The Stuff you need to know:
There’s something about a perfect heist that is viscerally satisfying. Some of the greatest films of our time are heist stories – Reservoir Dogs, Heat, and The Usual Suspects. Maybe it’s the thrill of casting off the shackles of society and organized behavior. Maybe it’s the anti-establishment gene within us, the part that says society’s rules are meant to be broken. Whatever the reason may be, the idea of participating in a heist appeals to some primal part of us. In Payday 2: Crimewave Edition, you can live out your fantasies without the repercussions. You can be part of a heist crew and pull off elaborate jobs without having to spend a large part of your life in a maximum security prison.
This updated edition for the PS4 allows you to play through all of the heists that are available in the PS3 edition along with a few that were PC-exclusive up to this point. Through CRIME.NET, which is the game’s version of a mission selection screen, you can try your hand at executing heists which range from a simple run-and-gun robbery to more elaborate and complex targets. You can team up with up to three players to try your hand at being a master criminal.
The Game Play:
Payday 2 is basically a more elaborate co-op shooter. As is the case with most co-op games, the best experience you can have is when you’re teaming up with other humans. The AI here is barely passable. When you’re working with a team, you have the option to approach the same heist from multiple angles. Several mission variables, such as the positions of guards, cameras, alarms and even the vaults themselves switch around when you replay the mission. This gives each playthrough a distinct sense of newness, since you never know quite what to expect. You could reach the vault in one run and be foiled right at the gates in another.
If you’re decently skilled, you’ll be able to pull off a majority of the missions without alerting any authorities. When you complete a heist without having to fire a bullet, it’s a thrill. You’ll also have the occasional run-in with unforeseen circumstances, as things don’t go according to plan all the time. You’ll have civilians trying to play hero, security cameras which catch you in the act, and other complications to deal with. What makes the proceedings harder is that Payday 2 doesn’t really feature much in the way of a tutorial. You’ll have to learn how things work as you go along, which means you’ll have a lot of failed heists, especially when you’re starting up. Other times, gameplay glitches or bugs will foil your mission.
When things go wrong, there’s still a lot of fun to be had. Inevitably, you’ll have to shoot your way out through a bunch of cops if you want to rake in the moolah. Whether you’re robbing a bank, a mall or even cooking some meth Walter White style, you have to be patient. When you ramp up the difficulty, you’ll have to be extremely careful with your strategy. An itchy trigger finger could bring a SWAT team down upon your head, and you won’t live too long after.
When you’re engaged in a Michael Mann-esque shootout with dozens of enemies, the game can be quite stressful. Thankfully, the game allows you to catch your breath between these firefights so you can think about what you’re going to do next. As is (probably) the case with actual heists, sometimes greed will get in your way. There’s almost always more loot than you can carry away in one go, and the temptation to brave the mob for that little extra cash can be tempting. Very often, these decisions can leave you full of lead, or in handcuffs. Choose wisely.
If you fail a mission, you won’t gain any experience or money. As a result, you won’t be able to upgrade your character or buy a better weapon. When you’re foiled at the home stretch of a particularly long and tedious mission, it can be extremely frustrating. Since this is a co-op shooter, you’ll have to rely on the skill and decision-making ability of your teammates to ensure success. There are very few things worse than finding a squadron of cops descend upon you because one of your teammates couldn’t stop himself from shooting a civilian. When you do complete heists successfully, you’ll be able to upgrade your character in any one of five skill trees. At each level, you have to choose between spending points in Enforcer, Technician, Ghost, Mastermind or Fugitive. Since you can spend points in different skill trees, you have the option to create your perfect criminal blend. The money you earn can be spent on better weapons, most of which are very expensive. You can also modify your existing weaponry with add-ons such as a silencer or a scope. And of course, you have the ability to customize your masks, so you can turn into the coolest looking robber of all time.
The PS4 version of Payday 2 has received a nice graphical overhaul and is now playable in full 1080p. The frame rate is also better this time around, even if the graphics are still dated. The game delivers in spades in the production value department, however. The soundtrack and the level design are uniformly excellent. Despite some minor issues, Payday 2: Crimewave Edition offers you the unique opportunity to pull off a co-op heist. If you haven’t heard of this game before or you were waiting to pick it up, this is the best version you can get your hands on.
Game Review Score: 7.1 Out Of 10