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  1. Harrison Lee

    Review: Payday 2

    Developer: Overkill Games Publisher: 505 Games Platforms: PS3, PC, XBOX 360 Release Date: 08/13/12 Rating: M for Mature This review is based on the PC version of the game Masks on. Guns drawn. Imposing in my olive drab bullet-proof armor, I shout a civilian to his knees and zip-tie him. Three others clad in similar gear do the same, quickly clearing out the lobby of the local bank. I help in securing some of the windows with wooden planks. One of us four Robin Hoods sets the thermal drill to work on the bank's vault. And then the alarm trips. Ten minutes later I'm running out of ammo and heaving a bag full of gold. Bullets are slamming me from all directions. I toss the bag into the getaway van and barely escape with two guys. The last dude goes down in the street but we have to leave him, cutting down our take. Oops. Welcome to the controlled criminal chaos that is Payday 2. As you might have guessed from the title, Payday 2 is all about doing dirty work to get paid big bucks. Jobs can range from small jewelry store heists to multi-day arms thefts and painting set-ups. There are numerous options for every mission, including increased difficulties and the Overkill missions, which can only be attempted once. Fail any single day of the Overkill set and you forfeit experience and the titular Payday. Mission variety is a little lacking at the moment. There are roughly 8 or 10 separate events, though they repeat frequently and rarely feature major randomized changes. A camera or guard might be in a different spot but this barely changes the experience. Thankfully, the developers at Overkill have promised free and paid expansions to get more mileage out of the experience. I really hope the new content arrives soon as the current rotation of maps and missions does get tiresome. That said, I've already invested about 40 hours or so until the main game. That might tell you something about how much fun I've had robbing banks and cooking meth. Very few jobs in Payday 2 can be done on your own. For that, you need a dependable crew that constantly communicates and moves as one entity. Short of a miracle, you'll never find a group that can pull off a heist without detection. Inevitably, a civilian outside of a heist site will see a body or someone will call the cops. Fortunately, the four robbers are armed to the teeth. Each player can spend his or her take on new weapons and gun parts, crafting the choice firearm. Unfortunately, ammo is a rarity during jobs so it's important to place shots carefully. Wasting a single bullet can leave you desperate when the Bulldozers and Taser cops flood in. Payday 2 also has a progression system with perks stretched across four major trees. Prefer stealth over combat? Go with the Ghost tree. Like swaying enemy cops to your cause? Level up with Mastermind. Ultimately, I found a combo of the Ghost and Technician trees to be most useful, but it's all about your crew set-up and your own personal play-style. Some trees will offer special equipment like turrets and door-busting C4. Having players with a special set of equipment can make life convenient when heavily-armored cops approach or a vault has a hidden inner door. Speaking of police, it's important to note that there are multiple cop types, each with their own abilities and nuances. Bulldozers are the nastiest of the bunch, dressed in bulletproof suits and face shields. SWAT officers are weak but pack a considerable punch in groups. Payday 2 will kill you in whatever way it can, throwing droves of heavily armored and accurate foes at you. It's important to balance your need for speed with the need for protection with body armor, lest a bullet cut you down. Enemies will take downed players into custody, though the aforementioned zip-tied hostages can be exchanged during breaks in cop waves. Trying to play Payday 2 without human players is futile. You only get two AI partners, neither of whom carry upgraded gear or can pick up mission-critical items. They serve as decent meatshields and that's it. Play online if you don't want to beat your head against a wall. Besides, it's far more enjoyable when you can communicate and alert team-mates to impending dangers and changes in the mission. As you might expect from a $30-MSRP title, Payday 2 isn't a technical stunner. The visuals, while improved over the original title, aren't terribly beautiful. The effects are also decent at best and inoffensive at worst. It's a clean-looking game, which is useful when you need to focus your attention on enemies. The audio is great and has a pulsing electronic soundtrack. The voice-overs are also better than the average phoned-in performance. Again, it's not going to win Oscars but Payday 2 gets the job done. Unfortunately, Payday 2 isn't the most bug-free of titles. The UI is also a bit of a mess, making it increasingly aggravating to find jobs you want. Missions only pop up on a timed refresh, meaning you have to wait until it disappears for a new job to pop in. Even then, there's no guarantee you'll get the precise mission you want in a timely fashion. If the UI were a tad cleaner and the frustrating bugs ironed out, Payday 2 would be a marvelous experience. That said, Overkill has already shown fantastic dedication to hot fixes and re-balancing patches. Community is at the heart of this game and community feedback helps to drive the patch fixes. Despite the UI, bugs and lack of technical achievement, Payday 2 is an absolute must-buy if you're an action junky. It's a game of manic chaos and adrenaline-pumping heists, channeling the inner criminal fantasy. While the mission selection is currently slim, the promised DLC and character customization/progression options more than justify the current price. Payday 2 offers a lot of bang for your buck and will command a lot of your time. Take a bite of the poisoned apple and do yourself a favor - buy Payday 2. Pros: + Great combat + Fun and diverse missions + Character progression + Lots of weapon customization options Cons: - Not enough missions - The UI is messy - A bit buggy from time to time Overall Score: 8 (out of 10) Great Payday 2 is that game, the one that will suck you dry if you get hooked. It's thrilling, addicting and a steal if you take the plunge on this heist.
