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Payday: The Heist

ESRB: Mature - M
Platform: PS3
Category: 3D Gaming, Action Games, First Person Shooter, Shooter

Ever watched those action movies where the heroes are robbers with really big plans? Or the prisoner escape movies? Or maybe your average bank robbery movie? Yeah, that sums up Payday in a nutshell. It's all of them. In one game. In Payday: The Heist, you are one of four ne'er do wells, out to make loadsa money by such nefarious means as robbing banks... running and shooting your way through police roadblocks to “rescue” (I use the term loosely) your wayward double-crosser, and... stealing a drug dealer's panic room full of money?

Yeah, the game gets a little crazy at times. But it's a good kind of crazy.


The graphics are not, it must be said, the best, but they do the job and are comparable to L4D2s in terms of quality and the clarity of visual coding (Which means you know what you're looking at, and whether or not it will wreck you). The character design is pretty cool, and ticks all the boxes (clown masks for the robbers, bright yellow stripes on the dreaded tazer SWAT, and the bizarre armour on the Bulldozer). The menus are pretty clear, the HUD doesn't get in the way, and you know when your equipment's jammed via helpful colour coding (orange or red, go and fix it!)


The sound, again, isn't groundbreaking. The gun sounds are a little off, the voice acting's alright, if a bit stereotypical, and the low variety of lines means you will be hearing certain phrases a lot (especially “Wolf, Over here!”, “DOWN ON THE GROUND!”, and “[Insert name here] is down!”). There is some music (short stings, mostly), but you don't really notice it because you're too busy getting swarmed or dealing with retarded civilians and “prisoners”. Or both at the same time!


The game can, and has been summed up as “Left 4 Dead, but robbing banks”, and this is a fairly accurate description. You have scripted missions which are still slightly randomised (good example: sometimes your chopper pilot will miss the c4 drop, and you'll have to go allll the way down a building to get what you need), and, once the heist's started, you'll periodically get assaulted by large waves of enemies, a la Left 4 Dead. Even down to special units. Most of them are fairly easy to deal with, but the three of note are the Shield (has a riot shield), the Tazer (paralyzes you, and likes to play dead... screw the tazer!), and the Bulldozer (space-suit armoured shotgun maniac who will murder you).

While the L4D comparison sorta holds, another comparison to make is Nuclear Dawn. Not because of the setting (the setting is modern day, and has little to do with either), but because teamwork and good communication really matters. You can pull off certain heists in single player, and the team AI is mostly good enough to cover you, but with players, you have to constantly watch each other's backs. Voice comms are important, because the cry of “TAZER!” can often be lost in the general chaos, and so it's a much better idea to warn your mates when you're doing the 50,000 volt mambo.

However, this is not to say the game is without flaw. Civilians have a nasty habit of getting up or getting in the way when you least want them to (killing civilians is not a good idea, as it adds to respawn time and loses you score), and the “prisoner” style characters (basically escort NPCs) are, quite frankly, cowardly idiots, that you have to force forwards every five seconds, and will cower ineffectively without moving when more than 3 police are near, even though they seem to be technically invincible. And don't respond with anything like 'realism', you really think over 500 police officers are gonna turn up for four robbers?

Level design wise, the six levels vary both in style and difficulty. For example: Damn Heat Street to hell. No, really, damn it to hell, it's an annoying map. Force your way through about 5 roadblocks (on foot) to your double-crosser, then force him to go back a bit to a new place and eventually escape, while police are shooting the hell out of you the entire way. Although the bit where you're smoking him out by burning the area around his crashed van is blackly amusing. Compare this to Panic Room, where, as mentioned, you're stealing the panic room safe from a drug dealer's tenement block. It's epic. Essentially, cut around the safe (using the saws, which, like the drills of First World Bank, have an annoying tendency to jam), blow a three floor deep hole in the building, then a helicopter flies in and you basically tow the safe out of the building before running the hell away. It's bonkers, it's well designed, and it's just a rush to play.

Also of interest is the levelling system. Now one key point to mention is that there are three trees, and you change between them, either in menu or game, by holding tab and pressing 1 (Assault), 2 (Sharpshooter) or 3 (Support). You'd be amazed how many people didn't know this. Each “class” (which you meld together in your own way) unlocks different weapons, abilities, and kit, although, the higher rep you have (Rep=levels. Rep is gained by successful robberies and challenges), the more of the early stuff you're going to have. I'm rep 45 at the time this review goes to print, but I still use the Locomotive 12-G (a sawn-off shotgun), and, when the situation demands it, the AMCAR-4, because, even though it's the starting weapon, at my current levels, it has a scope, while my bolt-action rifle doesn't. There's a lot of tactical consideration, even with the limited kit here.


While only 6 maps seems like it's not enough for the price, there's a lot of replay value, and a lot of fun to be had here. You can play it on your own, but getting a four-pack and playing it with mates seems like the best way to do this. As mentioned, there are some infuriating moments, but, overall, it seems worth the price, and the kit unlocks all seem pretty cool. There's also going to be some DLC coming soon, and apparently, it's going to have a Nixon mask (which is a pretty funny in-joke), among other things (like extra levels). I'd definitely say give this a go, if you like your team shooty action.


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