The New “Payday” Looks Great…But Not Quite Ready to Steal the Show

While the original “Payday: The Heist” was a fun game, you wouldn’t be blamed for just remembering it as a particularly well made “Left 4 Dead” mod, even if it wasn’t.

The 4 player FPS co-op style was a big cause of this, but it was more the fact that each level played out like the “heist gone wrong” part of the story, and required you to shoot your way through waves of enemies to escape with the loot. It was more smash and grab than the perfect crime.

The details on the sequel (known only as “Payday 2”) are starting to emerge, and it’s obvious that the change of ownership (Starbreeze acquired “PayDay” developer Overkill) isn’t the only thing new in the series as there is a change in philosophy as well. This is evident through the early information, which points to a smarter game, and one not shoehonrned completely into the action genre.

Among the ideas contributing to this are new character classes like the “ghost” class, and varied approach and execution options which will allow for a level to theoretically be completed with minimal violence, assuming you are able to craft and execute the perfect plan for a job. Standing in your way is the usual security and alarm systems, made all the more cumbersome by the introduction of random elements which will change the location of guards, traps, and even the loot on multiple playthroughs.

It’s an exciting step in the right direction, and should still result in an entertaining game, but it’s still not the heist game I’ve been dreaming of.

No, the ideal heist game doesn’t skip to the shootout like so many others, but rather looks to the unappreciated strategy element. The perfect heist game would be 80% planning and strategy, and the rest left to execution, with action only as a last resort. This doesn’t mean that it has to abandon the FPS genre, but rather take the influence away from “Left 4 Dead” and closer to the original “Rainbow Six” games, which required precise planning and loadout selections, as well as effective on the job group management, to even have a chance of surviving a mission, much less flawlessly executing it.

There are other ways to go of course. A “Syndicate” style pure strategy game, an isometric original “Fallout” or “Baulder’s Gate” RPG sort, an “XCOM: Enemy Unknown” simplified grid based game, or even a “Dishonored” or “Deus Ex” think on your feet multiple approach for each problem type would be great.

Honestly though I’d just like to see more attempts at the genre until someone gets it right. Heist games are among the rarest in video games, and ones that approach it with anything more than a shoot first mentality are even more-so. A real shame too considering the inherit potential in the genre.

Not all hope is lost though, as the “Payday” series can still continually evolve, and “Grand Theft Auto V” promises more heist missions than ever. Plus let’s not forget that another “can’t miss” genre, the western, took almost 30 years to do right.

And That Was Well Worth It…


How Would You Like Some of the Best Games Ever for under $3?

If you weren’t aware, the folks over at Good Old Games have been doing a tremendous service to old school PC gamers, as they routinely offer a huge catalogue of nostalgic PC classics for low prices. While not as robust as Steam’s selection, it’s hard to not browse their titles without drifting deeply into fond memories, and maybe instinctively reaching for your credit card once or twice.

That’s an instinct that just got a lot tougher to ignore, considering that GOG has marked down a huge chunk of their library up to 75% until January 3rd. New deals are promised each day until then, but at the moment almost 500 games are marked down and, while some are modern blockbusters, the real deals are to be found if you’re looking to beef up your classics collection. You can hold your finger to the screen and scroll blindly, and in almost every instance you will randomly stop on an all-time, hall of fame classic that is worthy of the meager investment required. While it’s almost impossible to make a cohesive list of suggestions, for any gamers of a certain age, the number of great games available is almost pornographic, and can almost certainly drive the unprepared veteran gamer to madness trying to sort through them all, while still maintaining any amount of restraint.

I can’t speak highly enough of this sale, and whether you’re a fan of the classics, or a newbie boning up on their gaming history, it’s one of the best deals I’ve seen in some time. Even if you’re tapped from Black Friday sales, considering you can walk in with a $20 bill, and leave with 5 of the best games of all time (in a variety of options), it’s hard to not advise heading over and giving a great site some mush deserved business.


GAME REVIEW: Syndicate

Over the last few years, the FPS genre has become so oversaturated that you really have to deliver something special to stand out these days. And though Starbreeze Studios’ sci-fi shooter “Syndicate” boasts some pretty great ideas on the surface, the game’s sum is never quite equal to its parts. For starters, the story is a complete mess. Set in 2069, it imagines a world run by three mega corporations that are at war with each other for market dominance. You play as Miles Kilo, a bio-engineered enforcer for leading syndicate Eurocorp, which has tasked you with uncovering a mole working within the company. There’s not much else to the story beyond that, aside from a few incredibly predictable plot twists (hint: you’re not working for the good guys and you know it) that make the single-player campaign even more laborious to slog through.

The game’s combat system offers some innovative ways to take down enemies – by hacking into the bio-chips implanted in their heads, you can persuade them to commit suicide and switch allegiances, or even cause their weapons to misfire – but it eventually grows old, especially when you’re forced to rely on the same three tricks over and over again. Although that doesn’t make for a particularly memorable single-player experience (despite the involvement of actors like Brian Cox and Rosario Dawson), the online co-op mode fares better by turning each mission into a team-based effort for up to four players. There are nine missions in all, some of which have been re-imagined from the SNES cult classic, that tell a separate story revolving around a new syndicate on the rise.

Along the way, you’ll earn chip upgrades and weapons to use in future missions, providing a level of customizability that pales in comparison to the single-player campaign. But while online co-op may be the highlight of the game, it’s still just a sideshow to the main attraction. Players will certainly appreciate the added value that co-op delivers, but if you don’t enjoy the nuts and bolts of “Syndicate,” it won’t make much difference.


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