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Payday 2: Crimewave Edition Review

by Dean James

Overkill Software is a very young developer in the gaming industry, with only the Payday series to its name thus far. The original Payday was a rather simplistic outing as a digital exclusive, but Overkill took the series to grander heights with the release of Payday 2 back in 2013 for last-gen consoles and PC. The console versions always felt like the redheaded stepchild, with numerous pieces of missing DLC, but luckily Payday 2: Crimewave Edition is here to correct that problem with the definitive version of the game on current-gen consoles.

Thievery is the name of the game in Payday 2: Crimewave Edition, as players have a number of different criminal jobs to choose from in the game. These range from simple jewelry store or bank robberies to much more elaborate heists, which come with varying levels of difficulty and randomness within.

Payday 2: Crimewave Edition Video Review

Payday 2 utilizes a first-person perspective natively, which helps to set it apart from other options like Grand Theft Auto Online. The gunplay is quite impressive here, with spot on physics most of the time, even online. There are a lot of guns that can be acquired within the game that can be further customized to the player’s liking, along with countless available masks. This allows one to show off their creative side in the game, and who doesn’t love smacking enemies with a Swagger Stick as their melee weapon after all?

Similar to most every modern FPS, there is a leveling system that you can raise over time by gaining experience. However, the addition of a multi-pronged skill tree adds a whole other element to the game. Spread across five different skill types, you can choose to go all in on one or spread points across multiple, giving access to numerous perks. The various abilities will keep players coming back to further level up their character and open up entirely new experiences in-game.

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The original Payday 2 was sorely lacking on consoles in regards to post-release content when compared to their PC counterpart, which received a large number of packs that included new weapons, heists, and more. Payday 2: Crimewave Edition doesn’t bring every single piece of DLC to current-gen consoles, but it most notably provides a number of new contracts that you can take on, which helps to extend a game that can innately be quite repetitive. This repetition comes from a relatively limited number of job types that you can choose from within the game, though the game is good at mixing up smaller pieces within each to prevent them from feeling the same every time, to a certain degree.

Payday 2 was ahead of the curve when it released a few years ago, by focusing on essentially a multiplayer only experience. There is the ability to play alone, but it just replaces the other characters that could be used by friends or random people online with friendly AI. This would not be that big of an issue, if it wasn’t for the fact that the AI bots are absolutely terrible.

Rather useless friendly AI is pretty common with the computer controlled characters in first-person shooters, but in a game like Payday 2, that can really become a problem very quickly. Across the various jobs you can choose from, there are many objectives that rely on teamwork when playing with live players. These include getting past doors, gates, or similar obstacles by picking locks or drilling through. The latter requires many restarts within the long drilling process and the AI never interacts with these items at all, instead leaving you to do everything. This makes the higher difficulties near impossible, taking most of the fun away on many jobs when playing solo.

While playing alone can be a grueling experience, multiplayer with live players is where the true Payday 2 experience lies. Utilizing a rather unorthodox online system, players have a few different options for playing. By accessing Crime.net online in the game, you can pick an open contract and either wait in the lobby for any others to join, invite friends, or start with AI characters and hope that others will join in and replace the bots at some point. The other option is to jump into an existing lobby to play with random players more quickly.

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Playing these online matches with friends can be a pure joy, offering some of the best team based co-op out there. Almost certainly needing a mic when playing with others, building strategies together is all part of the fun. The first-person shooter genre is known for cooperative online multiplayer with modes like Capture the Flag, but this is where it is fully realized in missions that can last rather long periods of time, especially when choosing the jobs that span multiple days.

Payday 2 offers players the opportunity to go about the various missions in two different ways, guns blazing or using stealth. The only problem here is that it is near impossible to go with a stealth approach, especially with a team, due to the very sensitive alert system found in the game. To even interact with anything, such as to open a window, you have to put on your mask and take out your gun. The game really feels like it could have been better suited to allow simple tasks, like opening a window or cracking a safe in a back room, without being so easily spotted with a mask and gun.

While the online experience is where the meat of this game is, Payday 2: Crimewave Edition is rather buggy at this point. One of the most frustrating problems is that the aforementioned job selection map screen freezes constantly. Every few seconds or so will have the screen freeze up to where you cannot move the cursor at all, which stays frozen for about 8 seconds each time. This can make the picking of missions feel like a complete time wasting chore, though this seems like something that could be fixed with a patch soon after release.

The online play itself can also be buggy at some points as well, with lag and odd glitches appearing at times. One specific online game I played had my teammate tell me that my character was crouching the entire match and at one point running backwards while crouched. The character on my end showed everything fine, so it really seems to be a case where your mileage may vary. Luckily, the menu freezing bug online seems to be the only continuous issue thus far that can really hinder one’s experience with Payday 2: Crimewave Edition.

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Regardless of whether one is playing offline or online, Payday 2’s fantastic soundtrack will be ever present. Feeling like it was ripped straight out of the ’80s, the music perfectly syncs with the atmosphere and mood of such a game. Even better, players have the ability to pick a specific song before each job if they so choose.

The Verdict

Payday 2: Crimewave Edition may have some faults, but it is still a really fun and addictive game, as long as it it being played with other live players. The absolutely useless AI makes the single player experience almost non-existent and there are numerous bugs at this time, but while certainly not as innovative, with the heist genre certainly getting more competition since the game’s original release in 2013, the definitive Payday 2: Crimewave Edition is still the king and undoubtedly can provide countless hours of multiplayer fun, with a rocking soundtrack to boot.

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Payday 2: Crimewave Edition

  • Available On: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
  • Published By: 505 Games
  • Developed By: Overkill Software
  • Genre: First-Person Shooter
  • US Release Date: June 16th, 2015
  • Reviewed On: Xbox One
  • Quote: "While not as innovative as it once was in the current gaming landscape, Payday 2: Crimewave Edition is the definitive Payday experience on consoles that will provide hours of multiplayer fun."
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The Good

  • Excellent shooter mechanics
  • Team based co-op play
  • Addition of wide array of former DLC
  • '80s soundtrack

The Bad

  • Terrible friendly AI
  • Buggy online play
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