STAFF REVIEW of Payday 2 (Xbox 360)

Friday, September 13, 2013.
by Brent Roberts

Payday 2 Box art Have you ever heard the phrase "crime doesn't pay"? Well apparently no one at 505 games has heard of that when they created Payday 2. From the same company that brought you Brothers: A tale of two sons and Terraria comes a release where the goal is simple; commit crimes, shoot cops, and repeat the process over and over again. Payday 2 is about you taking control of one of four gang members and going through the city pulling off various criminal activities. These range from making and distributing narcotics, holding up banks, robbing jewelry stores and more. Priced at $39.99, 505 Games is trying hard to bring you deep into the criminal underworld. The only real question is does Payday 2 make off with your hard earned loot, or does it get nailed by the cops and hauled away to jail? Don your mask, load your guns, and get the engine started because our XboxAddict review starts right now.

The premise of Payday 2 is quite simple. An unknown person named Bain sends your crew out on various jobs to get paid and perform certain tasks. This is very simplistic; however, it's the execution of this entire game that brings whatever promise of a quality title, crashing through the skylight with the subtlety of a stick of dynamite. Being that Payday 2 is a first person shooter, we're positive that if we asked you what a good first person shooter game is, none of you would say Payday 2. This unfortunate situation is caused by a control scheme that tries hard but ends up being very clunky and unresponsive. We're sorry but how hard is it to come up with a responsive control layout? Call of Duty does it every year, and so does Battlefield and Halo, but does Payday 2 manage it? Absolutely not. It's especially sad when you factor in the computer controlled AI because they are about as useful as a blind seeing eye dog. They may take down a few law enforcement officers and even revive you from time to time, however, if you think you can take them into more elaborate missions, think again.

This forces you to take part in multiplayer, however, while there are some good sides to it, there's always the other side of the coin to contend with. Playing multiplayer allows you to combine and discuss strategy of the task at hand with other players. Using different skills and abilities (which we'll get into later) your goal is to try and scope the area to figure out the best way in and the best way out. This is truly the best way to play the game; however, like we said earlier, there is a flip side to the coin. Payday 2 offers up a great deal of randomness with each and every mission which means that guards may be in different places, doors may be opened that were once closed, security cameras may be installed in new locations, etc. This randomness means that your crew will constantly have to adapt their plans in order to have any success during the crime. This is especially difficult to do if you have random people in your game who aren't talking or just want to run in guns blazing.

Without a doubt the hardest thing to do in any criminal activity is to complete the job without the cops being called in. This holds very true in Payday 2 as being detected can be done just as easy outside your mark as inside. Simply putting on your mask outside and having a pedestrian watch you do this will arouse suspicion and then they will make a phone call to the police and even before you set foot inside, the cops are on their way. If that tends to be the case then you can find both solace and frustration with Payday 2. For instance, you can find walls that you can warp through but so can the cops. Another example of the flaws of the game is watching hostages or police sink through the floor only to pop up near you and unload a boat load of ammunition into you. While there are things you can do to try and hold off the oncoming assault, a lot of these bugs and glitches provide you with more and more frustration than enjoyment.

The bugs don't stop there however because graphically Payday 2 has more bugs than a roach motel. Walking around your environment will showcase a lot of the faults with Payday 2 in the graphics department. Walls will almost scan into place; you can witness cops and civilians walking on air, and more. These bugs would be tolerable if the outlying character models were more polished and looked better, but that's not the case here. It's been a long time since we've seen such a late stage game bring forth such watered down and weak graphics on the Xbox 360. The pain that Payday 2 suffers graphically can also be applied to the soundtrack as a one-two combination that knocks this game right on its heels. A very energetic but boring soundtrack, Payday 2 offers very little outside of hearing looped sounds play over and over and over again. We are so very thankful that the Xbox 360 allows for custom soundtracks during gameplay, and so will you.

There is though a bright spot in Payday 2 and that involves your different skill trees. Apparently you don't start out as a criminal bad@$$; however by leveling your character up in various skill trees allows you to upgrade your abilities and even unlock new items such as sentry guns, hacking tools, and more. While the upgrading character tree is a welcomed feature in Payday 2, the reward system at the end of each mission is not. If you were looking to acquire a new suppressor or accessory to a gun, (not your gun, but any gun) you have a 1 in 3 chance of obtaining something random. While this forces the replay value, it does make you wonder why would you want to keep playing this less than mediocre game just to obtain one weapon add on?

Ultimately in the end, Payday 2 tries hard to make a fun and enjoyable criminal experience; however, it is plagued with too many faults and bugs to make it worth the $39.99 price tag. On other platforms such as the PS3 and PC, Payday 2 has received some tlc to help improve the gameplay and fix some of these issues, however, the Xbox 360 version seems to have gotten the cold shoulder treatment. If you decide to pick this game up, and deal with all the glitches, bugs, imperfections, and frustrations, then go through the Xbox Live Games On Demand section as the asking price is $34.99. It can be said without question that the biggest crime of Payday 2 is trying to coax you to spend over $30. Instead of falling prey to this crime, why not wait a couple weeks, spends a few dollars more and enjoy a different crime game called Grand Theft Auto?

Here are a few short tips if there should ever be a Payday 3.

1) Improve gameplay mechanics so they feel responsive
2) Do away with the random loot choice at the end of missions.
3) Spend extra time polishing the game and removing bugs and glitches.
4) Improve AI so they actually have a use.
5) Improve the graphics and soundtrack as well.

Overall: 6.6 / 10
Gameplay: 6.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.0 / 10
Sound: 6.0 / 10


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