ESRB rating: Mature
Review rating: 3.5 stars
2011's "Payday: The Heist" was well received because it allowed gamers worldwide to don rubber masks and team up to perform thrilling heists. Now "Payday 2" has been unleashed, and it adds a myriad of additions including advanced customization and even stealth game play.
Players assume the role of one of four bank robbers as they choose a heist scenario and then coordinate with each other to steal loot and get out alive. Sadly, there's no overarching storyline, so each heist plays out like its own mini-story. It would also be nice if the "Crime.net" mission map was less confusing.
There are jewelry and convenience stores to rob, nightclubs to assault and even a mission where the goal is to cause destruction in a mall. Some heists even branch out over a few different days, but it can be hard to coordinate online teammates to stay together for each segment.
Each heist can be completed with human cohorts, A.I. cohorts or a combination of the two. I suggest playing with humans because the computer-controlled companions will frequently make the wrong decision, like running straight into enemy gunfire or standing beside a vault that needs to be cracked.
On the other hand, finding effective real-life players online is a real crapshoot. Too many people either don't want to work together as an effective team or they shout obscenities at others for their own mistakes! However, there's nothing like the feeling of casing a joint and then efficiently robbing it blind.
An in-depth system lets players unlock a wide variety of items, skills and weapons that not only offer advantages but also different ways to play through heists. This is appreciated because it adds incentive to repeat missions, but additional content will be needed to sustain the game.
Players who can tolerate the brain-dead A.I. and mediocre visuals are sure to have a blast with "Payday 2!"