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Payday 2: Crimewave Edition review

A most heinous crime, dude

Much like Mortal Kombat X and it’s movie-minded additions of Jason ‘Friday The 13th’ Voorhees and the Predator from… er, Predator, Payday 2: Crimewave Edition has its own nods to ‘popular culture’. Well I say ‘popular’ as you can now inexplicably select Keanu Reeves’ dog-loving/bullet-spraying hitman John Wick for a job (or have him join your crew as an AI partner). Another noticeable addition comes in weapon form: Lucille, the infamous barbed-wire wrapped baseball bat from The Walking Dead comics is now available in your melee loadout. Yes, that Lucille…

So what of that new-gen difference? The last-gen console versions were a pale imitation of their PC cousin when it came to visuals – both PS3 and Xbox 360 suffered from muddied textures and considerable pop-in. And while the new Crimewave Edition still isn’t quite as pretty as the one that’s still riding high in the land of the overclockers, it is a noticeable step up for consoles, even if the environments do look a little basic by modern standards.

Pop-in is rarely an issue any more and the jump to 1080p does add a slickness the non-PC versions sorely lacked. Sadly, the game’s still locked at 30fps but this does mean there’s almost no slowdown to be found, even when the game is throwing a small country’s worth of coppers at you. In an industry full of downgrade controversies and broken code, playing a game as solid as this feels like more of a revelation than it really should.

For all those updates and promises of future heists, weapons and mask
designs, the same problems inherent to the design of the game are still
here two years on. The AI is much more reliable in a fight than it was
back in 2013 (especially if you’re playing offline or with a mixture of
human and AI teammates online), but remains utterly useless when it
comes to completing objectives.

They still follow your every move, drawing police attention as you sprint across the map fixing drills and throwing bags of cash every which way but where. As the strong arm of the law, that AI is just as poor – cops frog-walk into your line of fire, often sitting still long enough for you to kill your umpteenth lawmaker of the match.

Despite the fact this is another entry in a long line of HD ports filling up the back catalogues of Xbox One and PS4, it’s still unlike anything else on current-gen consoles. Find the right team of players, learn the ins and outs of each location and keep your cool, and Payday becomes something GTA Online and Battlefield Hardline’s offerings only ever flirted with – an honest to God crime simulator.

When you get into that criminal mindset, it really is something else. Even so, ultimately the experience offered here is much the same as the one you’ve experienced on last-gen consoles or PC – there are still fundamental gameplay issues and asset quality issues that should have been addressed by now, but it’s still utterly engrossing and a worthy alternative to more traditional shooters that are more interested in K/D ratios and teabagging rights.

For those those with considerable hours clocked on other platforms there’s little to invest in here beyond the promise of future content (especially with no way to transfer progress across, even if you’re thinking of switching from one generation of the same platform to another), but for those completely new to the series and with a shiny new current-gen console under their TV, few last-gen ports are as unique as this.

This game was reviewed on PS4 and Xbox One.

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