A pretty badly broken game.

General Impression

The first payday game was a bit of a disappointment. A co-operative game about breaking into banks is something I want to play so much I’ve spent 2 years building such a game! The game instead turned out to be a series of levels about slaughtering your way through hundreds of police whilst waiting for the worlds slowest drill to finish drilling a lock. Tragically payday 2 is no different - the entire game seems to be designed to degenerate into an endless police slaughterfest as soon as possible.

The Good

To be honest, I’m struggling to come up with good things!

Casing The Joint

Before every mission you have a chance to scout out the level. In multiplayer this is the time when you walk about with your team and discuss how you’re going to pull off the job. I really enjoyed doing this - it’s really fun to walk about discussing how you’re going to knock out these two guards at the exact same moment as the third guy walks in the front and takes everyone hostage to prevent them from escaping, and then how you’ll proceed to bag up all the jewellery without anyone escaping all whilst the drill breaks open a bonus safe in the backroom. It never goes down like this in execution and that’s kind of the cool thing - dealing with the mistakes everyone makes messing up your perfect heist.

Incapacitated Guards Have Pagers

When you incapacitate a guard their pager will go off (I have no idea how the pager magically detects that the guard is unconscious) and you have to answer the pager. This is a pretty neat idea which means it effectively takes a little longer to knock out a guard and makes the whole “sneak around knocking everyone out from behind” approach a little harder.

Branching Missions

To be honest, I haven’t played enough police slaughterfest Payday to really get a feel for how the branching missions work. They were described as each scripted mission having a series of possible follow up scripted missions depending on your performance in a mission. E.g. in mission 1 you steal some art, in mission 2 you take the art to the person who commissioned you to steal it and then either trade it peacefully (mission over) or double cross him and make off with the money and the art which leads to mission 3 (escape). This is pretty cool and it’s an idea I’d like to be possible in Heist - a branching mission generator ought not to be a lot harder to write than a linear mission generator.

The Bad

Casing The Joint

Casing the joint is a very cool idea done very wrong. When you’re walking about scouting things, even if you stick to public areas, guards will detect you if you stand in front of them for more than about 5 seconds. This means that instead of walking around planning out the perfect heist you’re standing outside the building hoping that a random NPC doesn’t walk past and somehow telepathically detect your criminal intent.

On top of this casing the joint is a definite mode - once you want to do anything criminal you have to put on your mask. Once your mask is on then everyone (guards, security cameras, random members of the public) will instantly know you’re a criminal and raise the alarm unless you incapacitate them or take them hostage. This all means you cannot pull off a stealthy heist because as soon as you put on your mask (which you have to do) you alert everyone who sees you.

Incapacitated Guards Have Pagers

Again this is a nice idea done very wrong. When you answer the pager of a guard you obviously have to impersonate the guard and once you’ve done it three times you can’t do it again - on the fourth time the call handler will become suspicious and raise the alarm. This sucks because it means that if you have a 4 player squad (the max) then you can only knock out a total of 12 guards, effectively placing an upper limit on how much you can stealth before you simply have to go in loud.

Failure Amplification

The failure amplification in splinter cell was a bit annoying: sometimes the game would amplify the smallest mistake up to the level of requiring you to reload the latest checkpoint. Payday 2 is much much worse: There are no checkpoints and every single level amplifies the tiniest mistake up to the level of a full on SWAT assault.

  • You fail to call in on the pager when you incapacitate a guard: FULL SWAT ASSAULT
  • A single hostage escapes: FULL SWAT ASSAULT
  • You walk in front of any camera without disabling the security room first: FULL SWAT ASSAULT
  • You begin drilling a lock without subduing every single person in the building: FULL SWAT ASSAULT
  • You stand in front of a guard for 0.1s too long, even though you don’t have a mask on and made no suspicious moves: FULL SWAT ASSAULT
  • I think you get the idea

Naturally once a police assault has started there’s no way to stop it, and no way to resolve it peacefully - you just have to slaughter endless police whilst completing the objective.

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