Friday, 4 April 2014

Payday 2 Review

Payday: The Heist was a great game, and now it has a great followup. The four criminals are back in a guns-blazing mask-wearing cable-tying great game, possibly one of the best games of 2013. And it won the E3 of 2013, but mainly for a good reason. Yet, there are some weaknesses to the new game.

Lets start with the masks. You have the classic masks, but can also unlock masks and customize them. There is nothing stopping your creativity but cost, making it possible to create awesome looking masks with infero as the material and the dragon tattoo on the "Perfect Stranger" mask. The system is really nice, and the stuff you get for masks after a heist makes it feel worth it if you wanna look like a pro (It worked in TF2 so shut up :P). But this can also be for weapons. In Payday 2 you can buy stocks, modifications, suppressors, and so on for yourself making you either rambo or the silent thief. In the words of Dennis from Far Cry 3: "One gun won't get you very far." Thus, buying guns doesn't feel a pain - it feels like you get something out of it.

For those that care, the graphics are okay I guess. Some places have poorly rendered text along with basic walls and lines on things that should have detail, with a constant mixed between highly rendered to poorly rendered, and much detail to little detail. But, they aren't all terrible. The lighting is very well done when the sun shines upon you from outside, and the smash effects on half-broken glass is impressive. Sound is also good for the most part, but there has been once or twice when I've encountered a random audio spike in the middle of a game.

So how fun and well-made are these missions? Well, each one is a hit or miss. Some missions, like the simple Bank Heist and Watchdogs are fun to play and well designed, but Mallcrasher is vague on showing what you can vandalise or not. For what I know, you can vandalise laptops, headphones, jewelry, glass and so on, but there are a surprising amount of shops that cannot be destroyed aside from the machine on the counter - and its not even obvious if that one counts. If you could destroy the glass or pop the wheels on the car on the top floor, the mission would be easier. And maybe a little pricetag on the items would be helpful, because your only indication of the amount destroyed comes from the microphone which isn't constant.

Mainly, the AI is frustrating. They act as meat shields and help you up, but will randomly stop shooting, stand around, get in the way and run away from the van. What really sucks is they can't pick up bags, but at least they cover you. They can't throw down Doctor Bags, so its up to you. They are accurate and helpful, but can't do a lot of things like carry, restart drills, interact with things excluding civilians, etc. Don't expect anything great out of the Ai, but they're at least standable.

The skill tree is great. You can choose it to fit your style, and it doesn't force you to be the same type of stealth guy or gun guy that you were. One minute you're the mastermind, the next minute the ghost. But you only get skill points every few levels, which is hard to cope with.

The enemies are well designed. They all have weaknesses, and fit their personalities - mall cops are weak, SWAT members with shields take some damage to kill. It all works out perfectly. Yet, maybe this is just personal, but I think they can down you too easily on the smallest difficulty. Yes, I know Payday 2 is a team-based game, but when you're alone grabbing the last bag of coke/jewelry/money, a group of only 3 can incap you in seconds when you're on half health or less. But if you work as a team, they're easy enough to kill. It needs a difficulty tone down though. Another annoying thing about them is that civilians run past them, whilst you're shooting them, so the civilians get killed before you even NOTICE THEM. If the civilian AI was smarter it'd be great, since it also takes 5 tries to get them to get down after making a shocked fish mouth and dancing with their hands up for 7 hours.

The music is awesome. It's fast paced and fits well, getting faster and more action-packed as the heist does too. It all comes together great and I love it. But you will hear it alot if you're trying to get a noob into the van who is just standing there. If you can get away with the AI being out the van, why can't you get away with the majority of the robbers in the van? Or have a vote to kick during the game instead of in the planning phase?

I know this seems like a negative review, but Payday 2 has a certain charm to it. Something that makes you look past these faults. However, faults are faults, even if I do enjoy a bit of Watchdog or Nightclub every now and then.

Fun - 9. Its fast paced and despite minor faults, it still keeps you entertained and full of adrenaline.
Level Design - 6. Its really hit or miss when it comes to this.
Sound and Graphics - 7. Graphics can be disappointing to some, but the sound is generally fine.
Writing - 8. Whilst there's not a lot of it the voice acting is done well. Oh yeah, the thermal drill. The thermal drill. Go get. My. Thermal. Drill.
Control - 7. Its easy to learn and simple.

OVERALL RATING: 7/10, aka 3.5 stars.

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