Preview: Payday The Heist

July 10, 2011

Previews

At E3 this year a man wearing an evil clown mask caught my eye. He was promoting Payday: The Heist, the co-operative adventures of breaking, entering and getting the hell out of there.

Payday: The Heist is so remarkably similar to Valve’s ‘Left 4 Dead’ that it is almost a shock that it isn’t a mod. No, this game is a whole new co-operative experience building on a foundation which has been so well established before it. You play as hardened criminals aiming to pull off a massive heist. In the demo I tried the aim was to break in to a high security vault deep within a bank, grab all the cash, then bolt. Exciting.

Immediately when picking up the game it is noticeable how it is a 4 player co-op game, you have your primary and secondary weapons, people and enemies glow different colours when you look at them; all in the same way as Left 4 Dead. This is a great idea. Whereas others may consider this stealing; what is wrong with using a system people are so familiar with? I could instantly jump in to the game and feel familiar with the mechanics.

The demo started with me and my friend slyly entering the front doors on the bank. By causing no commotion yet, the bank was unaware that we were there to rob them. This gave us a chance to look around all the unrestricted areas and plan a sneaky attack. This went out the window though when my friend whipped out his machine gun and started mowing down civilians. The bank security guards were small fry and easily dealt with and we made our way to the upper levels.

Our first objective was to hunt down an electric screwdriver which would be used to open a door on the way to the vault. This item glowed through all the walls giving us a clear direction which should be travelling in. As we made our way there we took out a few guards and tied up some unfortunate pedestrians to use as hostages. If any team mates were caught and arrested in the mission then they could be traded back for one of our hostages. Of course, if the police untie our hostages while we aren’t supervising them then our trump card vanishes.

If you take your time to shoot down all the CCTV cameras around then the police will come in smaller waves because they can’t see you when observing camera footage. I kept forgetting to do this though and it wasn’t long before we were swarmed. The further we got in to the mission the stronger the forces became and it wasn’t long before we had SWAT with a bounty on our heads.

After finding the bank manager, getting his office key, entering his office and finding the screw driver, finding some petrol canisters and making our way back downstairs, we finally put the screwdriver to use. Attaching it electronically to a gate we left it to break through, waiting while holding off swarms of guards. Every once in a while it would break down and needed recalibrating, so constant checking was vital.

Here we were introduced to The Heist’s version Left 4 Dead’s special infected. These tough policemen each had their own special traits. One had a taser which would not only damage you but set off your weapon uncontrollably, wasting your ammunition. Another had riot gear on and wielded a devastating shotgun. Each special policeman seemed powerful but never seemed unfair and broke up the gunfire of the common police.

When we finally got to the vault and broke in using our explosive petrol canisters, we loaded up the mountains of cash in to our swag bags and then made an escape attempt. The difficulty really kicked up a gear here, throwing everything they had at us. I was arrested multiple times and eventually died. My friend made it out by the skin of his teeth, granting us mission victory. I blame the blinding smoke bombs for my disorientation. Despite the fact I was annihilated I had great fun.

Payday: The Heist is a promising co-operative experience which doesn’t just build on Left 4 Dead but takes it in an entirely new and fresh direction. I’m worried that like Left 4 Dead there may not be much in the way of missions but if the game is fun playing the same missions multiple times then this shouldn’t be a worry. I hope that in the final release there will be more than one way to tackle a mission. Although we could be stealthy or go guns-blazing, in the end we had to fulfil set objectives in a set order.

Keep a lookout for more Payday: The Heist news in the future.

-Mevans

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