It’s surprising how tactical PAYDAY 2: The Big Bank Heist can be when you aren’t going into a bank hot and shooting every cop who dares try to stop you. This is all I saw from the trailers – stand by a vault protecting a drill while hordes of cops descend on you, and you put them out of their misery (forgetting that they probably aren’t miserable at all and lived happy lives with spouses and children). It looked like Left4Dead with zombies replaced by innocent, hardworking blokes, trying to get through a nine-to-five thankless job.
No example better shows the tactical side of PAYDAY 2, the side that requires careful teamwork and minimal casualties and offers greater rewards, than The Big Bank Heist DLC. It introduces a new “pre-planning” feature, that anyone will tell you is the spitting image of the Rainbow Six footage from E3 where the team of oddly coordinated players decided how to breech a house with the hostage. The same questions are asked with The Big Bank and more. Do we approach from the loading deck? Where are all the cameras? Can we find the security room and break into it without alerting the guards?
Granted, these are the same questions asked in any PAYDAY mission where players want to take the stealthy approach, but the sheer scale of The Big Bank Heist makes this an entirely different beast. The bank is huge and populous. For one, there aren’t enough hand ties in the world to keep everyone in this bank from being able to pull out their phone and alert the authorities. The Bank Itself is three floors, with many expansive rooms on each floor. People I’ve played with online were so overwhelmed at the pre-planning stage that their basic plan was “screw it,” which meant try vaguely to be stealthy until that fails and go all out.
And it will fail more often than not. When it does, the military response is something akin to if President Obama was hiding the vault you were trying to break into holding the last American flag that will ever be made with evidence that God exists wrapped up in it. So good luck to you when one hostage decides to be a hero and calls in the cavalry. That’s why tactics are so important. Gamers have been itching for a good tactical shooter and The Big Bank Heist delivers on that front when played as intended.
When it does work, it’s beautiful. I’m not going to present a walkthrough in the review, but all the steps a coordinated team has to take to reap all the rewards creates more than enough desire for a payout. It’s like seeing all the bits of your masterpiece fall perfectly in place. Like any hard game, this one has the formula for buildup and payoff.
The main shortcomings of The Big Bank Heist stem from its parent game. The A.I. of the enemies is either too smart, a cheating A.I. that will always know where you are, or a bumbling idiot who just saw a man with a gun and a clown mask but convinced himself it was just his imagination. This is compensated by the fact that the bystanders and police officers have eyes like birds and can survey an entire level, high or low, despite facing one particular direction and usually engaging in conversation. Couldn’t it just be that, if I’m surveying a room from a skylight on the roof, enemies will only be able to see me if they happened to be looking up? Just a thought.
There’s not much wrong with The Big Bank Heist solely as DLC, but the game it’s built upon contains flaws that carry over here (enemy A.I., general glitches, etc). Still, PAYDAY 2: The Big Bank Heist does exactly what DLC should do by expanding upon the base game with new features and challenges that can’t easily be replicated in the base product. If this is an indication of the direction the franchise is headed, the future looks bright for PAYDAY.