mexican drug trafficker Hector, all with their own agenda and best interests in mind. CRIMENET features dozens of varied, exciting jobs and as the player progresses, new contacts with new jobs become available.
  • Choose Your Profession – As players progress, they can invest in any of four special professions: the Mastermind, the Enforcer, the Ghost, and the Technician. Each features a deep customization tree of associated skills and equipment to master, and they can be mixed and matched to create the ultimate heister.
  • Payday Loot – Finishing a job isn’t just an accomplishment to be proud of. After a successful heist, gamers will also earn rare and powerful new equipment such as masks, weapons mods, mask modifications, and a variety of other accessories.
  • Mission Assets – Every job has a set of purchasable assets that can alter and enhance the heist such as a faster escape car, blueprints, or even inside help.
  • Character Upgrades – The signature PAYDAY mask can now be customized into tens of thousands of different combinations, colors, and material variations, and there is a bigger selection of gear to wear for the discerning high-fashion heister.
  • Play It Your Way – Each job allows for multiple approaches, such as slow and stealthy ambushes to running in guns blazing. Players hit the target any way they want and watch as the heist unfolds accordingly.
  • Character Progression – Gamers begin as dime store thieves, and as the game progresses, they unlock new skills, weapons, accessories, and masks, eventually becoming legendary robbers.

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