Problematic AI gets in the way of an otherwise likable heist.
As much as I like team-based first-person shooters, something about the original Payday didn't sit right with me. Maybe it was the way that the AI acted, like goofball idiots that couldn't shoot the side of a building if they were standing right next to it. Or maybe it was the lack of diversity in heists, as you were pretty much following the same standard rules. That said, I decided to give Payday 2 a try, mainly because of the opportunity to improve upon these little wrinkles. Needless to say, it didn't quite do so, but at least I'm getting more into the game this time around.
The game puts you in the shoes of one of four criminals – the Mastermind, the Enforcer, the Ghost or the Technician – and assigns you one of many jobs in the area, whether it's full-blown destruction in a mall to get even with a client or scoring the perfect robbery with four conjoining stores. You set up your battle party and set out to pull off the heist, avoiding the deaths of innocent folks (they are hostages after all) while completing every nook and cranny of the mission. Oh, and don't forget the cops and SWAT team members. They mean serious business when it comes to upholding the law.
What I can tell you about Payday 2 is that it's absolutely worthless to play alone. The AI continues to be rather stupid here, not really doing their part to complete the heist and instead following you around mindlessly or shooting blindly at adversaries. Sometimes you'll even need to save them, or run the risk of failing the mission altogether. Going on your own, Payday 2 is a frustrating mess.
However, if you get a good party of four players together – better off with people you know, rather than just randoms, though the option is available – you got a good party going. That's because the game fires on all cylinders when you operate as a group, and you really see where the chemistry is supposed to be going. On that front, Payday 2 succeeds over the original, even though some of the diversity in missions is still sort of lost. Rob this, destroy that, repeat. The life of a criminal, yes?