Reviewed: October 29, 2011
Released: October 18, 2011
If you want to imagine Payday: The Heist, start by imagining Left 4 Dead, combine it with Point Break, and then, before you get too excited, strip away all the layers of polish, personality, and user-friendliness that comes with being a Valve game. Payday is, unfortunately, a game with a massive disparity between concept and execution, which really let me down once I got into the game and saw what it had to offer. Massive amounts of backtracking, an unfriendly interface, unstable multiplayer, and enemies that go from trivial to unfair with practically no middle ground make Payday a game that doesn't even approach its potential.|
Payday puts you in the shoes of one of a quartet of clown-masked criminals, tasked with accomplishing multi-step missions that range from stealing millions from a bank to breaking someone out of police custody. These missions seem interesting enough on the surface. However, tiny levels with absurd amounts of backtracking, sometimes going back to the same exact room three times to pick up an item that was there all along hamstring the overall concept of a heist.
Compounding this issue is the general incompetence of your AI companions, who aren't good for anything other than gunning down opponents. If you're playing alone, you're going to be the one who has to sprint through enemy fire to backtrack to the objective you should have been told about the first time you were there. Meanwhile, if you're playing online, it's a bit more exciting, but frequent disconnects and a lack of players make it so you're not likely to be able to get very far into any of the game's scenarios.
The game's graphics are solidly average, while the sound mixes together weak-sounding gunfire, tedious music, and flat dialogue. Over the course of several games, I could only tell the player characters apart by the sound of their voice, with no real hint to their personality, history or motivations.
At the end of the day, Payday is a game that doesn't live up to the sum of its parts. Left 4 Dead and Point Break should go together like peanut butter and chocolate, but Payday manages to drop the ball on pretty much every aspect of the game outside of its basic concept. Now that the idea's out in the ether, I hope someone else manages to take a swing at the concept of a heist game, since there's a lot there to pick up on, and Payday doesn't manage to live up to it.