Ok . ok. I'm going to talk about a shooter, but I don't want you to get all upset about it. I know we've all been experiencing just a little bit of shooter fatigue lately, and rightly so, but if you have any love left for the genera you should probably pay attention. I mean, you like Left 4 Dead right? You like CounterStrike? And I bet you love missions that have dynamically changing objectives. See, now I've gone ahead and wet your whistle. Now just throw some Die Hard in there for good measure.
Payday: The Heist is the new cooperative shooter being developed by Overkill Software for the PS3 and PC. In it, 4 people play cooperatively to pull of a number of -you guessed it- heists while the AI controlled police do their best to stop them. Objectives are both dynamic and multiple in that they lead the player throughout various parts of the level as the objectives of the heist are met. In our demo level, which had us robbing a bank, we first had to find the manager of the bank to steal his keycard, use the keycard to access a printer that was hiding a drill, protect that drill as it destroyed the locks on a door to the inner-sanctum of the bank, use chemicals to melt the floor about the vault, enter the vault and take the money, blow a hole in the outer wall of the bank to escape, and then finally reach our getaway car to win. The entire time we found ourselves being assaulted by the police who came at us in waves and used a variety of tactics in an attempt to get the better of us.
Action in Payday: The Heist is fast, frantic but surprisingly well directed due to well placed objectives that turn the large levels into sections which hold much of the action. You can still go wherever you like in the level, but much like Left 4 Dead, teamwork is essential and anyone who finds themselves alone will quickly be overrun and arrested by the police. That’s right, when you go down your teammates have a certain amount of time to revive you. If they fail, the police will take you into custody and your teammates will then have to either save you by force or swap a hostage for you. Yes...you can swap hostages, both to get back teammates who have been taken in or to add more time to your objectives.
It's not all shooting and killing though. You're not supposed to kill civilians so you'll have to use your action button to tell them to get down on the floor. You can also use your action button again while looking at them to hogtie them, ensuring that they don't get up again. You'll experience different police types as well, some requiring teamwork to take down. For example, police with riot shields will require one player to act as bait as the other player flanks to shoot them from behind.
There are also player classes, a class progression tree, multiple load outs or pieces of equipment you can use, peaceable ammo bags, and medkits which players can use to heal themselves or others. It sounds like a lot, but even with all of these aspects the game does a fantastic job of slowly getting the player into the match and having them eat up exponentially as things go on. I was able to get in a game and have a very good handle on the action in no time.
6 missions will be available upon release, but Overkill States that DLC will be in the works to expand the action. With as much as there is going on in these levels, I'm sure that creating them properly is no easy task. Overkill also stated that they are interested in creating game modes where teams will be able to play both sides against each other but that too is an idea for a future release.
All in all, Payday: The Heist, is a fantastic joining of some of the best employed shooter hooks since CounterStrike. With team based play, fun objectives, and a smart AI, it's a fantastically smart shooter in a genera can be desperately brain deprived.
Unfortunately no release date has been announced, but this is one I'll definitely be getting into.