Payday the Heist Review (PSN)

Have you ever dreamed of committing the perfect crime?  C’mon, sure you have.  Tell me you didn’t walk into a bank, see someone digging into a cash-filled vault, and all of a sudden feel like busting out Heat-style and saying, “THIS MONEY IS MINE!”  (Oh, and if you DON’T feel that way, that idea is all Michael Splechta’s.)  In Payday: The Heist, the team at Overkill are giving you such an opportunity; they are letting you and up to three friends team up to take part in six elaborate heists, starting with a simple assault on a bank and eventually leading to bigger and better things, including an attack in a corporate high-rise building.

Payday The heist screenshot

That’s jumping too far into it.  The game starts you off with the basics, with you and a team of three casually walking into a bank and setting out to rob it.  Now, there are conditions you have to meet, as you would in a real robbery, like tracking down the bank manager and stealing a key card, then carefully drilling your way into the vault.  All the while, you need to keep an eye on hostages so you keep your leverage at bay, while assaulting any police officers that feel like coming in to get you.  While these guys start off basic at first, they get more gruff and aggressive, including a guy known as a bulldozer, who’s all business – with a shotgun.

Probably the coolest factor about Payday: the Heist, a PSN exclusive by the way, is teaming up with your friends to pull off the crime.  Granted, you’ll all need to be on the same page, like any good co-op team, in order to be successful with your robbery.  After a few minutes of practice, you should have no problem scoping out goals, getting the goods, and then running for a getaway out the back.  Each mission you take on varies, and sometimes you’ll need to complete different initiatives, like rescuing someone during a prison transfer.

We’ll give Overkill credit where it counts – Payday is definitely an intense game, as there are some situations where you’ll have to fight for survival or scurry to the safe spot as quickly as possible.  The team must have watched the Heat shootout a dozen times in order to get the feeling just right, and it shows.  Unfortunately, not every aspect of the gameplay matches that.

Payday The heist screenshot

First of all, finding objectives can take a little bit of time.  In a bank robbery-themed game, every second counts, as you’ll continuously hear your teammates tell you how long you have left to run for it.  Secondly, the gun controls aren’t that hot.  The shooting definitely feels a little off-target, despite the fact that Overkill was going for a Left 4 Dead-meets-bank robbery sorta feel.  Finally, the AI is a little problematic.  Sometimes your teammates are dead on; other times, they’re on the other end of the bank, just waiting to do something.  Hey, guys, WAKE UP!

Another frustrating factor to Payday is, oddly enough, there’s very little pay-off.  Even after going through all six missions and completing a number of objectives, we never got to the point of earning any new weapons or bonuses to get us back into the game.  It’s just the same old assault rifle and gun.  C’mon, where’s the bazooka?  Or at least give us some knife skills.  Due to this lost initiative, some folks may be turned off from co-op entirely.  That’s too bad, because that’s the better part of Payday.

Overkill did do a pretty good job with the game’s presentation.  The visuals aren’t the best we’ve seen in an FPS.  There are times that glitches can appear, like with a cop trying to run through a wall (without a battering ram), but overall it’s a polished engine, with bits and pieces of realism thrown in for good measure.  The music is good too, as if it was lifted from some of the better heist films.  We could’ve done with less of the stupid chatter, though.  We know communication is important with robbers (well, okay, we don’t), but these guys need to shut up and shoot every so often.

Payday the Heist is a game that will leave you torn.  There are some aspects you’ll like, including the four-player online co-op support and the variety of the missions.  However, the lacking gunplay and small glitches may have you feeling as if you might’ve been robbed for $20.  Do yourself a favor and give the trial a go first.