Payday 2: Preview

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Payday: The Heist burst onto the gaming scene in the Autumn of 2011, for PS3 and PC. Two years later Overkill are back with the sequel. Will it be a steal?

Influenced by Valve’s Left 4 Dead, the first Payday game offered four player co-op missions, set in urban environments. However, instead of shooting zombies, the player was tasked with stealing money, jewels or whatnot and then trying to escape, whilst being attacked by waves of cops.

Designed using the Diesel engine, the game was no looker (it looked in our opinion worse than Left 4 Dead), but it was perfectly functional, and more importantly smooth and fast. Whilst Payday 2 uses the same engine it seems to look better, and on a decent PC is quite pleasing to the eye. Don’t expect Battlefield 3 graphics, but it still runs very nicely. We have not seen a PS3 or 360 version yet to compare.

Payday 2 feels much more like a persistent crime universe and achieves this by utilising a game mechanic called CRIMENET. CRIMENET is an in-game platform which allows you to see potential ‘jobs’ becoming available for you to play on a map of the city. Each job will be rated depending on its difficulty. Some will be easy, whilst others will really require you to level up before starting, and ideally partnering with another one to three additional players. One large difference between Payday 1 and 2 is that in single player mode there is no friendly AI playing on your side. You will be truly alone.

Payday 2 allows you to level up – XP can be spent on perks which improve characteristics based upon your class. You can have assets across classes, but you cannot max out multiple classes. Money from the heists can be used to purchase better weapons and tools of the trade, so the more you play the more you can improve using two distinct currencies, operating on two different speeds of update. The skill trees available to you are linked to the following classes:

  • Ghost, who offers stealth type benefits
  • Technician, who can operate and use gadgets such as sentry guns
  • Enforcer, who has brute strength, ideal for carrying bags of cash and running at the same time
  • Mastermind, the player with intellect able to intimidate civilians and cops, even getting them to join your ranks for a period.

Currency can be used on weapons, but can also be used to unlock pre-mission help, such as codes for security systems and extra briefing information. These are not required to complete the mission, but can make your life a lot easier, and perhaps allow you to escape with more loot. Hence it’s a potential investment decision. There are at least 30 different locations and each time you play a mission in one of them, all the elements are randomly changed. You’ll never have the exact same experience again, and that’s before you take into account the random nature of your human co-op partners.

The game looks like it’s a lot of fun to play. Left 4 Dead, its original reference point, managed to create that sense of fun, panic and at times humour caused by the missteps of your co-op partners. In contrast, Payday always seemed a more serious proposition, due to the subject matter and lack of zombies. Payday 2 keeps that serious edge, but the level we saw seemed really fun, with lots of potential scenarios for reenacting scenes from films such as Heat, or even the Die Hard style movies with urban shootouts. Overkill have gone out of their way to find ways of rewarding players for taking part, and this title has a good chance of finding a community of players keen to develop their career in crime.

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Written by Steven G

Steven Gurevitz is the CEO of 2002 Studios Media LTD and a founder of gaming accessory company Asiiya. 2002 Studios started off as a music production company, but produces a range of content from videos to videogames. The company specialises in localizing content for global brands. He also owns the Urban Sound Label, a small niche e-label. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor and co-owner CriticalGamer.co.uk. He enjoys FPS, Third person 'free world', narrative driven and portable gaming. He is a freelance music tech writer, having co-written the Music Technology Workbook and is a regular contributor to CriticalGamer.co.uk.

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