  2. Here's another contest from SpawnFirst. 2 Steam codes for the Payday 2 Career Criminal Edition, each code includes the full game, loot DLC, and also the first upcoming Payday 2 DLC: Armored Heist. 2 ways to win! Check out the link below for details: http://www.spawnfirst.com/payday-2-giveaway/ Good luck, guys'n'gals!
  3. Let's just get three things straight before Kiwi digs down into the nitty-gritty of his impression. One - This is a beta, so anything Kiwi mentions here may be changed in the final version, much of it was even based on day 1 impressions of a beta. Two - If you liked Payday 1, this game is worth the purchase. Three- Kiwi may refer to the original Payday as "The Heist" as that was the sub title. With that out of the way, let's get down to brass tacks. The Good - Kiwi likes these bits, and so should you. The Heists - Kiwi's very first mission, Watchdogs, started with him and his crew sitting in a meat trailer that also happened to contain quite a few bags of coke. You can hear the Police shouting outside. We each pick up a bag, and not a moment too soon, the door gets shot down to pieces and we find ourselves facing what would, in real world, be half the police force, but in Payday land it's just a normal squad. We desperately scramble to a room that is the closest thing to safe that isn't covered in police. As a result, we realized we left half of the goods behind. Not only that, but the police had started to make off with some of our coke themselves, clearly planning to hand it over to their one percent overlords, who prefer Pepsi, for destruction or some other rich purpose. Situations like this are a frequent occurrence in Payday 2. If you don't put a leash on your loot, it may decide to wander off. The heists in the original were quite fun in their design. Payday 2 shows all signs of turning up the dial for its major heists, based upon the two mutli-day heists that are currently in the beta. What occurs in later days can be affected by events in the previous stag, such as, say, a meth-splosion. But adding to that are a number of quick jobs, such as robbing a jewelry store, which can be done in a single 10 to 15 minute session, and gives the players any number of ways of bring home the bacon. These short one day jobs provide an excellent, relatively low risk alternative to the higher stake heists. The Team - Payday 2 comes back with a leveling system that has received a serious makeover. There are four skill trees you can take: Mastermind, Enforcer, Technician, and Ghost. The Mastermind is the one who controls the spice civilians and provides buffs for the team. The Enforcer suppresses the rights of the police with automatic fire, favors being tougher than what's going against him, and generally being the muscle of the group. The Technician brings some life to the party in the form of trip mines, which can be upgraded to double as shaped charges for blowing open doors and safes, turrets that are actually bullet hoses with no off switch, and great aptitude for handling the ever-jamming drills that are actually in league with the police. Finally the Ghost, master of stealth, lockpicks, and not getting shot, including an ability that causes enemies to focus on teammates rather then themselves, making them the best of friends. Payday 2's level and loot system encourages teams to work together to figure out things such as the bag chain shown here. These myriad abilities are fun enough on their own, but it's when they work together coming in as a team. The skill trees are set as such that every member brings something to the team, even when technically out of their element. The Enforcer, for example, even in stealth missions where suppression and toughness aren't needed can be used to quickly take down a security guard with his increased melee power, and it's a rare mission where being able to hurl a sack full of loot across a street isn't useful. There's also no penalty for operating out of your field, so any well-organized team can make use of a man who isn't doing something at the time. The Sounds - The sound effects in Payday 1 were typically considered to be either average or sub-par. The same accusation can not be leveraged at this outing. Fire fights sound less like vague approximations of people shooting at each other and more going deaf because you're fighting in a confined metal space with automatic rifles like a dumb person. Your environment actually affects how things sound, which is a nice touch that Kiwi doesn't see nearly often enough. The music suits the action well, drawing in the typical inspiration for heisty shenanigans. The voice acting is roughly the same quality with some new voice actors, so your opinion on the voice acting can vary depending on how much you liked the original. The Thrill - If you found Payday: The Heist to be impossible on normal with a full crew, well this won't be for you. For those of you who love it when a plan comes together or the rush of just barely pulling through with half team in custody and one guy on the floor bleeding out, this is for you. The game's received a bump in difficulty for a number of reasons. One appreciated change is the decision to make the police less numerous overall, but tougher. So instead of a never ending legion of incompetent porcelain men, you get a never ending stream of mostly incompetent stone men. It makes for a much more engaging and less immersion breaking combat. Cops are also more liable to flank the player rather than the players being able to hold up in a corner of safety and shoot down a hallway. Overall, Payday 2 is much better at maintaining an exciting with intense experiences. The Bad - Genuine Issues with the game, that Kiwi can't just attribute to it being in beta. The Unlocks - It seems odd to list unlocks as an issue when Kiwi was praising the leveling/ability system, but there is a method to this madness. When you complete a mission, you can pick one out of 3 cards. You cannot see what the cards are until after one has been chosen. The cards fall into three categories: mask, weapon, and jokers. Kiwi has no clue what jokers do due to the random