The concept behind Payday: The Heist is ambitious. Commonly compared to the great multiplayer shooter Left 4 Dead, Payday sets you into several scenarios where situations go bad and it's up to the player to complete these insane missions. The problems with Payday: The Heist is the overall package is lackluster, sloppy, and broken in spots. Borrowing heavily influences from great heist films like Heat, Payday could have been a standout shooter, but in execution it fails to dazzle or even feel rewarding as you complete each mission marking Payday a missed opportunity as a truly great FPS co-op game.
Payday: The Heist is comprised of six different scenarios that range from a high-scale bank heist to searching for someone who has double crossed you. The premise is for the player along with up to three AI or co-op friends to work together on various tasks to complete the mission. For instance, the bank heist has a series of events that you must endure to get to the vault and make your escape. The AI does a decent job with sticking to the player and helping out when needed; if I went down, they would travel through the harshest firefights just to save me.
Payday has co-op, which might help persuade some of you to purchase just for that reason. You also level up your character completing missions which unlocks guns, attachments, random items, etc. One omission that struck me odd was I never came across any grenades. As you level up, the unlocks are tied to the level, or rep, that you hit and seemed to unlock nicer items the higher rep I received.
Sadly though, I started noticing problems fairly early and kept creeping up the further I got through the game. One huge problem I have is the fact that you cannot pause the game. This would be understandable if this was in multiplayer only but you cannot pause the game during the single player. Each mission takes around 30-45 minutes so make sure you are prepared before you start because if you die, you have to start from the beginning. During one of the missions I was on, I went down around 35 minutes in and the AI could not get to me in time, which forced me to restart that mission.
They have made even more bizarre choices with Payday. What about giving you the same task throughout most of the missions. During the bank heist you must protect a drill that is on a timer and breaks down at random intervals in which you must return to the drill and restart it. Another mission adopts this same principle but uses four saws that are buzzing through the floor to detach a room from the building. Or how about four saws that are cutting open four different vehicles. You get my point? With the variety of situations they put you through, they all tend to blend together. Also, why are some missions only playable on a hard difficulty? Bizarre right?
Even the shooting does not feel great. You are stuck with the couple of starter guns until you start to level up but I never stumbled across a weapon I truly liked. The characters do not stand out in any way at all, I have blanked on any of their names because it is such a throwaway to this game. It is meant to be played with friends, which makes the game more interesting, but you could say that about any co-op game. If you really want to play Payday, grab some friends and play that way. I cannot recommend this game to someone who is only wanting to play by themselves.
Payday is an okay looking game. The Slaughterhouse level takes place in a big building with lots of different objects that helps it feel more real. On the other hand, Heat Street takes place running around a street that is very boring to look at, and the Green Bridge level is even worse. Graphically, the game is really toned down, which blows my mind on how often slowdown happens. When the action gets real busy, the enemies will slow to single digit frames. Whatever feelings they are trying to capture with a real bank heist is ruined when you see cops running to cover looking like an 8-bit character.
Like I’ve stated above, I cannot endorse this game to the lone wolf. If you play a ton of co-op games, and are looking to kill some time with friends, then Payday might be something for you. When this game does something right, it decides to make a left turn into a brick wall and thwarts any liking toward itself. Yes it sounds harsh, but releasing in a time when amazing games are being flooded through and bringing a boring experience is almost unacceptable. Also do not expect to hop into random games at any time. The most I’ve seen at any given time was three and they were either full, in which the game only showed the room as 2/4, or I set with the other player for a minute until they backed out.
Payday: The Heist could be fun when you grab friends and laugh together at all the random absurdities. I’ve said many times that adding co-op to your game can only make the experience better since you can enjoy with friends. Very few gamers will find a good time with Payday, but most will be wondering why they are not playing something else.