Payday: The Heist (PC) Review – Guns, Banks, and Criminals!

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Everyone played Cops and Robbers when they were kids, and it always
seemed more fun to me to be the bad guy. When Ten Ton Hammer href="">previewed
PAYDAY: The Heist
at E3, it immediately went href="">on
my radar as a game to
look forward to. Who doesn’t imagine being a criminal
mastermind, pulling off spectacular heists, ala Heat?
I’m a law-abiding citizen in real life, it’s always
fun to speculate what if. Now PAYDAY:
The Heist
is here and the crime
spree can begin.

In PAYDAY: The Heist,
you choose to play one of four different
criminals who are attempting to make a big score in a variety of
scenarios. There are six different scenarios ranging from a bank
robbery to stealing from drug dealers to being paid to free a prisoner
from a police convoy. You gain reputation as you fight your way through
the scenarios, which you can use to unlock upgrades for your criminal.
The scenarios have a number of objectives that must be fulfilled in
order to finish the scenario, and there are multiple difficulty
settings for each. PAYDAY is a first-person shooter that can be played
single player or co-op
with three additional friends. The experience
varies wildly between the two.

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Street shootout!


PAYDAY: The Heist
is rated M for Mature. It features: blood, drug
reference, intense violence, and strong language. It’s not
made for Little Timmy to play.

Gameplay - 60 / 100

Most of the comments that I’m going to make about gameplay
apply to the single player experience, but a few items are general to
the overall game experience, be it single player or co-op. I will
discuss co-op play in the Multiplayer section of the review. While I
find the concept for PAYDAY:
The Heist
intriguing and one
that really
pulls at my imagination, there are a number of problems with the

First, the game does a really bad job with the learning curve. You are
literally thrown into the deep end of the pool and are expected to
swim. A little tutorial with some explanations would be nice. There are
three categories that you can upgrade in: assault, sharpshooter, and
support. Each has different upgrades that are very valuable to you to
make you a better bad-ass criminal. However, there’s no
explanation of how to choose which path to take. I had to google the
information on how to switch from one upgrade path to another.

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It's all about the benjamins.

The AI for your teammates (if you’re playing solo) is bad.
While they do a decent job of covering you and helping you if you get
dropped, they cannot do any of the objectives in the scenario or do
little things like shoot out camera. This leaves you to do all the
heavy pulling. They will stay by your side even if you’re
trying to watch the left side of the room and it would be beneficial
for them to watch the right. Most times, if a cop drops you and they
come to help you up, they just sit there taking shot after shot from
the cop standing five feet away from them. Very rarely will they shoot
the cop first and then help you.

Another problem area is hostage taking. If a member of your crew gets
captured by the police, you can trade a hostage to them in exchange for
your buddy to come back. However, there is no way for you to order
hostages to move to another area. You can only tell them to stop and
lie down where they are. I’ve had quite a few times where
I’ve had one of my cohorts captured. While I had hostages,
they were usually in an area where I would have had to fight through
dozens of SWAT to get to them in order to make the trade. The bank
scenario is one that can be frustrating as that most of the people you
can take hostage are in the lobby.

The objectives within the scenario can become infuriating, especially
if you’re solo. Usually you will have to use a saw or drill
on an item, but while you spent a bundle of fancy weapons and body
armor, apparently you decided to buy your tools from the dollar store
instead of an industrial warehouse. Be prepared to run back and forth,
dodging bullets all the time, to re-start some damned tool that has
stopped working.

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Stupid drill! I knew we
shouldn't have shopped at the dollar store!

The basic setting for the scenarios is actually pretty tough. There is
no easy button here. While I kind of like that the basic difficulty is
harder than normal, it can get frustrating due to several reasons. The
longer you take to do the objectives, the more cops will come to try to
stop you. While there is a smattering of cops normally, the police will
mount a series of assaults where hordes of cops will come in from every
conceivable (and inconceivable) direction. There are normal cops, SWAT,
and special units such as the Bulldozer. My most hated foe is the cop
with that damn tazer, which has a good range and messes
up your vision while paralyzing you. On an average heist, my crew and I probably drop around two
hundred cops.

