Payday: The Heist Review

My crew and I have entered the bank and scoped the place out. Two of them find the bank manager, who has the keycard that we need; while I wait in queue at the tellers, and another teammate is upstairs with a view of the whole room.

Once the time is right, we put on our freaky clown masks, pull out our silenced pistols and begin the heist. My friend upstairs takes out the security guards in the room, the other two tie up the bank manager & some other hostages and take the keycard, while I take out all the security cameras in the area.

That is roughly the first 30 seconds of the first level in Payday: The Heist and you cannot deny, it sounded pretty badass, am I right?

Following in the footsteps of Left 4 Dead, Payday is a 4 player co-op shooter – but instead of fighting zombies, you play as criminals pulling off big heists. These involve fairly large levels with multiple and ever-changing objectives as you move through the job. It is easy to see the many movies that inspired the six levels of this game. Heat is the first that comes to mind, as every level involves huge shoot-outs with the cops.

As soon as you begin shooting, the cops will be on their way. The sheer number of law enforcement officers that get thrown at you is a little on the crazy side, to be honest. By the time we finished robbing the bank, I wonder how many police were actually left in that city – because I’m fairly certain we just murdered them all. Good thing civilians are worth more alive than dead!

As a nice touch, killing civilians is a big no-no, because when you get taken down (instead of dying, you get taken into custody), your respawn timer is longer for each civilian you’ve killed. Also, when you do get a chance to come back, there are 2 options – either wait out a respawn clock (which can be quite long) or hope your allies can get to one of the hostages you’ve tied up, to exchange them for your freedom. It’s a fun system and it requires a bit of strategy for where and when to take hostages, as you don’t want them to be too far away or hard to get to when you need them.

While you can play with AI partners in single-player, this game was really built for co-op (just like Left 4 Dead). There are even some special police that require you to work together to take down. The emphasis on teamwork is not quite as great as Left 4 Dead, since one really good player could probably handle a lot of the mission on his own, but like I said, it’s just more fun with other people. The best part is the way you need to constantly communicate with each other. Who’s doing what, who’s covering where, when should someone drop and ammo or health bag, etc..

The game has a surprisingly deep upgrade system, with new weapons, equipment, and other upgrades opening up as you gain reputation levels by collecting money. This also brings me to one of Payday’s biggest problems; a major lack of communication / teaching its mechanics. It’s only by looking through the menus that I realised there even was an upgrade system. And even then, they still never explained how it actually worked; I had to use a Steam Forum to find out.

Also, during the heists, there are a lot of objectives where you have to wait for something, but the game doesn’t always tell you how long you have to wait for. The point is, the game has a lot of depth to it, it just doesn’t do a good job of telling you much about it.

Luckily, by playing around or doing some research online you can figure these things out. And the reason you’ll want to is because Payday, even with the confusion, is a lot of fun. Due to the games challenge, there’s a great sense of accomplishment when you complete a heist – hell, it’s even fun when you fail a mission and have to strategize with your team to figure out how to do better next time.

There’s great re-play value, too, as you always feel you can do better by finding a smarter / quicker way to complete things. Plus things can change up a little on multiple play-throughs, such as the position of security guards, where an important non-player character (NPC) is or the kind of police you will face.

I have to give a special mention to the game’s soundtrack. Payday has some of the best music at the start and end of its heists that I’ve heard in a while. Again, this reminded me of Left 4 Dead in the way that the music helped set the tone and increase your feeling of accomplishment when you finally get to the end. It’s just really cool music that makes you feel like a smart and sophisticated criminal.

When you take into account that Payday is an indie game and the promise of potentially more levels down the lines as downloadable content, there is very little reason to not pick this game up. If you enjoyed games like the Left 4 Dead series and movies like Heat, then you really should check our Payday: The Heist. With four people playing together, it is a lot of fun. So put on your suit, grab your clown mask and let’s go make (take) some money.

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