The lights are on
Whenever I hear commentators expound on the thoughtlessness and general lack of innovation in the first-person shooter genre, I think to myself that they must not have played Payday 2. In this game, you don't save the world with bullets. You don't don the apparel of a military service or space marine armor. You certainly don't worry about your kill/death streak. Instead, Payday 2 puts you in the role of a self-serving armed robber hell bent on one thing: Getting the biggest score you can without losing your life or those of your partners in crime.
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This conceit is as old as the concept of currency, but surprisingly not many developers have attempted to make a video game out of the cops-and-robbers dynamic so prominent in contemporary film and television. Eidos tried on two separate occasions with Kane and Lynch and 25 to Life, both of which had multiplayer components that put players in the role of armed robbers. Neither caught on with gamers. Payday 2 succeeds where these games failed by building a diverse array of replayable scenarios that force players to cooperate if they have any hopes of making it out alive with the stolen goods. Like Left 4 Dead, teams that don't work together won't last long. You need to call out threats, provide ammo and health to teammates in need, and stick close together to succeed.
I also appreciate Payday 2's non-violent options. Not every criminal mastermind wants bloodshed on their conscience. Payday 2 gives you a chance, albeit a small one, to try and make off with the goods undetected without ever taking the safety off your gun. Given the unpredictability of these dynamic scenarios, it's extremely tough to make it out of a gallery without tripping a security alarm or being seen by a guard, but the thrill of the attempt gets the adrenaline pumping even more than squaring off with waves of SWAT forces after the police are alerted to your presence.
The AI doesn't always put up the best challenge, and the progression is marred by an overly expensive and randomized system that makes it hard to plan for specific weapon upgrades. These shortcomings shouldn't prevent the game from making the Top 50 games of 2013 list; in a genre where fewer entrenched publishers are taking bold chances, Payday 2 is a refreshing experience unlike any other in video games.
The Top 50 ChallengeDespite me singing the praises of this unique game all year, few Game Informer editors got their hands on Payday 2. For shame. As someone who appreciates the team-based action of shooters like Battlefield 4, I think Mike Futter is a good candidate for backing up my claims that Payday 2 deserves a spot on our Top 50 Games of 2013 list. Futter's understanding of team tactics and the importance of functioning as a group should help him understand the allure of Overkill's online heist game.
Mike Futter was given a day to play Payday 2.
Come back tomorrow at 9PM CT to read his impressions and see if he'll
support the game's inclusion on our Top 50 Games of the Year list.
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