Payday: The Heist Hands On Preview
As far as the criminal underworld goes, there will always be a hierarchy of ‘jobs’. Knocking off your local off licence with nothing but a screwdriver and a pair of stockings could well be considered one of the entry level jobs you may undertake as you work your way up the career ladder of the criminal organisation you’re interning at. Nestled upon the upper reaches of the ladder, though, would surely be the bank job… as nothing gets the heart pumping quite like breaking into a vault and making off with a rather obscene amount of money. Bank jobs are truly where it’s at.
Consequently, going out and actually robbing a bank isn’t really an option to the majority of people, and that’s where Payday: The Heist steps in. Developed by Overkill Software, Payday is a new download-only title that sees you, the player, along with a couple of other friends, set out with the sole aim of robbing banks and making away with the riches inside; proper naughty.
In essence what Payday actually is, is a team based, objective-oriented FPS title and while you will have the option to play by your lonesome, it’ll be within the company of friends that the game comes into its own. I could actually be describing Left 4 Dead and by now it’s likely the similarities between the two will be causing the team at Overkill to become rather nauseated. Sadly though, it is the quickest way to describe it to the gaming masses, but to say that Payday is just another Left 4 Dead clone would be cutting it short; it’s very much its own game.
The mission I got to play took place within your typical bank setting, but rather it started outside. Instead of just dropping you into the thick of it, you’re given the good grace to go in and scope out the place, check out where the security is, maybe look for any key people of interest (in this case it was the bank manager) or perhaps just familiarise you with the layout; the choice is yours. Taking advantage of this calm before the storm, myself, my team mate and the rest of our team, made up of AI, began to scatter ourselves around the bank floor.
I slowly made my way to the top of the stairs, timing my entrance perfectly; a shot fired from downstairs echoed through the building; the heist was on. A bullet into each of the two guards saw them fall to the floor, the bank staff screaming in terror as I take the key from the manager; objective one complete. Turning to make my way downstairs to the vault I eye some of the bank employees, “these will make good hostages” a friendly voice in my ear proclaims. Not one to argue, I proceed to tie them both up; we’ve upped the game now and hostages have been taken, so the police will surely respond accordingly. Handing over the key to my team mate, I leave him to sort out the whole ‘breaking into the vault’ business and instead opt to crouch down behind some plant pots and wait. My crosshair focused on the door ahead waiting for the shade of blue to make themselves seen, bang, one goes down followed by a few more.
This was essentially the first wave of police that had arrived as further waves would later include not only more numbers but also greater variety of opponents. The fight continues and, as the vault is being broken into, a variety of objectives are being met; we’re winning, for now anyhow. I hear a window break – they aren’t just using doors anymore. S.W.A.T. start to flow into the building and, with my plant pot already a bit shaken up from its ordeal, I decide to get some cover from higher ground. It works well to begin with; my vertical advantage point giving me a good line of sight over the swarm of police now entering the bank, nothing my assault rifle can’t handle, and handle it well it does. Unfortunately, being split up from my team, I became easy pickings for the Special Forces that drop in via the ceiling duct and promptly take me captive, we’re a man down.
This is where those hostages we took earlier pay dividends, as we start the process of exchanging one for myself. That would have been the plan anyway if the local law enforcement hadn’t already rescued the hostages while we weren’t looking. We failed.
With a supporting network of features that allow you to choose a specialty such as assault, sharpshooter, or support, it’s possible to build up your character around your preferred play style. Loads of weapons to unlock and dynamic environments make for more replay-ability than you can shake a balaclava at. In the end though, while that may be important, the most important aspect about Payday: The Heist is that it’s downright fun.
At its core, Payday: The Heist is an extremely team oriented game; that much was evident from the play session I experienced, where not working with your team and, more importantly, not communicating proved to be disastrous to the levels’ objectives. It’s strange that there isn’t more of a buzz about Payday: The Heist circulating the gaming community because, on the evidence of what was seen at gamescom, it’s shaping up to be a title that could please a lot of people. It takes the multiplayer mechanic and spins it on its head for what it is shaping up to be one of those titles that you just have to play with your mates, slotting into that niche alongside the likes of Left 4 Dead and Team Fortress.
Payday: The Heist is due to be released on October 4th for PC and Playstation 3 as a downloadable title via PSN.
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