The Wrong Side of the Law
PAYDAY: The Heist is an upcoming cooperative first-person shooter that’s all about stealing ludicrous amounts of cash. I got to sit down with Richard Blom, the game’s Art Director, and take PAYDAY for a test drive. I have to admit that I left the game session with a gigantic grin on my face.
The map I got to play on was called The First World Bank. It featured a bank heist that reminded me of the opening scene from The Dark Knight . (The robbers were even wearing colorful rubber masks.) In fact, Blom admitted openly that the team drew a lot of inspiration from Hollywood films, and I imagine that the scene was one of the many influences he was referring to.
Before the game started, there was a little excerpt from a TV news broadcast all about a bank heist. Then came the words, “45 minutes earlier,” and the action began.
I started off outside the bank that would lose quite a bit of cash within the next 45 minutes. I walked in casually as I was given my first mission: I needed to steal a passkey from a guard. Blom explained that I had two options here: I could either try to get the key subtly without anyone noticing, or I could whip out my gun and kick the heist into high gear. I attempted to get the key the more peaceful way, even though I was warned that sometimes observant guards will realize you have a gun and alert the authorities. But a second player soon joined in on the heist and came in with guns blazing, kicking off the heist.
At this point, the civilians got down on their hands and knees, and I was able to tie a couple down. These civilians became my hostages, and Blom explained that they could be used as bargaining chips later in the game should one of my teammates be taken into custody.
Before the cops arrived, there was a fairly peaceful stretch, during which some team members got a drill set up on the vault door. My next mission was to defend this drill as the police started showing up. It took a little bit of time, but once they showed up, the action ramped up quickly, and so did the body count.
I don’t want to ruin any surprises here, so I’ll just say that the rest of the mission featured some very interesting twists that kept me on my toes.
The First World Bank was only one of the six maps that will ship with the full game. I didn’t get full details on all six maps, but Blom told me that one would have players pull a heist in a Mafia den. Not only will you have to stay one step ahead of the mob, but you’ll also have an army of police to deal with.
I asked if there was a casino stage—a reference to Ocean’s Eleven —and Blom laughed. Apparently, this is one of the most frequently asked questions regarding further stages. With so many people requesting it, perhaps we’ll see a casino stage as DLC someday. Blom did confirm that beyond the game’s six stages, there will be DLC stages in the future, so this is a possibility.
PAYDAY reminds me very much of the Left 4 Dead games. It features four-player co-op (online only), and any character not controlled will still be present as A.I. Also like in Left 4 Dead, some of the events in the game are randomized to keep the sages from feeling too repetitive. There is even a Left 4 Dead-inspired glow around the characters so they remain visible through walls.
But this isn’t just Left 4 Dead, heist-style. There are some interesting variances on the formula. For example, players have the ability to drop duffle bags full of ammo. If you run out of ammo during the fight, you can always return to a duffle bag for a reload. This makes things a bit more interesting, especially in those instances in which you realize you left your stash in a room that’s now swarming with police.
There’s also a level-up system with 145 levels, allowing players to earn new skills, weapons, and customization options.
PAYDAY: The Heist is a very interesting take on the cooperative shooter. More importantly, it’s ridiculously fun. I can’t wait for this one to hit PlayStation Network and Steam later this year.