Payday 2 is the follow up to Overkill's 2011 bank heist shoot-em-up Payday: The Heist. Payday 2 aims to improve on what was already a fun multiplayer experience. While they succeed for the most part, there are other areas that fall weak in Payday 2, but not weak enough to stop it being a surprisingly fun experience when played with real people.
Payday 2 is a co-operative game, and for that reason it's essential you only play with human players to get the best out of it. Upon launching the game and entering the Crime.net interface you are given the option to either play online with real players or offline with A.I companions. It's nice to have this choice, but unfortunately the offline mode is completely useless due to the fact that the A.I can't even interact with any of the necessary objectives needed to pull off a clean job.
Once you establish that you're better off playing this game with others, you can really begin to have some fun. The idea of this game is to team up with three others and complete professional heists. How you approach these heists is completely up to you, and depends on how advanced your skills are. Most heists will end in gunfire, with cops and swat teams swarming in to bust your squad. However, unlike it's predecessor Payday 2 gives you the option to complete heists without police being alerted at all. Which is worth investing the time into, as it's very rewarding.
The downside to this is that it will take you a lot of time to unlock all the tools and upgrades you need to pull off the perfect heist. This is due to the fact that most the money you make from a job is deposited to your offshore account, and you only actually receive a small fraction of this money to spend. And because you can't make withdrawals from your offshore account you'll have to grind for hours to unlock better guns, mods (such as silencers), and armour. You'll likely to be broke for your characters first 10 levels of development, unless you're ballsy enough to take on the harder jobs. This is slightly annoying as one of the neatest features is customizing your masks, which turns out to be quite costly.
The variety of missions has improved since last time, and each mission has different day variations which expand the scope of the job. The great part is that the interior layout of the vicinity will also change each time. So you'll still have to learn the layout when repeating missions. You can also invest money into missions by buying Intel to help your team. There's even options to switch up your equipment to help you prepare for obstacles, such as security cameras and vaults with multiple layers of security. Upgrading the different classes will provide you with perks that help assist with long enduring missions. You'll be able to unlock useful items to keep you going such as ammo packs and medic kits. As missions run on longer and longer you'll find that your resources are drained, so planning ahead with your team is essential.
There are parts of Payday 2 that look pretty damn good, however the visuals are inconsistent as you'll notice that interior textures are dull and bland compared to the exterior. I can understand the need to sacrifice visual quality to increase performance in a game that's built entirely for multiplayer. But it's 2013 and we've seen other games pull off better textures with higher latency challenges than Payday 2 has.
A nice touch in Payday 2 is the soundtrack. The music changes to match the current activity in game. When being stealthy the music is calm, when you're in danger of being spotted it gets slightly more intense. Once you're in a full on shootout it amps up to reflect the chaos. Most multiplayer games don't have music worth speaking on, but Payday 2's background music adds to the experience.
For fans of the first game, Payday 2 is more than worth it. They've added a ton of new upgrades, skills and mission types that expand the longevity of the game. For those unfamiliar with Payday, this game is certainly worth trying out if you enjoy multiplayer first-person shooter games. Payday 2 is a solid game that doesn't even attempt to reinvent the wheel. Instead it aims to add onto existing concepts to deliver a fun experience that will steal hours of your life without you even realizing.
Is it the best game on the market? - No. It suffers from poor A.I, bad textures and low reward in its early stages. Is it a fun game? - Yes. The objectives will keep you engaged to the point you forget you're even playing a game. It's so enjoyable that I couldn't dislike it even when analyzing it thoroughly for faults. For that reason alone Payday 2 is worth playing, especially given the fact that it's released at a time where it doesn't have stiff competition on the market. Just make sure you have people to play with if you want to get the best out of it. Be sure to take a look at my gameplay video above to get a better idea of what the game plays like.