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You know there's a lot of talk about Payday 2, the sequel to Overkill's seminal foray into digital armed robbery, Payday: The Heist. One of the things that's rarely discussed is the actual process in which a perfect heist can take place, where even if things go bad it's still oh-so-good.
Now the perfect heist in Payday 2 isn't necessarily better than perfect sex, not by a long shot, but it sure does beat the kind where you're all tired and you're not really in the mood but you do it anyway and then the performance is about as impressive as an overweight clown trying to handle a trapeze act while drunk... and it's just a mess and you're saying to yourself "Oh man, I shouldn't have tried that".
A perfect heist in Payday 2 just runs circles around the bad kind of bed gymnastics and the reason why is because everyone who is on their game in Payday 2 means that the robbery – even when things don't go according to plan – is still intense and satisfying.
Most times in MMOs (ones that rely on the Holy Trinity) you have to run dungeons, raids or boss fights in a specific manner. If one person messes up (Leroy Jenkins style) it can ruin the run for everyone. And as we know, a ruined run equals ruined fun.
With Payday 2 it's still entirely possible to pull off a perfect heist even if you mess up. Yes, it's possible. You can still nab tons of loot (or even extra loot), get the team out in one piece, maintain a low bodycount of police and maintain civilians without any casualties, even if someone does trip an alarm or fail to spot a civilian who runs off and dials 911.
In one scenario I was running with some heavyweights. We walked right up to the front door of the jewelry store, put on our masks and subdued the guards and patrons. We began rounding up the jewelry and managed to toss a few bags into the back of the van like seasoned professionals taking Swedish candy from a sleeping baby.
Things were going pitch perfect... and then a civilian walking down the street saw us with our masks on, our guns drawn and a few duffel bags full of fine jewelry and decided to ring the popo. Our getaway van took off while one of our members was tossing the bag into the back and it appropriately fell to the ground with a muffled thud.
It wasn't any one thing we did that messed us up, it was just the fact that a random occurrence happened that caused us to get caught in the act. This was one of the things I was hoping Overkill would have added in when I noted the lack of civilian oversight in the one video that showed a pitch-perfect stealth run during the game's beta.
Instead of having our plans foiled, we retreated into the store and waited for the getaway van to make a return.
Funnily enough, everyone knew to pick their shots. One of the rules in the higher level runs is that you don't kill first responders until they pose an imminent threat to the team. So for a short while there was a tense standoff between the police outside the store and the few of us with a room full of nine hostages and one subdued store guard.
We bided our time by controlling the crowd and suppressing the first-responders until the assault team showed up and then we proceeded to make quick work of the heavily armed officers. This carried on for a short time until the escape van pulled up in the same alley... the same alley where it had left us before.
Tactically, one of our members never left the alley and provided us with some cover fire to distract police, just long enough for us to throw the remaining duffel bags across the street and get into the van. It was beautiful... absolutely beautiful.
Pete mentioned in the review that the intense moments feel like they come right out of Michael Mann's 1995 crime-thriller Heat, and it's true. The best moments in the game are when the opposing AI are trying to find a way to thwart you, free the hostages or impede your heist attempt. As mentioned in a previous article, it's like a tactical, real-time version of chess... but with cops and robbers.
Payday 2 is currently available right now for the Xbox 360, PlayStation 3 and PC. There have been some reports that the console versions are suffering from a few unwelcoming bugs but I imagine Overkill will roll out a patch soon enough to smooth over the finer details.
You can learn more about Payday 2 by paying a visit to the game's official website.