Payday 2 preview: planning the perfect heist

"Imagine the perfect robbery: you know the blueprints inside out, when the guards go for their coffee breaks, and exactly how to get into the safe. Everything goes without a hitch, and by the time the safe is found, you're laughing. Not a shot fired. Payday: The Heist doesn't work like that." Eurogamer's review of the original Payday is an apt summary of what Payday could have been. That's not to say that Overkill's heist game was bad--far from it. But it lacked the brains to match the brute force of the game's cooperative shooting. Enter Payday 2. Overkill, now owned by Starbreeze, has been given a second chance at making the Payday game they've always wanted to, offering players the chance to make the perfect score. focalbox For fans of the original, Payday 2 promises all the requisite features of a numbered sequel. First of all, there's a lot more content. 505 Games won't let me disclose exactly how much, but it is an absurd amount of content. The lobby system is a lot deeper as well. Through "Crimenet," you'll be able to see which of your friends are online, see what missions they're tackling, and host your own games. And there's a lot of loot to collect, with players able to unlock new masks, weapons, mods, and more. But we're not interested in "more of the same." In the original Payday, missions typically devolved into horde mode shoot-outs, with monsters replaced by progressively better equipped cops. What if we don't want to shoot our way out of a job? Surely, there must be a way to play smarter. Payday 2 has been reworked to ensure that the stealthier player can enjoy the game. The class system reflects that, with types like "the Ghost" and "the Technician" giving players smarter ways of approaching each level. For example, in one stage, we had to steal a diamond from a jewelry shop. Sure, you can shoot your way in and grab a few hostages, but wouldn't it be better to sneak in the store and steal it undetected? With the right team mix, you'll be able to disable cameras, drill into safes (quietly), and sneak behind guards to make sure a bullet isn't wasted.

Another mission has you protecting your stash from invading cops

Of course, pulling off the perfect heist is easier said than done, and because random elements are introduced every time you load a level, it's impossible to learn a level and go through the motions, unlike most stealth games. For example, I saw the jewelry shop two times. Each time, the players went through the back alley, attempting to get in undetected. The first time around, there was just one guard and a camera watching over the back entrance. The second time around, there were two guards, ensuring our immediate detection. Oops. Even the location of the diamond changed between the two playthroughs of the same level. In the second playthrough, where we had already been detected, we could not find the diamond in the safe that housed it in our first attempt. With cops quickly surrounding the store, it quickly devolved into a massive shoot-out. Hey, you can't always be a master thief, right? From my brief look at Payday 2, it's clear that most missions won't go as smoothly as you expect, especially as the many random elements throw wrenches into your plans. But, that makes Payday 2 all the more enticing. Finding three other like-minded players, each equipped with complementary abilities, and executing the perfect score should be a thrill. And when things inevitably fall apart, the shooting of Payday 2 looks to be quite a bit of fun as well. Payday 2 will be available this summer on PC, PlayStation Network, and Xbox Live Games on Demand.