Payday 2

PS3, Xbox 360, PC
Developed by: Overkill Software
By Matt Ross
Sep 05, 2013

Sure, hollywood makes robbing a bank look easy, but Payday 2 (the sequel to 2011’s Payday: The Heist) gives gamers the chance to see how they’d fare when the alarms go off and the cops are on the way. As part of a four-man crew, Payday 2 offers players the chance to take on a series of contracts, from simple jewelry store hits to more complex, multi-stage jobs. Planning and preparation are key, especially when you move beyond simply storming a target, grabbing what you want and hitting the road. The game offers a class-based skill tree, allowing you to bump up your proficiency in safe-cracking, computer-hacking, stealth and a number of other areas. It’s the same with equipment. More loot will allow you to invest in greater firepower and fancier gizmos, all of which can make your life a lot easier when civilians start screaming and the bullets start to fly.

But your greatest advantage comes from your fellow robbers. While you can play Payday 2 alone, backed up by computer-controlled henchmen, the game is best enjoyed in online co-op. You’ll need all of your living, breathing associates to be at the top of their game, as Payday 2 can be remarkably unforgiving. And, to give the game its dues, this is an experience best enjoyed with real teammates. AI backup is less responsive, and less predictable than human partners, and single-player can be a frustrating enterprise.

But, conversely, online play can also be somewhat irritating. Dropped connections can really ruin a smoothly run heist, as can the pauses when a new player joins mid-mission. You’ll need real people to get the most out of Payday 2, but don’t be surprised if connection issues make you yearn for a bit of solitude.

That aside, the game is decent. It’s nothing remarkable to look at – there are a few woeful textures dotted about – but it plays well, and controls much like a first-person title should. It’s a fun concept too, which makes (almost) all the frustrations worth putting up with.

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