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PAYDAY 2: A Heister's Review

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With the release of The Bomb Heists DLC earlier today, I decided it was time to write up a comprehensive review of the robbers versus cops game, PAYDAY 2.


PAYDAY 2 is the second, 4-player, online cooperative game in the series developed by Overkill Software, mixing high-octane action with careful preparation and team co-operation. You control one of four members of the PAYDAY heister gang in their various attempts to free Washington, D.C. of their burgeoning capital. With several semi-randomized missions ranging from robbing jewelry stores and banks, to sneaking into a senator's apartment to plant false drugs, the PAYDAY gang has something for the little crook in all of us.

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Missions are broken down into two categories - some of which that can fit into both loud and stealth and span several difficulty levels. Loud missions have you and your crew (or up to 3 AI players) attempt to forcefully remove whatever cash, gold or other valuables from the area while dodging and shooting an endless horde of cops and special enemies. These missions typically have you defend key areas in your heist while waiting for an objective to complete, whether that be drilling a into stubborn vault or waiting for your 80's-styled escape van to arrive.

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Stealth missions are, as you would expect, the polar opposite – rewarding careful planning, positioning, coordination and a bit of luck with huge payoffs. These missions tend to favour cautious and thoughtful movement; slinking around guards, cameras, lasers and civilians alike while you and your crew try to silently secure your extra payday. One alarmed tripped, or a misplaced body can spell the end of your contract though, so don't be surprised if you get sweaty palms.

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Outside of missions, you can spend your ill-gotten gains on a variety of items – the majority of which are guns. Lots. And lots. Of guns. Over 50 different ones, in fact.

Overkill seems to know its audience – who doesn't like pretending they're Rambo while running off with hundreds of thousands of dollars? And to feed that, the developers have spent a lot of time and effort into making gunplay feel sharp and realistic; from the beefy, explosive reports of LMGs, to the soft sputtering of silenced SMGs, all of which can be tailored to suit you – and your crew's – needs.

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Of course, you can change some aesthetics of your chosen heister too – customizable masks to hide your true face behind a gruesome, cool, or hilarious visage – as well as which heister you wish to use, totaling 8 unique characters with the release of The Bomb Heists DLC,. Each character has their own unique voice lines, reacting rather realistically as the heist plays out, even responding to how well or badly the crew performs tasks.

Next is the RPG-like Skill system. As you complete heists, your heister gains experience – the more difficult the heist, the more experience (and obviously, more money) they stand to gain. Fail a heist, and you lose a substantial amount of EXP you could've gotten, as well as any cash or loot you acquired. Once you have reached a certain amount of total EXP, you will level up, granting you one skill point per level, and three for everything tenth level, up to the level cap of 100.

These skill points, along with some of your money, are used to increase your heister's abilities beyond the norm, and even give them huge advantages in certain situations. With 5 skill trees to invest in, with increasing skill point costs as you work your way up, you will find your heister becoming more adapt at taking on tougher heists. Fortunately for the indecisive of us, you can also have up to 4 of these skill builds prepared to swap outside of the lobby, at the extra expense of in-game money.

Like most other games these days, PAYDAY 2 also offers a lot of content via download – new heists, weapons, heisters, masks, achievements and an assortment of other goodies. With prices varying from $5-$8 a DLC, and a total of 14 different DLCs available, a lot of people may be turned off by the huge amount of locked content. Which is understandably so, with the quality and quantity of DLC ranging from cheap to ridiculously overpriced – even charging players to have access to hand grenades.

However, Overkill has made sure to keep any gameplay-changing content within the realms of balance, making heists just as easy for someone who's only bought the base game as it is for someone's who's bought all the bells and whistles. On top of this, DLC-only heists are available for everyone to play, so long as someone else who does own it hosts the lobby.

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If you liked cooperative shooters like Left 4 Dead, or ever wanted to be a professional robber, then this is the game for you.

Written by Cyadox on 2015-01-23 00:09:35

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