Electronic Theatre Preview: Payday 2

The theme of Payday 2 is so commonplace in other entertainment media that it’s a wonder it’s not far more prevalent in videogames. Aside from its predecessor, the enjoyable but poorly executed Payday: The Heist, there really is little else to offer competition to 505 […]
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Electronic Theatre ImageThe theme of Payday 2 is so commonplace in other entertainment media that it’s a wonder it’s not far more prevalent in videogames. Aside from its predecessor, the enjoyable but poorly executed Payday: The Heist, there really is little else to offer competition to 505 Games’ forthcoming sequel, giving legs to the idea that widening audiences and advancements of technology can still achieve new gameplay experiences without the need for external assets and peripherals.

The gist of Payday 2 is one that any adult gamer will have a preconception of: playing as part of a gang of professional criminals you must plan and execute a heist in a variety of locations before selling the goods and reaping the rewards. Electronic Theatre ImageEarned capital can be spent on all manner of upgrades and customisation options, and new jobs will become available upon accurate completion of each job. The meat of the experience however, is in getting a group of friends together and experiencing the thrill of a heist together.

The preview build Electronic Theatre was invited to sample was built for four players to work together. Before heading out some time was spent selecting weapons, attachments, armour and choosing that all-important mask, and once those decisions had been made it was time to hit the streets. An art gallery was the target, and it would never know what hit it.

This, however, has more to do with the fact that our group is a bunch of inexperienced hacks, and so things aren’t likely to go very smoothly. Within seconds the alarm is raised and from here on out it’s a blastathon to maintain our edge against the police and SWAT teams as they arrive on the scene. Electronic Theatre ImageWe’re determined to make this pay however, and after a lot of unnecessary bloodshed we make it to the getaway vehicle with our four paintings intact. Things are set to get even worse however, as we are pursued and our vehicle crashes.

Not all is lost at this point, as the next phase of the mission begins with the team standing around the crashed vehicle while we wait for a new driver to arrive. Securing the loot we head to a nearby rooftop and await further information, holding our position with the use of heavy weaponry and sentry turrets. Within a couple of minutes the vehicle arrives, and once again we’re on our way to the drop point.

All of this emergent gameplay was delivered by way of a scale of probability. Had we managed to infiltrate the art gallery stealthily we would have been more likely to make a clean getaway; but not guaranteed. The getaway vehicle in the second phase could’ve taken longer to arrive, depleting our resources as more officers appear on the scene to try and take us down. Electronic Theatre ImageIn the final phase we are ambushed as we make the handover, a random occurrence that resulted in us having to leave a cashbag behind, earning us less money. This is what makes Payday 2 exciting: the fact that, just as in real life, you never quite know what’s going to happen.

In most other respects Payday 2 is comfortable but never astounding. The visual quality is a little below the curve, the assortment of weaponry is predictable and the level design is fairly pedestrian, however these are just small parts of a videogame that lives not for it’s presentation, but it’s minute-to-minute gameplay. The stalk around a target in order to find an easy access route, the quiet panic the second you realise you missed something and that alarm is about to be raised, the tension as a drill ticks down its seconds to break into the safe: these are the moments that make Payday 2 unique, and these are the moments that make it a genuine thrill to play.

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