Payday 2 Crimewave Edition Review: Great When Things Go Wrong

Is Payday 2 a great co-op shooter, or will it fail to bring co-op to your game experience?

In the last five-or-so years, we’ve come to notice that the cooperative theme in videogames has upgraded itself from a mere optional feature to a central concept for videogames. In the case of First Person Shooters (FPS) this became heavily popular thanks to Left4Dead, following its success, other games with similar mechanics followed. In general they would be a team of 4 against either an army of evil undead, or some sort of powerful being they must overcome, sometimes both. The latest incarnation that we’ve set our eyes on is Payday 2: Crimewave Edition for the PlayStation 4 (PS4). How fun is it to break the law with a few friends?

Production ( 2 / 5 )

  • Graphics look kinda dated
  • Plays smoothly
  • Most of the UI cues are easy pretty much text, however easy to understand.

Originally from PC and a sequel to its 2011 release, the game’s rendering doesn’t seem to make the most out of the PS4’s capacity. Texture maps sometimes feels a bit low on the resolution, models and animations don’t look all that great. The most puzzling part about this is how, despite the rather dated graphics, the PS4 version is still nailed to 30 fps. While that is a frame rate that many would find acceptable, it is sure to leave at least a few PC gamers raising eyebrows.

However, we think this is fine. Payday 2 probably wasn’t going to try to sell itself to you through what you were going to watch, but what you’re going to play.

The UI is very minimalist, most of the time there’s simply white text telling you what’s happening. For the most part it’s easy to understand what it says. However, there’s a good part of the game that it doesn’t tell you.

Mechanics ( 4 / 5 )

  • Has a classing system that allows you to hybridize and customize skills to your preference
  • Seems to have multiple ways of tackling some missions
  • Cooperation is key
  • Horrendous AI

An interesting point in the Payday series is its classing and skills system. You can opt to be an invincible juggernaut meant to withstand everything in its path and destroy them, or a quiet thief that swipes the prize away before anyone can notice, you can also be more of a supportive leader that helps tie the team together, you can even be a combination of those three, and more. This quickly diversifies the strategies you can implement per mission, so you may find yourself staring at all the options you can take and fail to make up your mind even after so much time has passed. Heck, we haven’t even covered the loadouts yet and it matters just about as much; bombs, jammers, cuffs, silencers, special tools for breaking in, you name it.

Handling all of these items and skills is impossible as a lone player, and that’s where the multiplayer kicks in. While there are types that would prefer to play even multiplayer type games solo, the developers have gone out of their way to make sure that your ally AI is something you hate with a burning passion. While your enemy AI is capable of keeping you from attaining your objectives, identify you as a threat, and position themselves tactically, your allied AI are basically gun turrets with legs. They’re basically capable of shooting things, and that’s about it. There’s like, a hundred other contextual actions you can do in the game, and they basically only know how to shoot at things. Please, find friends to play this game with or keep looking for coop partners online. If you can’t do either of that please write a letter to Overkill Software to please consider making better allied AI next time.

A huge issue that was instantly spotted while playing the game is that it spends no trouble trying to teach you any unique mechanics in the game. You pretty much just have to figure it out, you’ll find this extra frustrating if you’re going for quiet heists. There’s no real way to investigate the area without risking the heist, and most of the actions that don’t involve shooting are rather difficult to understand at the start. Bugs occur at times as well, sometimes cameras or NPCs seem to see through walls, or the alarm trips while you did nothing wrong.

However, despite having so much to complain about the mechanics doesn’t keep me away from the game, I come back for more, thinking I’d do better on the next game, with hopefully decent or better coop players. All the issues pop up because of the incredible depth the game is trying to achieve on a limited FPS perspective, in the end you know you can somehow make it work. And instead of having to repeat everything again, you take what you get and keep going.

 

Writing ( 3.5 / 5 )

  • All backstory, nothing remarkable.
  • Scenarios are okay, plenty, mostly a mix of usual quests.

Payday 2: Crimewave Edition doesn’t really give you much else to go on aside from being an outlaw pulling off heists to get rich. But really, do you really need more reason than that? You’re working for yourself, you want to get rich. You’re not saving the world from anything, and that’s good enough for me.

What they noticeably put effort into is producing as many scenarios as they can for your heists. There’s the traditional bank or jewelry store heist, but there’s also delivery jobs, multi-stage heists, or raiding several places at the same time. Most of these scenarios are basically combinations of your usual FPS tasks like defending a position, getting to places or carrying something to a truck. Sometimes that makes it rather repetitive, but with players changing constantly it’s hard to actually say that each game will be an exact repeat of the last one.

 

Features ( 2.5 / 5 )

  • Online means so much
  • Lobby system seems counter-intutitive
  • AI units are pretty poorly configured/programmed
  • Serious lack of conveyance of mechanics (like seriously I don’t know what i did wrong when things go south)

While the game relies heavily on online interaction, it does a rather horrible job of creating lobbies the heists you can join in. Waiting on a map for the heist you want to show up isn’t exactly the ideal gameplay you’d imagine for a fast paced game.

Additional features are mainly cosmetic, for your mask and for your weapons. Sadly there’s no stable way to obtain them aside from random drops and buying them on the online store. You know? The one that they claimed would never exist? Yep, that certainly pissed off fans.

Honestly there’s not much else to bring up here since a lot of the game is really focused on making complex mechanics that offer good depth for how you can pull off a heist.

They should really put together some sort of tutorial for these things though.

 

Overall ( 4 / 5 )

  • Multiplayer centered Experience
  • Many ways of playing
  • Can be fun despite chaotic gameplay (probably the point)

The experience one gets out of this may be akin to figuring out complex games like DotA 2, rather than Left4Dead. Your online partners can always be different making the plan for each game change, the different ways you can clear the each heist leads everybody to try something else. Communicating with the team might sound like a fully synced team until one of you shouts “LEEROY JENKINS!” and disregards the plan you just carefully discussed with everyone.

For beginners, this will be definitely be borderline punishing as an experience. But once that team starts coming together, actually coordinating with each other, does their job to ensure the heist, it feels pretty awesome. Then something goes wrong, and the plan starts to fall apart. However, your newly found buddies improvises and somehow pulls through. You don’t come out unscathed, but you were able to beat whatever the world had to throw at you.

That feels even better.

In the end, despite numerous complaints about how the game looks and works, one can’t help but admire the degree of freedom the developers are trying to give you to break the law. You can be a gung-ho warrior just bulldozing what seems to fight back or you can be the calculating mastermind that sees everything in spreadsheets. Being a thief has never felt so professional.

One issue people have had with the game is how they’ve betrayed their promise to not resort to micro-transactions to monetize the game. Recently they’ve added this feature and the ‘pay-to-win’ factor is quite real. Which really places a dent in their mechanics score.

Final Score: 3 out of 5

Game Review by Allen Silva

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