I don't think he's sleeping...
Payday: The Heist surpasses Left 4 Dead in one key area: character progression. Money acts as XP, and as you level up you can choose which upgrades you want to work on. You'll earn money for completing objectives, so team play is the focus, rather than trying to rack up a high body count. During the course of the game you can change your upgrade path at any time. You’ll earn things like extra ammo bags, better armor, and new weapons. Specific challenges, such as defeating a heavily armored Bulldozer trooper with a shotgun, offer big cash rewards. This carrot on a stick will keep players coming back for more, because who doesn’t want a bigger gun?
As much fun as I’ve had with Payday, I can’t ignore some serious flaws. This game is a graphical abomination for a PS3 title. I know it’s a downloadable game, but... DAMN. The PC version doesn’t fair much better, while the graphics are clean, they simply look dated. The lobby system works on consoles, but leaves something to be desired. Starting your own game is fine, but finding other games can be a chore. The PC version’s interface makes it a bit easier to get the right game started with the settings you need.
Since the game doesn’t offer drop-in/drop out co-op, you could find yourself on an AI team if things go badly, and they often do. When players are captured they leave the game rather than wait for a teammate to release a hostage. Objectives can be unclear at times, but they all come down to finding a glowing interactive point, holding R2 for a few seconds, and defending that position. It’s not incredibly diverse, but it is a lot of fun if you’re on a good team. And you most likely won’t be when playing with AI or randoms. Use your mics, people!
Calling out strong enemies highlights them to your crew. -As if they couldn't see how bad-ass these guys are.
Payday: The Heist finds itself in a price point limbo. The game is a $20 dollar downloadable title, so many folks will be turned off by the cost. If you’re not going to be playing with at least one friend, it’s just not worth it. On the other hand, if you have three gung-ho partners in crime, your co-op crew will get a lot of enjoyment out of this title. I think Payday would have been an excellent value at $15 bucks - which if you have three friends on the PC - you can get for that price ($60 total) thanks to a Steam 4 Pack!
After over a week with Payday, I've come to realize a few things. First of all, every developer could benefit from having someone like Simon Viklund demo their game for them. He brought a lot of energy to the title. Secondly, Payday should have supported local co-op. Playing the game with someone right next to you is the way to go. That being said, Payday: The Heist is a very good game with some nagging flaws, and it is best played with friends, or not at all.
This review is based on the PSN and PC version of the game.
The Co-Op Experience: Four player online play with drop in/drop out support.
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.