Payday 2 is a very basic game. If you’re looking for a vivid, ultimate bank robber experience, look elsewhere. Right off the bat, the game sort of just throws you into a bare bones tutorial, which doesn’t explain much of anything and the only purpose is to get a feel for the game’s movement and gun-play mechanics.
Then, you’re shoved into the menu screen that’s surprisingly cryptic. There’s no obvious “play game” button. An advertisement for a DLC sits directly above the “crime.net” option and is really the “play game” button. The menus for Payday 2 are surprisingly confusing at first, as the game does a horrible job at explaining anything about how it works, leaving you confused and baffled on how to do even the most basic things.
After tripping over the menus and getting into the actual game itself, you pick a location from “crime.net” and you start your heist in “casing mode,” which is only useful for getting a general survey of the map and setting you and your team up in position to raid the bank, jewelry store, mall, etc. You can’t set way points or mark any potential items/points of interest, so you’ve got to memorize that instead.
When the shooting began, I noticed a bunch of glaring red flags during my play through. The movement felt clunky and the weapons felt weak and sloppy — they felt more like toys than real steel firearms. One of the biggest transgressions, however, was the game’s handling of the enemies. The AI controlled police force is extremely dumb. They don’t seem to use any tactics — they just stand there out in the open waiting to be shot as they try to assault you.
Most of them will try to blindly rush you or leave a large portion of themselves exposed while in cover, making them easy targets. Some of them won’t even engage you as you walk up to them and shoot their squad mates. It’s absolutely terrible. Increasing the difficulty seems to only give the police force laser-like accuracy and a tiny bit more health, and that’s a very lazy way to make the enemies more difficult in a first person shooter game.
The game does little to provoke you to re-think your tactics, aside from adding in the occasional special enemy type. One in particular is cloaked and can instantly “down” you in one melee hit. It just keeps throwing police at you until you either expend all of your ammo, get overrun, or get sniped by the insanely quick and accurate fire that police have, instead of having an AI competent enough to use small unit tactics in a close quarters environment.
The game shines in its customization — you’re able to customize your robber not only cosmetically, but with special skills and traits that can add brand new ways of approaching a robbery. Do you go in guns blazing, support your fellow robber mates, or go for a more stealth approach? It can be extremely rewarding to pull off a heist without the police showing up, and although difficult, it is possible and that is what can keep you interested in this game. Payday 2 isn’t all bad, it’s just very basic and very average. Overall, I give it a 6/10.
Collegian Entertainment Reporter Diego Carrera can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.