Payday: The Heist hands on from Gamescom

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Tim came back from E3 raving about Payday: The Heist , punningly saying that the four-player co-ops and robbers game "stole the show". I just played it at Gamescom - can it pull off a second successful caper?

The mission I played took place in the top four floors of a high-rise building, with glass-walled offices, a rooftop helipad and, most importantly, vaults at the bottom containing diamonds and jewels. We were there to steal them, and it wasn't going well.

After hacking terminals throughout the building, our team had just discovered that the code we'd been given to the vault didn't work. The solution? Kidnap the company's CFO, put him on a friend's helicopter on the roof, and take him hostage until you're given the correct code.

When I asked Simon Viklund from developers Overkill, he explained that this isn't a fixed event. Sometimes, the code just works. In this case, not only didn't it work, but capturing the CFO didn't do the trick either. We had to also grab his son.

The ways in which you can compare Payday to Left 4 Dead are almost endless. There's four of you, sure, but the SWAT teams and police officers that attack you also spawn in infinite quantities, rapelling from rooftops and smashing through windows. They don't try to eat your brains, but they hardly feel human, either.

One of the better ways the game differs is that, when a teammate falls, they don't re-appear later in a closet. Instead, they're arrested, and you can recover them by finding a civilian somewhere on the level, putting them in cuffs, and trading them for the safe return of your fellow robber.

After barking at the CFO's son to get up the gosh danged stairs, and shoving him into a helicopter, we finally got the code we needed, grabbed the jewels, and made our own helipad escape.

The thing that struck me was that, while it was a little repetitive and a bit clunky, the guns were outright better than Left 4 Dead's weak arsenal. While battling the po-lice, I used a Carbon assault rifle, a rapid-fire shotgun and a silenced pistol, and all three felt powerful and dangerous. You unlock more by collecting cash and levelling up, and it's going to be worth it if the other guns feel this good.

Payday is a simple idea, and its execution is nimble and lightweight - it 's obvious that the game's developers are only 30 or so people strong - but it just feels good. We'll play the hell out of it in the PC Gamer office, and I'm not sure why there aren't a thousand more games being made just like it.

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