Monday, 29 June 2015

PayDay 2: Crimewave Edition

PayDay 2 was a game that I didn’t get round to playing when it first came out, so to hear that it was receiving what is now the common “remastered” treatment pleased me. I liked the look of it back in 2013; the concept seemed interesting as its rare in games to be controlling the bad guys. However, after a few hours of playing it, I was already starting to notice a few problems with the game, and it definitely isn’t the best remastered version of a game we’ve seen. 

Developed by Overkill Studios and out now for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One comes PayDay 2: Crimewave Edition, a remastered version of the co-operative first-person shooter where you’ll rob banks and stores, transport drugs, and break out prisoners. Players can control one of the four code-named characters, playing with three AI offline and up to three multiplayer characters in the online mode.

There’s no real story to PayDay 2, other than the fact you work for someone called Bain; your handler and contract organiser, who sorts you out with contracts for other gang lords. Although you can level up and earn skill points when playing offline, it simply feels like an advanced training mode to help players get used to the objectives and enemies you’ll be facing – it prepares you for the better missions in the online mode. The AI will only shoot enemies, repair drills (the worst drills in gaming history might I add), and revive players. Other than that, you’re on your own when it comes to completing the objective, and running back into a jewellery store you barely made it out of to collect and deliver 14 bags of loot to a van by yourself is ridiculous.

The online mode is a lot busier, and is filled with other players who are hosting jobs for you to join in, as well as the opportunity for you to start your own contracts. Players must work together in numerous heist styled missions to achieve their objective, whether it’s opening a door to the safe or hacking into computers. It’s easier in a group as they can drop ammo and health to keep everyone going throughout the fight. Everything runs smoother when you work as a team, and even without a microphone other players were still getting the gist of what was expected of them.

We all expect better visuals with remastered games, and although this version still doesn’t look as good as it does on PC, it’s a noticeable difference from last-gen consoles, achieving 1080p and 30fps. The shooting more often than not feels like a spray-and-pray situation, as the bullets lack the impact they should have, and when you start with a low amount of ammo, you’ll be running dry a lot sooner than you initially expected. Bringing in the teamwork aspect, that can be resolved by a teammate deploying an ammo pack, but for my experience I was hurling abuse at the TV aimed at the player who had two ammo bags and refused to deploy one due to not being able to communicate with them.

The remastered edition also comes with 16 months worth of DLC, which provides you with more missions, more masks, more weapons etc. for players to acquire by an RNG styled reward system at the end of missions. There are hundreds of items to obtain, and once you unlock them you also need to pay for them, so you could refer to it as replay value or a grind – whichever takes your fancy. Players have many skill trees to apply their skill points; Mastermind, Enforcer, Technician, Ghost, and Fugitive – all providing players with skills that will make them more useful during a heist, and with 95 skills to unlock, you’ll definitely be playing for a long time.

I have had a few problems with PayDay 2 since playing it, mainly gameplay problems – especially online. For a team of highly specialised robbers, you’d expect them to bring a working drill. Instead, they generally take a few minutes to open a door, and usually conk out every thirty seconds. You’ll honestly spend more time fixing and fitting drills than any other activity in the game, which shouldn’t be the case. The NPC’s are really temperamental too, as there’ll be a section where five or six will all flood in covering each other as they do so, and times where an enemy will pretty much crab walk, sit down, and just stare at you, as well as just walking right by you in many instances. Their awareness levels can really take the tension away at times.

With the online, I was really surprised that a filter that allows players to choose what mission they’re looking for, as well as their preferred difficulty level isn’t present. When you reach the higher levels, you need a lot more xp to level up as you could imagine, but the lower rated, smaller jobs that were put forward to me constantly didn’t offer enough xp to be able to justify doing the mission, and I was forced to back out of the online and re-enter it to refresh the feed numerous times with hopes I could find a mission for me. The host also holds all the power in an online mission, and can kick players, restart the mission whenever they want to (in my experience it’s been when they’ve died around 80% of the time), and if they leave the game, the mission ends for everyone as it won’t pick a new host. It’s a somewhat prehistoric ability to allow the host to do that, and pissed me off way too many times.

Overall, PayDay 2’s return to next-gen consoles is one that can be welcomed by newcomers to the series, but one that won’t offer much to the seasoned criminals out there. The core gameplay and concept of the game is good, and puts players in many challenging situations, but it’s a let down in many aspects, such as poor NPC awareness, mediocre shooting mechanics, and an offline mode which really doesn’t provide a fraction of the intensity the online mode does. I know that its generally gameplay > visuals, but for a remastered version of the game, where we expect better visuals, it doesn’t reach the high standards we’ve seen from previous games and has an effect on the in-game atmosphere.

PayDay 2: Crimewave Edition falls short of my expectations and receives a 3/5.


Sam Terry

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