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Payday 2 review

Payday 2 review

Let’s just get this out of the way early. Payday 2 might just be the worst single-player game we’ve ever played. It simply doesn’t work, and if you thought the Battlefield franchise was a perfect example of why multiplayer-focussed games shouldn’t even bother with a single-player component… well, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

The primary issue is that the team AI is beyond useless. While computer-controlled heist buddies can at least shoot straight, that’s about the limit of their abilities. They can’t carry bags of loot for one thing, making any mission where you need to get out with more than a couple utterly impossible solo, especially given the endlessly spawning cops and SWAT teams. They also never improve their gear, armour or abilities (not that they’re capable of using them anyway) so if you’re looking to do things stealthily, it’s all on you – at least they don’t mask up until things go south, so that’s something they do right. Well, ‘right’ – things would go far smoother if they actually helped, put it that way. And then there’s the odd fact that there are only ever two of them, particularly strange from a game championed for its four-player co-op. If you’re planning on getting this for offline play, forget it. It’s awful.

payday2-2Jump online, though, and this mess of a single-player game becomes one of the most compelling four-player shooters we’ve played in a long time. It still looks absolutely atrocious but even the worst players (and trust us, you’ll meet some real characters) look like pro gamers once you’ve seen the AI literally fail at its own game. Four very different skill trees mean that, ideally, you’ll want a regular group to play with and to each pick your own specialisation – one deals in control, the next is gunplay, another in demolitions with the last being the stealth-led class. Annoyingly, the best abilities sit right at the top end of each tree, meaning there’s a lot of noisy grinding to be done before you can even consider a silent hit. But with plenty of heists to pull off and each having randomly generated elements to keep you on your toes, the ride is as entertaining as the destination.

The structure is far from perfect – randomly doled-out weapon attachments make it incredibly hard to specialise, for instance, and we went a good ten hours before we lucked upon our first silencer. But when the masks are on and you and three friends are bossing it as your thermal drill tears through a high-security bank vault, all these issues fade into insignificance. Yes, even the fact that it’s one of the worst single-player games ever made.

Score: 80%

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