Review: Payday: The Heist

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Robbing banks, taking hostages, and making diamond heists. What could go wrong?…More than you think.

When first revealed a while back, Payday: The Heist was a fantastic concept to me. Robbing banks and generally being a criminal with four friends sounded like a dream come true and a fun one at that. However, the game I got my hands on wasn’t quite as much fun as I would have hoped.

Payday is a co-operative first person shooter that takes place between 6 different missions.  Those missions can be played with up to 4 human players online or up to 3 bots offline with the option of having a player/bot mix online. There are upgrades which are somewhat similar to, say, Call of Duty that become unlocked through leveling. There are a total of 140 levels and it doesn’t take much time to level up if you’re a skilled player. Although the 3 separate skill trees will not be apparent to you off the bat as they’re never really explained. During your leveling up, you’ll unlock different upgrades, items, weapons, and even bonuses. These unlocks all depend on which of the 3 skill trees you choose. Generally, these trees give you the ability to become a great team with each person having a different specialty, which is a welcome part of the game.

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A large variety of weapons doesn’t help this game.

Payday’s presentation is somewhat lacking in many areas. The menu is very sub-standard for the matchmaking portion of online multiplayer, which is a great cause for concern. It took over 2 weeks for a patch from Overkill to arrive to make it so there’s a decent chance of getting into a game with any players, which is absolutely unacceptable as that’s when it was at its best.

There are some good aspects to the presentation though, such as the colourful missions and teammate indicators that were reminiscent of Left 4 Dead and in essence, that is what Payday reminds me of as a whole. However, going back into the negatives – the audio. In my opinion, the voice-overs were terribly lacklustre. Thanks to the voice-overs, I felt that the game itself became exceptionally repetitive and monotonous.

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Diamond Heist – Stealth is a must unless you feel like shooting down endless waves of cops.

Payday has some good and bad gameplay elements. I found it to be a lot of fun to complete all of the objectives with friends or even people online who understand what they’re doing, but when you’re stuck on single player or with a bad team who play only for themselves, it can frustrate you like no other. This is simply a case where playing with friends is almost a must. The objectives will keep you busy for a short while, but completing these objectives with your pals will make for a much more enjoyable experience overall.

The shooting isn’t very accurate. I honestly felt as though I shot a lot of enemies without ever really aiming accurately at them. The objectives are essentially an R2 fest, holding R2 down until your meter is complete. This gets old very quickly. This action is used throughout the game for a range of functions – From setting objectives to picking up ammo. The variety throughout the levels combats this a little, but after about an hour you’ll be looking for something more interesting to play.

Maybe I’m not being entirely fair to this new IP but, there’s just so many things that were flawed with this game that I can’t honestly say I enjoyed many things about it. It was a fair attempt at best from Overkill to create something different, but I can’t help but feel that they just copied and pasted the better elements from many other hit games in hopes of creating a good formula. It didn’t work. I already mentioned Call of Duty and Left 4 Dead in this article and that’s exactly what this game felt like to me, a very poor attempt to mesh those two games with the interesting idea of being a criminal on the loose, heisting.

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The environments are quite detailed in Payday, too bad the shooting mechanics leave more to be desired.

There’s a lot more that needs to be ironed out within this game for me to even consider coming back to it and making another attempt. How about some different scenarios for regular levels? More levels themselves would be nice. Less clipping which the patch has seemingly to me, helped with, but has not eliminated the issue. A cop should not appear directly in front of me, which seemed absurd.

The audio can do with a nice overhaul. Some more lines for characters during heists has definitely made its way onto my wish list. Worst of all is the online portion which desperately needs a matchmaking option for difficulty, scenario and same player level as a level 10 is barely ever able to get into a game with a level 70 as I’ve seen dozens of times. The low level player always finds themselves kicked from the gamer server. This really needs to be taken into consideration and actioned upon when the next lot of fixes arrive. If they arrive.

To be fair, Payday: The Heist is mildly fun in short play-through’s but, needs friends and a lot more polishing to make it a better overall experience. The graphics were decent, the variety of enemies was great, the environments were nicely detailed (including Vaio laptops), and the leveling system was excellent. Overkill made a great effort, but despite the good that this game has, the negatives by far outweigh the positives and I honestly cannot recommend this game even at a $20 price point.

For more information on how we review games check out our criteria here. A copy of this game was provided to The Paranoid Gamer by the publisher for review purposes.