Crime does pay.
Back in 2013, developer Overkill Software dropped a sequel to its startup title, Payday: The Heist. While it was originally designed just for PlayStation 3 and PC, creators would later add an Xbox 360 version as the title progressed. Payday 2 further gave want-to-be safe-crackers and jewelry store thieves an opportunity to live out their every fantasy, without the repercussions of prison time, death, injury, or that paranoid feeling the feds are coming for you.
Fast forward to the present, Payday 2: Crimewave Edition is an updated version to its 2013 release. For those who have played the previous title, falling right back into the heist life is a breeze. Most of the same features are present with a handful of new ones thrown in to make it feel fresh. Gameplay is simple and straightforward, so new players should find little difficulty starting. Having a quick learning curve, it’s easy to get good fast. But this makes gameplay feel a little too simple and in many ways, very limiting. This doesn’t mean missions are easy; without proper leveling and upgrades, most missions will be near-impossible.
The premise pits a team of four together on a number of heists in various locations, from banks, to night clubs, and even some suburban homes. Though each heist may vary when it comes to objectives, players will typically be doing much of the same on every level: cracking some-sized safe or average smash-and-grab tasks. With the leveling system for skills, completing harder and harder missions become more manageable. Picking which specific skill to upgrade can be tailored toward your personal style of play. But just like on any good team, having teammates who have different strengths makes for a more rounded squad.
The four basic skill trees are still relevant and continue to give that edge when it comes to performing important tasks. Mastermind gives players that leadership role, one centered on interactions with hostages and crowd control. Enforcer represents the strong man of the group, built for taking punishment and dishing it out as well. Technician handles the explosives and safe-cracking hardware. Ghost will be your clean-up man, silent in and silent out. And the new Fugitive option seems to be a mix of everything, that all-around man. Each perk deck helps build upon your character's strength as you further grow your skills tree.
Skills and perks options can be found on the main menu along with safe house access, inventory, infamy (which unlocks when your reputation reaches 100), and mission select via Crime.net. All information about your progress on each tier, coupled with how much cash you've secured, will always be on display if you ever need a quick glance at your status.
When actually in action, it’s the small details that help add to the authenticity of bank-robbing… or at least what I’d guess it would be like. When casing a joint, everyone starts off sans mask, looking for entry points and guard stations. Once the masks are donned, it’s all business. Disabling alarms, corralling guards as well as civilians, answering radios, and fast lockpicking are all ways to keep missions stealthy. The better the mission is performed, the higher the end bonuses will be. Many levels can be performed in this quick and quiet method, but truly most of them will end in a gunfight.
One gripe that some players may have is the whole experience is in first person. Of course with this perspective, it does make players feel a part of the action, as if they were there themselves. But it also takes away from it. Running is bouncy and full of heavy steps, aiming and moving has a slowness to it that may leave you needing a better view, especially with all the chaos going on during a heist.
One of the major upsides to the combat is that you will rarely be standing around, as the gameplay is catered for every teammate to be doing something. However, you'll need to get past the feeling that you're doing the same thing over and over again. Now, there are many ways to work as a team and you may not always be the one cracking the safe or standing guard, but even with all the different specializations, you'll probably be doing on or the other.
Newly introduced in this edition is Clover, the first female playable character who is "fiercely dedicated to her Irish heritage." Also, Neo… sorry, I mean John Wick, is available for selection. That's right, the silent, retired hitman himself is around to help the team and make sure things are done correctly. Regardless of who you pick, this is a title strongly based on online support and working together is a necessity.
While there's plenty of repetition in Payday 2: Crimewave Edition. It’s fun to play the role of the bank robber and assemble a crew of thieves. It's not the greatest game nor the worst, so if you've never experienced any of it, it might be one to try. If you have, then you aren't missing much here, except for maybe a few new cool masks.