PAYDAY: The Heist looks to add a new take on the FPS co-op genre. No zombies here, just guns and money!
I believe Danny Glover said it best in Predator 2: “We have a new player in town.” Among my list of titles to demo at this year’s San Diego Comic Con was Overkill Software’s PAYDAY: The Heist. Adopting a similar model to Valve’s survivor horror, L4D, PD:TH takes the same 4 player co-op experience, but rides a completely different wave. Here you’re tasked with robbing banks and hijacking, to double crossing drug dealers and it totally works.
Our demo begins outside of the target bank. I had complete control as to when I could start the heist. On hand to assist me through this scenario was game director, Ulf Andersson. During my walk through of the facility, Ulf explains that this is my opportunity to recon. Here you note where cameras and security guards are placed; the location of exits and of course, the vault. Gathering this information increases my team’s chance of success. Once my strategy is set, I can locate the bank manager and begin the robbery. Depending on where you are and how you time the heist all affects how the robbery plays out. This means guard reactions, how civilians are handled, and most importantly, how the police strategize to counter your efforts. Timing is everything.
NOBODY MOVE! THIS IS A STICK-UP!
Here you command the manager to give you the storage key. Meanwhile my AI teammates assist in the usual elements involved in a heist: Crowd control, camera dismantling, and taking out guards. From here you must gather your equipment and begin drilling through a large door in order to reach the vault. Think of a much more expansive/interactive Point Break scenario.
There are several phases of the robbery that take time, such as drilling, using thermite to melt the floor above the vault, etc. While these tasks are being completed is when things tend to heat up. Police will throw everything in their disposal at you. You’ll see tear gas, smoke grenades, swat rappeling from skylights, even police rolling in with riot shields. I would guess every badge in the city has been sent to thwart your heist. You face that many boys in blue and these cops all pack heavy duty hardware like you. My advice: Keep shooting.
In the event that you or one of your teammates is apprehended, you must barter their release with hostages. You only have 2 opportunities to use this feature so choose your prisoners carefully.
My playthrough ended during the thermite portion of the heist. I was overwhelmed by the police and eventually captured. Your AI squad-mates unfortunately don’t provide the same assistance that a human player would; the real fun begins when you have 3 buddies to rob with. This game is multiplayer based, making cooperative play the ideal the experience to have.
Given the way the game is setup, it would seem fairly easy to simply memorize where everything is, thus allowing things to get old fast. In order to balance this out, Overkill uses a unique function where cameras, guards and even bank managers are never in the same place. This keep things fresh and adds longevity to game, which is welcomed. Also included is player progression; earning experience levels you up. Early on you get to choose what your specialty is; this can be either support, sharpshooter or assault. As your character develops, you’ll gain perks such as better weapons, hostage tie-ups, and you can even increase the amount of guns you carry. The game is setup so you can level up in game, so if your next perk is a weapon, that item will appear instantly. The system is pretty sweet and gives much incentive for multiple play-throughs.
PAYDAY: The Heist runs and plays smooth. It’s fun, challenging and frantic without bending too many rules of the real world. Being a bad-guy never felt better and considering the dynamic replay value and 6 different scenarios including a diamond heist and a Die Hard: Nakatomi Plaza inspired robbery, there is a lot to look forward to with this title. My only complaint (which is minor) is that, as a single player experience the game falls short, but in all fairness, PD:TH is designed to played with friends. The more, the merrier.
Unfortunately there is no versus mode in PAYDAY:The Heist. Sorry guys, no cops and robbers. But when asked if a competitive mode is being considered as DLC down the road, Andersson replied, “We’re definitely considering it for a sequel.” In addition to this, DLC is currently being developed so expanding the experience is a goal already in the works. While Andersson couldn’t give me an exact release date, he did say it was coming this year. Wait we shall not.
Be prepared to throw down some time this year on PSN and PC, including Steam. Looks like Special Agent Utah has his work cut out for him.
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