Do you remember when you were child and you played cops and robbers with your friends? If you were like me you were always the robber. (That’s right, I’m an antagonist, holding kids hostage and all. Don’t judge me) Overkill Software allows gamers to recapture that “robbers” experience from a first person perspective through the eyes of one of the four protagonists in their latest title for the PlayStation 3 and PC. (I’m not sure if they are considered protagonists or antagonists to be honest… I guess it’s kind of a glass half empty or half full question on their disposition) Payday: The Heist hopes to break into every gamer’s PS3 and provide them with an intense heist simulation action. Does it succeed in its goal? Continue reading this review to find out.
Payday: The Heist only provides gamers with 2 modes; single player and co-op.
There are a total of 6 heists for you to play and each of them can take upwards to 30 minutes to complete, especially when you are playing by yourself. There are 4 difficulties for you to choose from: easy, normal, hard and overkill. You can really feel the difference in the game difficulty levels as the opposing forces (the police, FBI, etc.) become tougher and hit you hard when they shoot you.
The multiplayer co-op has the exact same 6 heists and it also allows you to adjust the difficulty setting.
The multiplayer co-op is pretty much what you would expect from any other team based online game. You can experience the same problems such as horrible team mates and lag. (Although, I haven’t experienced either very often) Paydays is nowhere near as riddled with these issues as some other games and please keep in mind this fact, at the time of reviewing this game I am rocking a DSL connection.
(Gameplay & AI)
The best description possible for this game is to say is to take the mission from GTA 4 where you rob a bank and graft it into the co-op style of Left 4 Dead. That pretty much describes the whole game. Although banks are not your only target in the game, there are other targets such as a drug dealer’s den and hitting up an armored car. There is a very expansive skill tree for those three playing styles that you can switch between at any point in the game. Those three styles are: Assault, Sharpshooter and Support. Each playing style has its own perks. Some of them are automatically applied to your character while others will have you select between them. Such as the type of weapons you are carrying. Every perk and weapon will unlock gradually as you increase your reputation.
By my count, there are a total of 10 weapons that you can have as you progress through the game and level up. You also have the crew bonus perks that affect everyone in your team such as the Mr. Nice Guy perk or the Noob Lube perk. My biggest beef with this system is that the game does not educate you on how the system is designed, so it can easily become confusing at first, but as you progress through the game you may figure it out.
Your AI partners are there for one thing and for one thing only: to be your support and too shoot any threat to the mission. They will not help you accomplish objectives as some people were apparently expecting, this is a positive to the game as it extends the mission’s play time and keeps you running and on your feet. I cannot fathom why anyone would want the AI to help you do missions, that would just take away all of the fun. They would be running circles around you completing goals while you are trying to figure out what you can do that they will not do.
Personally, I prefer that they shoot at every law enforcer that has their sights trained on me. When you or another partner is down, they try their best to rush over to help you up. There have been times that I had to yell at them by putting them in my cross hairs and suppress the R2 button to get their attention, but that isn’t very often and when it has happened, they were in a firefight in another area of the building. There has been times that I have needed to go to the bathroom and I would back myself into a corner and the AI would protect me from the law successfully. You are probably thinking: “Well, why don’t you just “pause” the game?” There is no pause to the game what-so-ever, you can bring up your XMB and the action is still going on. This isn’t a flaw to the simulation… Because the last time that I checked, life does not have a pause button. (If there is a pause in real life, someone please tell me how to use it!)
That’s not to say that the AI partners don’t do some weird stuff. I’ve seen them climb the fire escape of the drug dealers den to the top roof and then climb over the guard rail to drop down to the floors below and continue doing so until they reach the ground, and then start up again until I move away from the fire escape. The enemy AI is pretty much the same as your partners AI. They are hell bent on stopping you from completing your heist whether they kill you or cuff you. You have a decent variety of law enforcers that are going to try to take you down from the typical boys in blue, police officers to FBI agents. But it doesn’t stop there. They will also send in what is referred to as “Special Forces”, these guys are not something to be taken lightly. The first one you will meet is a Bulldozer, a very heavily armed shotgun toting menace that would rather blow your head off than to cuff you. That’s just a small example of the menacing Special Forces that will be waiting for you.
(Sound & Visuals)
Some of the voice acting in the game is not so great, some of the characters sound like they are forcing out an English accent and in the process it just sounds cheesy. The sound effects from the gunfire and other environmental elements are reasonable. However there is no discernable difference between shooting your automatic rifle outside of the bank and shooting it inside of the vault. Either way, your weapons and any other devices or voices sound exactly alike regardless of the situation. In terms of graphics, when you are not playing the game and you are in the menu, the 4 main characters appear to be made up of CGI. When you play the game however, much of it makes it look like a Playstation 2 FPS. It just does not have the same or even remotely similar textures we see from many games today, retail or downloadable. I would have gotten past the somewhat dated graphics or the game had there been destructible objects in the game other than glass windows. If I’m shooting at a computer monitor, I expect the screen to be destroyed at least.
In addition to the dated graphics, there is a frame rate/clipping issue that shows its face when there are too many people on the screen at the same time. When I first saw this, there was a small group of helicopters hovering near my team’s location and in a matter of seconds four Special Forces members repelled from them to the ground. The moment all of them reached the ground is when the frame rate dropped a little. But it does not make the game unplayable at all; it seems to affect the law enforcers more than it affects the player. So you can still continue to gingerly mow down every law enforcer that gets in your way.
(Conclusion & Thoughts)
At first look the trophy list looks somewhat easy. But be forewarned, there are some pretty tough trophies in that list. Easy street is a good example: Beat “Heat Street” on “OVERKILL” difficulty, with your group’s accuracy being at 60% or higher. So the platinum trophy is not very easy to earn if that’s what you are looking for, however that does not mean that it isn’t fun trying to get some of these trophies.
Unfortunately the lack of game modes and the limited number of missions is this game’s biggest draw-back. Had there been a few more missions such as a museum heist or the mother of all heists: the Federal Reserve… had there have been more co-op specific goals such as an alarm needs to be disarmed by disengaging 4 security switches at the same time, all located in different areas… had there have been competitive co-op missions either pitting 2 against 2 or 4 against 4 to beat the opposing team to the jewels or whatever the target is and thwart their progress at the same time, or even putting a team as a group of law enforcers-with additions such as these have been added it would have made this game an even better one. With that said, I highly recommend this game. It’s endless replay value and fun missions make it worth the price. With that said, for 20 buck, it’s like finding an older classic FPS game in the bargain bin at your local game store.
I sincerely hope we see some DLC for Payday: The Heist from Overkill in the near future, this is one game that I would like to see supported so it can blossom into something special.
4 out of 5
If you own a PS3 (Why wouldn’t you own one at this point?) this is a PSN must buy
Endless co-op fun and replayability
Challenging trophy set
Challenging enemy AI
Growing online community
Only 6 missions and no co-op specific missions and objectives