“For such a simple premise, Payday 2 delivers a deep punch.”
There’s a reason heist movies have their own genre. After all, sometimes it’s just more fun to play the bad guy. In Overkill’s Payday 2, you get to do just that and then some. For a game with such a simple premise, Payday 2 delivers a surprisingly deep punch thanks to an RPG-style progression, customizable skill trees, and class system. You’re not just four thieves in masks. You can be an intimidating Enforcer, a tech-savvy Technician, a stealthy Ghost, or a smooth-talking Mastermind. You can even be a jack of trades who brings a mix of abilities to the table.
The game’s depth extends to how jobs play out: the outcomes of two similar jobs may vary wildly from one another. Every job is a constant reminder of Murphy’s Law: Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong. One mistake during a heist can lead to a horde of cops knocking down the door even before your crew manages to get their hands on a dime. There is most definitely a constant element of tension that permeates all throughout the game. Even a well-prepared crew can still run into a few ugly bumps on the way to the big score. Fortunately, savvy operators still have a chance to salvage an op that’s gone balls up. Getaway driver got arrested? Don’t give up just yet.
There are multiple ways to successfully finish a heist. One thing that is noticeably missing from Payday 2 is a way to unwind in between looking for jobs on Crime.Net, the game’s own job board. A poker mini-game would have been nice, especially a multiplayer one. The developing team could have infused items or taken a few cues from Red Dead Redemption and made cheating a part of the game. The game does have a poker-related achievement, though. For those who haven’t found it yet, it can be acquired during the Nightclub job. The achievement involves dumping a bag of cash on a poker table, which almost comes close to Betfair Poker’s list of biggest non-WSOP wins.
There have been a few calls from the Steam community for the addition of a poker component, but so far neither Overkill nor publisher 505 Games have said anything regarding the topic. Graphics-wise, Payday 2 is nothing to write home about. The street-level environments are beautifully designed and lit, but the graphical fidelity of the game’s indoor sets leaves much to be desired. The game’s limited number of civilian models can also make it feel like you’re just robbing the same people over and over again. Some clipping issues also exist. You can play Payday 2 solo, but the game really shines when you stick to the core four-player co-op gameplay. For our final verdict, Payday 2 gets a score of 9.