Payday 2 Review: Everybody Be Cool, This is a Robbery!
“Nooo!” is the PG-version of the exclamation I’ve used countless times in Payday 2. The crime caper shooter is teeming with tense gun battles, and falling under a hail of bullets -– often when you’re just a handful of steps from your getaway van and the promise of a glorious payday -– is agonizing.
What’s even more painful, though, is the game crashing two days into a three-day job or getting booted from the server after a successful heist and before you actually receive your hard-earned cash, XP, and loot reward. It’s happened more times than I can count in my 20-plus hours with Payday 2, and it’s during those moments that I break out the R-rated language.
Payday 2 is a terrific rush and, in many ways, the very best version of “horde” mode that’s yet been devised. It’s also buggier than the underside of a rock. Along with the multiple full-on crashes to desktop and all-too frequent connection issues, I’ve been stuck on geometry, seen crew-members locked in a strange, zombie-like state where they can’t be revived but also won’t die, watched as a dozen cops suddenly became catatonic, picked a lock to a door that swung open and pinned me against a wall, seen cops magically teleport through walls, wondered why my AI crewmates refuse to shoot the cop standing right next to them, and laughed as friends and foes alike defied physics, tumbling around the map in hilarious ragdoll death throes.
Yes, developer Overkill Software has a ton of patching to do. The good news is, in the face of all those issues and the many curses they’ve elicited, I still can’t stop playing Payday 2.
Payday 2 (2013): PC (reviewed), Xbox 360, PS3
Developer: Overkill Software
Publisher: 505 Games
Released: AUg. 13, 2013
The simple idea Overkill introduced with 2011’s Payday: The Heist — horde mode blended into a bank robbery — is now fully fleshed out. Characters, weapons, and even those unforgettable masks can now be deeply customized. You’re no longer simply playing one of four characters — Wolf, Hoxton, Dallas, or Chains — and selecting a basic core specialty and taking a few jobs, you’re making that character, in appearance and play style, your own and setting out on a full-blown crime career.
What will it be: Enforcer, Ghost, Mastermind or Technician? Each class now has their own sizable skill tree, and within them, 19 different abilities and buffs to unlock that can have a huge impact on how a mission is played. Most notably in the “new” department, the Ghost. Overkill invites players to complete, or at least attempt to complete, a number of jobs with savvy rather than brute force. The Ghost skill tree, with its core Electronic Counter Measure Jammer and various buffs to make guards less suspicious, is essential if you want to be the type of career criminal known for his brains rather than his body count. Still, going the stealth route isn’t easy, and I often found myself tripping alarms and alerting guards even when I was proceeding with extreme caution. That’s why I felt relieved to discover I could completely respec my character and add skill points into and across any trees I desired — that is, if I could afford it.
You don’t just need skill points, earned by leveling up, to unlock new abilities, there is also a hefty dollar charge attached to every skill. I discovered just how expensive things can get when I decided to respec my level 18 character. All that ill-gotten money I invested in my first Ghost-centric build was gone, and I was completely cleaned out by the time I finished building my balanced hybrid criminal. Friendly advice: Check out all of the skills in each tree and plan your build ahead of time. You’ll wind up saving a fortune.