As of late, there’s been a new obsession in my life. Well, two if you count trying to perfectly define Dad Rock- but I digress. A few weeks before starting this very blog, the group of internet denizens I play online video games with tried out a new game: Payday 2. Well, it turns out we really liked it and it’s been our co-op hangout of choice since.
If you’re unfamiliar, it is in theory a heist game; you take the roles of 4 heavily armed criminals attacking various banks, vaults and other places where valuables are kept to take said valuables for yourself while the police do their best to stop you. I say “in theory” because I have seen a fair few heist films- including some that the game obviously draws inspiration from- and in very few of them is the plan “attack the heavily armed cops that massively outnumber you head on”. Most of the missions will have the crew rack up a bodycount in the hundreds and even the stealth missions usually have you kill at least a half-dozen innocents.
I don’t actually care about that, though. Despite the theme, the game is too unrealistic for me to actually be bothered by the virtual atrocities committed in something as small as knocking over a virtual jewellery store. There’s a similar, earlier game called Left 4 Dead that plays the same way where the enemies are a horde of mindless zombies and the cops in Payday feel much the same. A single highly trained assault rifle armed FBI agent in full body armour just isn’t a threat to my guy in a suit wearing a silly mask.
And that, I think, is why we’re getting on so well with it. Except on the very highest difficulty, we can charge around like idiots, use dumb gimmick weapons and as long as one person’s paying attention we’re fine. It’s weird, but although the game wants do be tense & action-packed, a lot of time it’s a weirdly relaxing experience. So despite the gunfire, explosions, shouting and pounding techno soundtrack, sometimes I’ll be sitting at the end of a corridor, clicking on the heads of cops who run one by one into a doorway where they just saw the guy in front get shot and I’ll think to myself “This is very Zen”.