Other pluses to the gameplay include the variety of scenarios and the minimalist UI. The different scenarios
are interesting and provide a varied game experience. In addition, the
UI is clean and utilitarian. Interacting with hostages and items is
simple: just use the F key. As you play each scenario, there is tension
from beginning to end, without any letdown. You’re constantly
on your toes; there really is no downtime while you’re
playing PAYDAY: The Heist.
In fact, you can’t even pause the
game (which is not a plus – hope you don’t get an
important phone call!).

Overall, there are good elements in the gameplay, but items such as
computer teammate stupid AI, not being able to move hostages, having
cops come out of places where they really shouldn’t be, and
having to constantly check on drills and saws drags down the gameplay,
especially if you’re playing single player.

Graphics - 70 / 100

The graphics in PAYDAY: The
are adequate. While there
is nice
detail to the environments, you can tell that this game is a console
port. The character animations can be stiff for most models. For
example, hostages don’t fluidly hit the floor when you yell
at them. They crouch and
then…presto…they’re on the floor. There
are also clipping issues. Overall, the graphics aren’t
terrible, but nothing stands out.

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Robbing some drug dealer.

Sound - 70 / 100

Just like the visuals, the sound in PAYDAY:
The Heist
is adequate. Your
teammates yell and curse while the police band is buzzing. The music
does a decent job of keeping the tension going. The firearm sounds are
rather lackluster and could have been done with a bigger bang (pun intended).

Multiplayer - 87 / 100

Playing co-op with PAYDAY:
The Heist
is a blast. The
gameplay vastly
improves when you’re playing with friends as opposed to the
dumb AI of your computer controlled teammates. Now you’re not
the only one responsible for objectives and your crew can take part and
more intelligently watch your back. Coordinating defenses or attacks
against special police types amongst human players really elevates the
fun and enjoyment of the game. Plus, you can get the ignoble shame of
leading the pack in the number of times you were downed in every single
scenario just like I did.

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Don't taze me, bro!

The usual gameplay negatives still apply here with items constantly
needing restarting and hordes of cops pouring out of every single door,
window, rooftop, or helicopter. The only other negative for multiplayer
is while PAYDAY: The Heist
has voice chat, the game doesn't provide a
push-to-talk mode. I find this a negative as that hearing my friends burp or
slurp soda not conducive to being immersed in being a bad-ass criminal.
Still, the game is a hoot with a full crew of buds to watch your back.

Value - 77 / 100

While I have described a lot of negatives for PAYDAY:
The Heist
, the
game does give you six scenarios with multiple difficulty levels for
$19.99. If you’re planning on playing only single player, I
would definitely lower the value, but for playing co-op, it’s
a pretty good value. You and your friends will definitely get your
money’s worth out of this game.

 the heist review

Hostages can be useful...if
you can get to them.

Lasting Appeal - 70 / 100

PAYDAY: The Heist
is a game that has okay lasting appeal. As long as
you’re playing co-op with some friends, this is a game that
you’ll come back from time to time. Playing as a bank-robbing
criminal is just too fun to pass up. For single players, this
game’s lasting appeal is much lower. You could eventually
overcome the lackluster AI of the computer controlled teammates with
lots of upgrades, but you’ll have to put in a lot of time to
do it.

Pros and Cons


  • Multiplayer co-op is a blast
    to play
  • Does an excellent job of
    conveying the criminal enterprise of bank
  • Tension stays constant
    throughout the scenarios


  • Single player is heavily flawed
  • Really bad presentation of
    core mechanics such as upgrades
  • Lack of ability to move
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It's all part of the plan.


PAYDAY: The Heist
is a game that has an amazing concept but
doesn’t fully deliver on them. The core of the game is solid
and the game could use some tweaking and polishing. Playing single
player can be an exercise in frustration, but playing co-op is a hell
of a lot of fun. If you have friends who want to join you in some
criminal enterprise, then it’s definitely worth checking out.
I enjoy playing the game and there’s a good foundation here.
If they can improve the AI of the computer controlled teammates and
allow them to help with objectives, allow hostages to be moved, and
perhaps streamline some objectives, then PAYDAY:
The Heist
could be a
big score.

Overall 70/100 - Okay


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