After driving all over the city to find a copy, I finally got to sit down and enjoy PayDay 2. However, enjoyment only comes when the right conditions are prevalent.
In PayDay 2, you play as one of four robbers (they all have names and back stories, but they don’t matter at all during the missions) who take on random jobs around the city to score some major cash. These missions range from robbing a jewelry store or bank, to making your own meth and selling it to drug lords without a hitch. Each mission varies in difficulty, and promises that you will not have the same mission twice. There are many different ways to go about some of these missions, and success solely lies on your team actually communicating with one another. Even some of the hardest missions can be a breeze if your team is up for it.
After every mission, all four of you get a cut of the money with added value if you overachieve and grab more than what is required, and subtracted due to level or the very prevalent possibility of shooting a civilian. And you will be killing lots of civilians in your time in PayDay 2. A melee strike (at least early on) can kill a civilian with one hit, as well as any bullet anywhere. So when you are in a shoot out with cops across the street from you, it is a big possibility of a stray bullet nicking someone’s ankle and murdering them. Luckily, there are some missions that do not have this problem, but add their own share of hardships. Some rely on pure stealth to archive the best possible outcome, but if you and your team aren’t leveled enough, the missions become raging shoot outs that last as long as it has to until you either escape or your team ends up in custody. This becomes an even bigger problem when ammo scarcity comes into play: one of the end missions had me and my allies entering a building, taking an unmarked engine, and brining it back to a helicopter. Then we had to wait about three minutes or so for them to tell us it was not the right one, which requires us to go in and grab another. After about four motors and all the police officers in the world, we finally got the right motor, but didn’t have enough bullets or health to wait out for the helicopter to come back. A fifty minute mission wasted with only a handful of experience to show for it.
If you haven’t gathered it yet, this game is meant for online cooperative multiplayer. You and three others basically play the game as you were the four musketeers; all for one and one for all. Constant conversations and planning gets your gang farther than a quiet party, as you tend to be more organized and clear headed on the missions. There is a single player offline mode, but it is without questions tedious and painstaking. Not only does the game drop you a member, but you have to do everything yourself. Pick up the drill, set up the drill, tie up hostages, set up another drill, put up planks, fix both drills, stash the money, pick the locks, and secure all the stashes in the van when it’s time to do so all becomes your problem, as the other two AI partners fire at cops the entire time of the mission. I even lost a couple of those simple missions because my partners were too occupied with cops to pick me up, regardless of how close they are to me.
Though the single player alone would be bad enough, there are other smaller issues that plague PayDay 2 for me. The graphics are nothing to marvel at, and the soundtrack and voice overs won’t win them any awards, though my biggest gripe in this aspect comes from the level designs. Whether you are robbing a jewelry store across the map or the first one you see, it happens to be basically the same store with some minor tweaks in layout. Maybe one level will have another guard on patrol or an extra camera in a blind spot, but the stores are all the same. The clubs are the same, the banks are the same, and the malls are the same. Some added creativity and level designs could’ve helped PayDay in the long run, as well as some kind of bullet detection would help as well. On my first mall mission, I went straight for the exotic car showcase room to do some damage. Even at point blank range with an assault rifle didn’t even make a dent or a hole in the car. I don’t know if bullet holes will be something patched in later, but the lack of it sure is annoying.
With all of that said, you would think I didn’t like PayDay 2 all that much. That is not the case. When working with a great group of people, this heist game gets rather engrossing. The multiple leveling branches opens up different ways of finishing missions and helping you get more money for more guns and better equipment. The customizable and unlockable masks adds much needed personality to your character, and adds that much more replayability to get a better looking mask. Success is the most satisfying feeling in this game, as you and your comrades and gloat, deliberate, and celebrate together as a unit.
PayDay 2 is a quintessential water cooler game; although beginning the missions tend to be the same, how you spend experience and what you do next creates your stories. Sure, most stories will start with “While the drill was going…” but whatever comes next should be rather a different story once you level up a couple times. There are major flaws prevalent in PayDay 2, but the missions and the friends you make along the way make it all that much more enjoyable. Some flaws, like the horrendous single player, cannot be overlooked, but with a reasonable price (even more so through your preferred online marketplace), PayDay 2 becomes quite a steal.
Final Grade: B-