Payday 2: Crimewave Edition is finally upon us. The highly anticipated follow-up to the original Payday comes in with a bang and keeps you entertained, heist after heist.
The game is made up of a variety of heists that players choose from amongst a random selection on Crime.net, a fictional website where jobs pop-up sporadically. Players can choose to form a team with friends or play with AI to conduct heists that include bank robbery, stealing art work, killing individuals or prison breakouts. Heists can be one to three days in duration and four difficulties, each offering more cash and XP the longer and harder the heist is to pull off.
Well-known and much-loved characters Wolf, Dallas, Hoxton and Chains are back to steal your gold and ruin your day! With them come all new playable characters. There’s Clover, a sexy, witty Irish woman, Dragan, a crooked Interpol agent, Houston or New Hoxton (Hoxton’s younger brother that fills in while the Old Hoxton is in jail) and John Wick. Yes, you read right, John mother effin Wick. If you haven’t seen the movie then stop reading, go and watch it and comment your thanks to me below. A promotional tie-in with the movie, Wick is added to the game with the explanation that he and Chains used to work together.
The game itself isn’t hugely different from the original Payday, but that’s a massive win for me. I loved the original and it is one of my favourite games ever. The developer has managed to keep the core the same while providing additional content to sink our teeth into. There are new missions, gear, masks and as I mentioned, characters. They have added a further skill tree as well as a completely new idea in the form of the perk system. The perk system gives additional benefits for you and your team on top of your chosen skill. There are a number of ways heists can be completed and by having a team of four, each with a different skill tree, you can ensure you have the necessary skills to get over the line.
Payday 2: Crimewave Edition is designed for next-gen consoles, coming with all the DLC from Payday 2 as well as graphical enhancements, improved framerate and texture quality. It is the first step in moving away from last-gen consoles, meaning those that have it on PS3 and Xbox 360 will have to upgrade to reap the benefits of future updates.
While I love this game to bits, there are some flaws as well as bugs and glitches that still need to be ironed out.
The biggest issue is the lack of in-game voice chat. To effectively complete a heist using stealth you are required to have a solid plan of attack and communicating with your teammates is a must. Obviously, the way around this is to create a party outside the game but I’m lazy and don’t want to have to do that every time I roll with a new crew. The graphics are touted to be better than last-gen consoles but surely that’s just a by-product of the console upgrade rather than the game itself. There is a distinct lack of ability to interact with the environment in ways that run deeper than picking up Gage packages for sweet (not heaps sweet) loot. The Gage Courier assignment is a new feature that rewards players for finding hidden packages within each heist. While the rewards are many and varied, they seemed oddly focused on the AK or CAR rifles, which I personally do not use. As you’ve probably read elsewhere, the AI leaves a lot to be desired. Your teammates can’t independently interact with anything nor can they carry loot bags or basically do anything other than kill and revive without being told. This is a minor flaw as the game has clearly been designed to be played with humans rather than bots.
A feature I believe they’ve dropped the ball on is the ability to create a crew or clan; imagine chalking up boss stats with your clan going towards a global leaderboard! This is not a failing of the current game rather something that could be introduced to enhance the enjoyment.
Something I really enjoy about this game is the difficulty levels. As you level up you can choose to complete heists on a higher difficulty, this seems obvious. What I like is that no matter how high you get you can still find a challenge somewhere.
At the time of writing I sit at level 86 and heists like the Hoxton Breakout on Overkill provide a challenge, but with a good crew it can be finished no worries. Now try that heist on Death Wish (the highest difficulty) and you’re going to be in for a tough time, even with an entire crew over level 80. I’ve almost completely maxed-out two skill trees at my current level so I can’t imagine Death Wish becoming a walk in the park by level 100. The challenge of doing a difficult heist draws me in and keeps me coming back again and again.
The satisfaction of completing a heist using stealth is enough of a natural high by itself but add an XP bonus for your next heist on top of that and you’ve got me completely hooked. Getting into a bank and leaving with the loot without alerting authorities makes you feel like a regular John Dillinger, and I’ll admit I have to be careful not to knock things over with my raging hard-on at this point.
For a game that is relatively simple at its core, it has enough depth in customisation and choice of heist to keep you entertained for an indefinite amount of time. There really is no end to the fun you can create for yourself by attempting the numerous different heists with or without friends.
Reviewed on PS4.