by Kiran Sury
reviewed on PS3
This Ain’t no Bank Robbery!
I always wanted to be the bad guy growing up - the robber in Cops and Robbers or the Indian in Cowboys and Indians (then again, being of Indian descent, I may have been typecast). Playing the villain is just more exciting; you can eschew all the rules and take what you want at will. Most games, however, cast you in the heroic role. Even when you play as a character that kills with abandon, he’s an anti-hero, and the enemies deserve it. Team Overkill has had enough of that – it’s time to kill some cops. Not because they’re corrupt, not because they’ve all turned into zombies and you need to save the world; just because they’re standing in the way of you and boatload of cash.
Payday: The Heist lets you don a mask and be the bad guy with three friends. You work together for a series of jobs ranging from a prisoner extraction to a diamond heist and always on the wrong side of the law.
Shooting Through Slats
The game offers a variety of heists but only partially succeeds in making it feel like a deep game. All six levels follow the same basic pattern: you start the heist by slaughtering everyone in the vicinity, then set up some apparatus, whether it be a drill to open a vault or a drill to open a panic room or a drill to open a cell door… you use a lot of drills. Next up is an assault section, with a seemingly never-ending wave of enemies that only ceases when the drills finish their work. Once done, you’re ready to move on to the next objective, do something similar and finally make your escape. The game mixes up enemy types and entry points on repeated playthroughs, but falls short of its claim of a truly novel experience every time.
Along the way, you’ll have to be on the lookout for strategically advantageous places to defend from. A nifty little detail is that you can shoot through the slats of a fire escape, showing that the designers opted for in-game objects, rather than an impermeable wall with a railing texture, which would have been easier but so much less fun.
Heist films are so awesome because of the tension that builds up as the team sets up the heist and the chaos that ensues when nothing goes as planned. Payday: The Heist loses its ability to build up that same tension rather quickly because of the set pattern described above and by not offering enough freedom to the player to push the action in a different direction. When you enter a bank, you can walk around to scope out the level but you can’t actually do anything with it. You can’t lure the guards away and pack their bodies in a closet, you can’t tie-up the manager in his office, and you can’t do anything creative to really tip the odds in your favor. You can only start the heist and play it out. Playing out heists is still enjoyable, but the ability to stray off the beaten path would add to the unpredictable nature inherent to all crimes.
You can imagine that after a few sessions, gameplay won’t feel overly original. The fun comes from doing it all with your friends and working together as a team. Equipment for opening doors and vaults often jams, forcing players to split up and have one group cover the entrances while the other keeps the machines working.
Three upgrade trees also add spice to the gameplay. When you start a level you must choose between the Assault, Sharpshooter and Support specialties, each with its own unique weapon unlocks and upgrades. If you want a medical bag to refill your health during tough assault waves, you should pick Support. Or you could go all-out assault with an automatic shotgun and let your teammates watch your back. Deciding what side items, like hostage wrist-ties or trip mines, to bring with your team adds some strategy to the levels. Furthermore, experience gained in one class stays in that class, so it’ll take some time to upgrade everything and really see what Payday has to offer.
One of the better co-op games on the PSN.
Sometimes difficult to find a multiplayer game, feels like a co-op game with a heist skin, rather than a heist game.