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Preview: Don your clown mask and prepare for another heist in Payday 2

Payday 2 Screenshot - 1149923

If Payday: The Heist flew under your radar when it launched on the PlayStation Network and PC in 2011, I certainly wouldn't blame you. While I definitely paid some amount of attention to the criminally underrated FPS myself, I would hardly say I ever became highly engrossed in it. That probably won't be the case when Payday 2 rolls by on the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC next month, however, due to a sheer amount of improvements and enhancements. Developer Overkill Software isn't just creating a straight sequel — it's building a heist shooter with a hell of a lot of potential that definitely seems like a huge deal.

The biggest change coming to Payday 2 is the massive attention to customization. Overkill has stated that it's throwing in a huge RPG element to the game, and while you could shrug that statement off as mere hyperbole, you'd be quite foolish to do so. That's because there is an evident RPG-ness that really stands out about this game right from the get-go. A lot of FPS titles often boast about customization and fail to deliver, but said mechanic is actually an integral part of the Payday 2 experience, and it all starts with the type of creepy mask you slap on your character.

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Aside from giving your robber dude his own unique look, there are oodles of weapons and skills you can unlock, purchase, and equip for each of the four class types. Just like you could have two very different Sirens in Borderlands, Payday 2 doesn't restrict you to just a single option for any one character. You can equip turrets that take out large groups of hostile characters, act as a healer, have a heightened sense of awareness, or just be faster at activating a drill to crack open a safe.

Those are just a few examples, but there are even more options to totally get lost in and wrap your money-loving head around. Certain missions even require a different approach, tasking you with changing things up considerably as far as your strategy, skill set, and equipment are concerned. For example, if you're simply robbing a bank or jewelry store clean, you could easily arm yourself with some heavy artillery and the beefiest armor you can find. All of that will, of course, make your movement more sluggish, so you would have to pack a lot lighter if you're pulling off a heist that requires you to get away from enemies rather than approach them head-on.

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Another thing that's really cool about Payday 2 is how events can happen randomly during some missions. After successfully stealing paintings from an art museum, my crime buddies and I were ready to fence the stolen goods to another group of criminals. We made the trade, but before we knew it, the cops were all over us, and we had to shoot our way out of the area and make an intense exit. I was told that something else could've happened: We could've made the trade and gotten out with no interference from the law, or the dudes we were making the trade with could very well have tried to screw us, thus creating another outcome. It's exciting to know that not every heist will go as planned.

By the way, the scenario I just explained took place over the course of two missions. The first was the actual museum gig, and that was followed by the trade. Not every mission will be part of one big event like that, but it's great that some of them will, because there's an undoubted sense of connection that helps to create a more organic experience. Because, ya know, getting dat paper (absolutely horrible expression that I just needed to use) is a lot more entertaining if there's some sense of interconnected immersion.

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Payday 2 is coming to consoles and digital platforms on August 13. If you were a fan of the first game, it goes without saying that you should have this game on your radar. If you missed the inaugural entry in this series or just played a little bit of it, however, you need to take notice now. Payday 2 is already looking like a bigger and better game than its already fun predecessor. There's a nice blend of action-heavy running and gunning mixed with more strategic gameplay to create a wholly diverse romp. Seriously, if you've ever wanted to rob a bank, maybe you should just fulfill that twisted (and highly illegal) fantasy of yours by playing Payday 2.

Want to talk about indie games, Kirby, or cheap pizza? Follow me on Twitter @dr_davidsanchez.

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David Sanchez David Sanchez is the most honest man on the internet. You can trust him because he speaks in the third person.
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