acquisition method, which, funnily enough, is what's bad about the system. The weapon modification system has a lot of fiddly bits for you to play with and discover to make the flashiest shooter, which is a plus, but your only source of weapon upgrades is this system which the player has no control over, easily leaving them with no actual options for their weapon of choice. In addition to this, the weapon upgrades are obscenely expensive while removal of an attachment is free. It cost the same price to reapply the same upgrade to the same weapon. Kiwi is personally fine with mask customization being this random and expensive. Although weapon tweaking is something that is expensive beyond the player's control, and can significantly impact gameplay which really bugs Kiwi. Also cosmetic things such as patterns and colors disappear when you use them so you can't re-do a mask after you customized it. The player gets absolutely 0 indication of what they are getting until they flip the card over. Tying into this, is the fact that of the myriad options available to open things, many of them are locked off from new players. Many doors and safes have multiple ways to open them. You can place a drill on them (the most common way), find a key card (where applicable), shoot it open, pick the lock, blow it open with shaped charges, or use a saw. The last 3 are level locked*, requiring a decent investment into their respective skill trees, despite lock picking being the only viable way of silently doing it (as key cards are not always available). The AI - The team hasn't fixed some of the more noticeable AI bugs from the original, which is strange considering these changes are pretty obvious. Police still have an arbitrary turbo mode that looks absurd, but the hilarity of it ends when they use it to melee you (which has an animation but the animation is very fast and it hits before the animation plays) for 1/4th to half your health. Cops will just ignore objects like cars in the environment, instantly moving from beside something to on top of something. Also specials are less distinct now, so you can't pick out the major threats as easily. It becomes an even greater problem when a Bulldozer (who has gotten both a health buff and the obvious weak point removed) uses the nitrous oxide built into the suit.** Specials, such as the Tasers shown here lack a standout look. They also never show up on the lower difficulty, so players won't learn to identify these enemies until they are in the wild, so to speak. Then we come to the civilians which nothing has been changed about them. They refuse to heed your angry armed man commands until they are finished whatever pointless drone task they are engaged in. Their reactions to the fights are either ignore it or valiantly sacrifice their useless poor personal lives to protect the servants of the one percent (the police, in case you weren't paying attention. This was an issue in the original game, but unlike that, the price for shooting a civilian is significant, and you will pay that price regardless of success (you get nothing for failing, so shooting a civilian in a failed mission takes money out of your pocket). The Soloist - Don't bother, it's nigh-impossible. You only get two bots (so you're down a person) and they can't carry loot. It is an exercise in frustration to complete anything beyond the absolute easiest missions in solo. The Beta - These are complaints or observations based upon features that will most likely The Safe house - In it's current state in the beta, there's not really anything to do there except a shooting gallery and looking at a pile of money on a counter. The tutorial bits really only show that you can press F on things, and doesn't do any job of demonstrating the stealth, loot, or any other new game mechanics. Brand new players might find a use, but those familiar with The Heist will find it unnecessary to them. There's mentions that it will be customizable, but even then, Kiwi's not seeing much reason to go into it. An option to use it as a between mission hub/chill out spot as the players do decide the next score would be Kiwi's favorite way of using it, but it does add another loading screen and a number of players won't particularly care about it. Crime.net - The current method for choosing missions is going to be Crime.net where jobs appear on a map of D.C. The actual job and the difficulty are determined randomly, as in the player must wait for a Hard Jewelry heist mission to pop up as opposed to just picking a Jewelry Store mission and setting it to hard. This does provide an answer to the problem Kiwi's had with groups in The Heist of well what do we do now? By encouraging players to be more spontaneous with their heist choices, but with the current number of missions in the beta, the issue is that there are both few options and we don't have much of a choice. This will definitely be less of an issue in release, but Kiwi has no idea much it will be resolved. Difficulty modifiers (denoted on missions as orange stars), greatly increase the pay and XP you can get from a misison, but also lead to facing a tougher lot of enemies, such as these heavier SWAT units. So just to reiterate, Payday 2 is a great improvement in nearly every area, based upon the beta. It is a much more refined experience, with a less arcadey feel, and somewhat more realistic art style. The difficulty increase over The Heist will primarily be felt by groups playing without a full party since a full party will bring enough to the party to tip the scales. If you want a great co-op experience for you and 3 friends or are a fan of the original, you owe it to yourself to pick up Payday 2. Payday 2 is currently in a beta (though it's more of an early access demo) for those who bought the Career Criminal Edition (Priced at $50, $30 for a normal version) on PC. It is slated for an August 13 release date on PC, Xbox 360, and PS3 *Some things anyone can lockpick but a good number of things can be picked only by the Ghost **The Bulldozer does not actually have any kind of thruster built into his suit, unless they are cleverly disguised.