“You were only supposed to blow the bloody doors off”
I can see the SWAT van arrive from the broken window, a small army of men file out to join their brothers in blue, and with that, it is time to breach and clear. The flashbang whites out my vision and I hear gunshots, I fire a few blind shots off myself before my vision returns enough for me to see the blurry outline of a jewellery counter and duck behind it. I watch as splinters of wood explode around me. I reload and fall back to the safe just as the drill grinds to a halt. It doesn’t look good as Riot Troopers and the National Guard funnel into the store.
Payday 2 was a great game when it was released on the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3; it was built on a very solid foundation, even if it was a little threadbare. 505 Games have re-released Payday2 Crimewave Edition to the current generation of consoles and while there’s not a huge visual improvement, there is definitely much more content. The premise of the game is one that is easily understandable: you, as part of a crack, four man team, are hired by the criminal underworld to carry our heists, tamper with evidence and even break an old friend out of jail.
There is no overlying story to speak of, instead of a campaign, you will play through a selection of “Heists” that encompass everything you will be doing in the game. These Heists are obtained through CRIME.NET, the multiplayer lobby and mission select screen. One of my biggest complaints about the original release was that the missions that are selected were random, meaning if you wanted to do a specific Heist, you may be in for a long wait. While the basic CRIME.NET is the same in Payday 2 Crimewave Edition, you can now select specific jobs from a different menu, albeit at a cost. The same Heists will also appear with different difficulty levels, the harder the difficulty, the more the job is worth.
The Heists range from simple one-day robberies to more extravagant multi-day jobs to find police informants, rig elections and many other nefarious activities. How you tackle these jobs will be largely up to you, with multiple skill-trees that will allow you to do pretty much everything from sweet-talking a police officer to fight for you, carrying riot armour and a circular saw for maximum penetration or being able to vanish into the shadows, there really is something for everyone’s play style. Before I get to the gameplay (the part that I have most to say about), I have to mention a big problem with the Xbox One version of Payday 2 Crimewave Edition. 505 Games are aware of the problem and we have been assured that work is underway to resolve the issue, but as it stands, the matchmaking is broken. When searching for a game lobby it is almost impossible to successfully join a game. I spent almost two hours trying to join games to no avail. So at the time of writing, if you are looking to play with random partners online, you will have to be very patient, or very lucky, it’s not impossible to get into a game but it is certainly enough trouble to put me off.
That being said, I had no problems once I was in a game, or if you are a popular gamer, directly inviting players to your game is easy and reliable. Playing a game as tactical as Payday requires a high level of coordination and a certain amount of planning, the community at the moment are, by and large, very good players and I haven’t had any problems with any Trolls (but of course I struggled to get into games with people I don’t know), so playing with a team is essential, in this regard, the overall feel of Payday isn’t affected too much by the matchmaking, frustrating though it can be.
The gameplay is fantastic. Plain and simple. Heists can turn on a pinhead and all it takes for your perfectly planned stealth robbery to go awry, is one civilian, one security camera or being just too slow to stop a bank teller from hitting the panic button. Within seconds your carefully planned Heist can turn into a frantic and improvised firefight with an army of cops. Watching the counter of a drill or system hack countdown is nerve-racking and really adds urgency to each Heist. There’s no shortage of enemies either, patrol officers armed with side arms will quickly be replaced by SWAT units armed with Tasers and Riot shields and sneaky ambush characters will wait behind a door just so they can Chuck Norris you in the face. When you are incapacitated an ally can help you up within a certain amount of time, if this counter hits zero then you are held in custody. The only way to get back in the game is to wait out a timer and trade a hostage, if you haven’t taken any hostages…. Then you are in for an orange jumpsuit and a couple dozen life sentences
If a heist goes badly or there is simply no way to complete it using stealth, you are in for a long drawn out affair, or rather it will feel that way. Most of the actions you need to take in order to complete heists will focus on getting to a certain door, safe or computer, drilling, picking or hacking your way through and then carrying on with the mission. These moments might only last three or four minutes but they feel like much longer. I think it is a testament to Payday 2 Crimewave Edition that these moments feel like they take an age, but it doesn’t detract or diminish the game, it never really feels like a grind.
After each successful Heist, you will gain both experience points and spending cash. The points are gained when you level up and are used to specialise your character as I have already touched on. It is imperative that you have a team that can deal with any eventuality so being able to unlock additional skill sets that you can swap out between missions is a great way to ensure that you are flexible for the team you are playing with. If you unlock a second skill set then you will have access to all of the upgrade points you have accumulated since the beginning of the game, but you will need to fork out more of your spending cash to unlock them.
Where there’s a will, there’s a weapon and there is plenty of “will” in Payday 2 Crimewave Edition. There is a huge selection of Assault Rifles, Shotguns, Sniper Rifles and side arms to choose from. The more powerful weapons will unlock as you level up but the real fun comes from modding them. At the end of each Heist, you will need to select one of three cards. These cards will give you a number of bonuses that are worked out on a semi-random basis. Weapon Mods are the most useful although you can also get cosmetics like new masks, patterns and paints for your masks and extra cash. The weapons handle excellently and having the option to add a silencer and scope for silent dispatch or adding a larger magazine and more aggressive modifications really opens up the game so you can play it how YOU want to.
There is a tonne of depth in Payday 2 Crimewave Edition, and there is much more on offer than when I stopped playing the original release. There are some pretty serious problems with the matchmaking and a few glitches have caused me to restart heists or see enemies teleport through walls but these problems can be ignored when you are playing with three of your friends. Successfully pulling off a stealth mission is exhilarating and the adrenaline of a “balls to the wall” police siege is intoxicating. For all of its faults, I have to conclude that Payday 2 Crimewave Edition is worth it, its fantastic gameplay and unique concept grants it a lot of leeway in my book. If you are a cooperative player then Payday 2 Crimewave Edition is a must buy.
Payday 2 Crimewave Edition could be a fantastic multiplayer experience. The gameplay is fast paced and hectic while dedicated stealth bonuses reward the patient player. Leveling up happens at a good rate and a good team can earn some real spending cash in no time. Payday 2 Crimewave Edition is still a little rough around the edges with occasional glitches causing heists to grind to a halt or enemies to teleport through walls. If the matchmaking issues are sorted, or if you play in a party, then Payday 2 Crimewave Edition will be an essential game for any shooter or co-op fan. But beware: the lone player will be waiting a very long time to stumble into a game.
- Graphics – 78/100
- Audio— 76/100
- Gameplay— 87/100
- Value For Money—92/100