Since my brother was gracious enough to toss me an invitation to the Payday 2 beta, I’ve been storming the virtual banks and shops of Washington, D.C. with three other random, wannabe criminals in tow. Most of the heists went sour one way or another (got too close to a security guard, civilian tripped the silent alarm, safe drilling tools were started within earshot of a bank teller), but we almost always managed to escape with most of the stolen goods and cash intact. These were simple smash-and-grab operations, with an easy target and an easy getaway path.
By the time my brother offered me a spot in a 3-day job, my collected confidence built from several simple robberies gave way to cockiness. I could handle myself in a firefight and had grown used to the way Payday 2 constructed my earlier milk runs. Little did I know that one simple mistake would turn our polished Heat wannabes into Wet Bandits…
When your objective is simply “pick up three duffel bags filled with meth from a cookhouse,” you already know something will be amiss by the time you arrive at the scene. Predictably, a rival gang had shot up the place, so we stormed in and took care of the pests without breaking a sweat. What caught us off-guard was the unattended lab upstairs; as the police heard gunshots and swarmed the property, we were suddenly expected to cook three big batches of drugs.
Holding down the house would be a challenge by itself. There were windows everywhere, multiple entry points on the first floor, and snipers on each side of the house. Add in the need to babysit a meth lab, mixing the right ingredients at just the right time, and you have a recipe for disaster. And disaster did strike; on the second batch, a fellow criminal mixed the right ingredient at the wrong time, and engulfed the second floor in flames! The two of us who weren’t incapacitated took our single duffel bag and sprinted to the getaway van with our tails between our legs.
As the two failed teammates rejoined us in between loading screens, we realized the night was far from over. We had done a poor job of clearing out SWAT, so our punishment was a five minute standoff in a wide-open area as we waited for an evacuation via helicopter. Fortunately, our accuracy was much better than our meth-cooking skills, and we escaped in the nick of time.
As our posse piled out of the van and walked into the gang-infested projects, we knew we would be in for a world of hurt once the other party knew we had come short in our deal. Sure enough, one of them barked “This wasn’t what we agreed on!” before ushering us through one of the buildings. Thirty seconds later, we were in the midst of an ambush and had to find the information we came for before they burned it. In a move that cemented our status as the Laurel and Hardy of career criminals, we spent five minutes drilling a safe that only contained worthless war medallions as the gang destroyed our valuable intelligence in the adjoining residential tower. I cursed our rotten luck as we bolted for the car with our hands empty.
I was pretty steamed when the second “evade the cops” mission began, but while we ran to the top of a multi-level parking facility, my anger subsided and replaced itself with admiration. Payday 2 gave us a fair challenge and allowed us to trudge forward while still accepting responsibility for our careless actions. Even if this job wasn’t the overwhelming success I was gunning for, I felt like I was learning how to be a better player at every step of the way. With the final day in my crosshairs, I took a deep breath and prepared for the worst.
With the intelligence scattered to the wind, we stepped on a crowded nighttime bridge. The target and his henchmen already knew we were coming, so they opened fire as we ducked from car to car, shooting from cover and advancing toward their bus. After we eliminated him and his crew, we were given the choice to escape and take the bounty alone, or grab the target’s cash, acting as much-needed gauze to our wounded egos. When we opened the second case and a small stick of C4 was primed, I couldn’t help but laugh as we ran out of the exploding bus with only our lives and a single slab of cash intact. We were truly slapstick comedians to the bitter end.
The crew climbed onto the helicopter and exchanged congratulations on a job… done, while I sat silently and grinned. I took my lumps, and it would only be a matter of time before I came back for more. I would probably have better gear and “perks” by then, but they wouldn’t compare to the knowledge and determination necessary to commit the perfect crime.