PAYDAY: The Heist Review
The idea of this game is actually a pretty cool one: Take the Left 4 Dead style of gameplay (i.e., four player co-op FPS) and put it into a bank robber aesthetic. It has that really nostalgic built in appeal of playing Cops and Robbers when you were younger. Unfortunately, the game itself is not that great.
As I said above, PAYDAY is a co-op focused four player multiplayer shooter. During the six different heists you have to pull off with your team, you will play as one of four guys: Dallas (American flag mask), Hoxton (Droopy face mask), Chains (Vertical slit eyes mask) and my personal favorite, Wolf (Bloody face mask). Now I say favorite because I like the way he looks best. Aside from looks, nothing really differentiates the different characters from each. They all tough, military types who want to get in, get the job done and get out. A lot of the dialogue spoken between the four of them is just saying something along the lines of “Cops!” or yelling at hostages to get on the ground. It doesn’t really have that same personality that the Left 4 Dead games have. In each of those you play as very different characters with different personalities and different dialogue. This just seems like they could have all been the same dude and it wouldn’t have made any noticeable difference in the final product.
The game is broken up into six different missions. Three of them are you robbing someone, one’s an escort mission, one involves breaking someone out of a prison bus and the last one is an ambush and then robbing someone. I would like anyone reading this to keep in mind that my opinion of these levels are based solely on the single player experience because the online did not work for me. I spent 20 minutes while playing this game reloading the server list again and again trying to find a match. During that time I found two games going. One wouldn’t let me connect while the host left the other when I joined, so I decided to screw it and just play it all single player. That may be why my opinion of this game is so low. Of the three robbing missions only two of them actually do the mask thing that I thought was the most interesting concept in this game. During these missions you have to enter the location you are going to rob and try to be as inconspicuous as possible. As far as anyone in the building is concerned, you are just four dudes in suits. Then, when you find the guy who has the key or whatever you need to do the job you hit a button, throw down your masks and shit starts jumping off. I actually do like these missions. There is something I really like about casing a joint, finding where all the security guards and key person is, then just jumping shit off. It does give that feeling of being a part of a well planned heist. But there isn’t enough of it. The other missions start with you in masks, guns out and cops all over you.
Every mission, even the kind of cool ones, are very slow in terms of progression. In five of the missions you have to place X number of saws or drills on things. After some time the break down and you have to go and repair. You do this by standing next to them and holding a button until they start working again. For me this absolutely breaks the flow of the game. If you are in an intense shoot out with the cops, you don’t want to have to stop mid-spree to watch a progress bar fill up. In a later level you are having to manage four separate saws which are on two separate floors. At that point it becomes more about staring at the saw outlines on your screen than it does about killing the cops and pulling off the job. It is really stupid micromanagement that really pulls me out of the thrill of these heists.
Some of the jobs you are pulling go on for what seems like a long time, too. In the third mission, you have to attach a magnetic winch to a safe so a helicopter can pull it out of the building and then defend the chopper from the cops as it is taking off. But the chopper never leaves. I attached the magnet, went up to roof, started killing dudes and kept killing them for almost half an hour. The entire the chopper didn’t move an inch and the pilot kept saying “Clear the roof.” There were three times during this shooting fest when there was nary a cop in site, and the pilot was still yelling at me to clear the roof. But the thing is, even with all these tedious things that seem to go on forever the missions are still short. I was able to complete most of them in around an hour, putting the total playtime for all the missions together at around the same length as one of the PSP God of War games.
The short playtime required for these levels wouldn’t really be an issue for me if the shooting of the cops was actually fun. Each player goes into a mission with two guns. You know, like every other game. The shooting is functional. If you point your gun at a guy and pull the trigger he will die, but the deaths are so unremarkable they’re just boring. There isn’t any big spray of blood or ragdolls somewhat comically. It’s just some pre-canned animation, and with the amount of cops you are shooting you get to see all of them a lot. The melee isn’t that great either. Whenever you melee the camera jerks to side, so every time I went to hit somebody I would always end up taking a couple of seconds to readjust my aim and usually end up being shot to holy hell by the time I did.
Again like every other game there is a persistent leveling system in effect. As you complete challenges using specific guns or equipment you get new guns and equipment. It works just like every leveling mechanic in a modern FPS. Not much else to say on it.
The game’s look is almost as unremarkable as the shooting. Aside from one really good looking level on a bridge in the middle of a severe storm, every mission takes place in the same generic city. There are streets, buildings, alleyways, everything a city nowadays needs. And it all looks fine. But none of it really stands out in my mind like the bridge level did. It’s all functional but it doesn’t have any really kind of flare to it.
While I was not able to actually get into a single match of the online multiplayer, I did notice that there was no versus multiplayer. Understandable, I guess. The missions in the game are scripted in such a way that if there was a cops versus robbers multiplayer mode it would end up with half the people in the match sitting there in spectator mode for 15 minutes. But the developers could have made some separate missions where the cops are on the robbers’ asses from the get-go. Since the did almost everything else like Left 4 Dead, the cop players could have spawned in as a random special cop like the one with the riot shield or the jackass with the taser. Fucking hate that guy.
I know that this game is a multiplayer game through and through, and that I probably can’t get off just reviewing the single player. But if the online had actually worked I wouldn’t have needed to only review the single player portion of it. For all I know, the online makes up for all the bad things I said in this review. But for now, this game is a kinda boring but kinda all right shooter with cool looking but not terribly interesting characters, shooting that is functional but dull and levels that seem to drag on but are still really short. Some of these problems are the same kind of problems I have with Left 4 Dead but in that I also have the glee of watching severed body parts and zombie ragdolls paving the ground as I walk across them with frying pan in hand. This game, not so much.
Final Score: 2/5