Heisting My Salary

Still on the job hunt after four months I have decided to go a desperate route, make a career change and take back some of that bailout money through a more direct method. I am practicing to be a bank robber and an all around selfish Robin Hood and I have the perfect trainer in PAYDAY: The Heist.

PAYDAY: The Heist, from developer OVERKILL Software and published by Sony Online Entertainment, is Left 4 Dead turned “left 4 loot”. You and three other criminally gifted cohorts are smooth operating, TARP stealing and lethal when necessary, band of brothers. You are the most active members of Occupy Wall Street.

LR: Unique enemy units the Shield, Cloaker, Bulldozer and Taser.

The four of us (Dallas, Hoxton, Wolf and Chains) operate as a team looking to score money through differing heist scenarios, all while wearing masks that are a mix between those worn in the movie Dead Presidents and Point Break. From the token bank job in the scenario First World Bank to the corrupt stealing from the corrupt in the map Panic Room – where you lift a cash filled safe room out of a five story meth lab – each map requires a different approach. Also, adding to the suspense is the lack of a tutorial that walks you through the how-to-does and what-to-does. Should you try to stay inconspicuous as long as possible or should you go all Val Kilmer in the movie Heat and lay down covering fire to open up your escape in the map Heat Street?

PAYDAY: The Heist has a leveling system that unlocks new weapons, team helping drops and passive perks, but where it sets itself apart is in how you level up. There are three different class trees but instead of picking a class and then leveling up within it, you level up in each class depending on your style of play. If you hit head shots with your rifle on a regular basis then more unlocks become available under the Sharpshooter class. Lay down ammo bags on a regular basis then you will see more unlocks become available in the Support class. Have a Warcraft ogre like blood lust and an extreme hate for boys in blue (and special police units) then you will open up more mayhem enabling unlocks in the Assault class.

I am not ready to go pro in the heisting business as of yet (I only have 10 hours of practice) but give me enough time and I could, I mean Chains could, be visiting a local Bank of America very soon.

Whose behind the mask? Is it Patrick Swayze or maybe Robert De Niro? Could it be the infamous Mandingo?

The Roles of Rivers: Waterways in game play

Passing over the historic Brazos River this past Memorial Day weekend I flashed back to Fallout: New Vegas [FNV] and the time spent exploring the Colorado River and its shorelines. I heard the distinct sound my character would make as he started to drown and gulp for air, trying to sneakily reach a distant shore. I saw John Marston, of Red Dead Redemption, herding cattle (no, not nerds) against the river’s current in hopes to rope out a future for his polygon family. I visualized screenshots of Bethesda’s upcoming Elder Scrolls Skyrim and the beautiful rivers rendered with its new engine. I then swerved back into my lane and finished crossing the bridge.

Were I almost met my watery death, the Brazos River.

What this brief brush with wet death brought to mind, other than “Watch the road!”, was the huge roles rivers play in games. At times rivers act as a game’s protagonist or as a roadblock to exploration. Some developers use them to create a natural looking “invisible wall” that your character can’t pass – I’m looking at you Left 4 Dead. As in FNV, a river can play an integral part to the storyline and an actual enabler to exploration.

In real time strategy [RTS] games rivers can be (as is the case in real life) an asset that can garner you resources or positional advantages – a fine example of this can be seen in the entire series of Civilization games. In a war focused RTS a river can help protect your main base’s flanks, a tactic I used to my advantage constantly in Relic’s Company of Heroes.

The bridges of Company of Heroes Lyon map made protecting my flanks a bit easier.

As was the case this year with the Missouri and Mississippi, real rivers around us can create stories of their own with each flood. They can bring new twist and turns to the world’s geography and to a game’s narrative. Rivers were the basis of cities in early America and provided life, and death, to those around them. The same can be said of rivers in video games but without the actual pain of loss or the excitement of life…unless you’re me, were at times the difference can become like the water, murky.

Top 10 Cures for Weapon Disassociation

This week I follow up my last post regarding rewarding in-game weapons. Below you will find 10 in-game weapons that effectively present appearance; sound associated with the weapon’s usage; and provide visually accurate/corresponding feedback when fired. This list is not definitive, and limited to FPS games, but all the weapons listed below do meet, and exceed, the prerequisites of a superior in-game weapon.

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Land Shark Gun

10 ) Land Shark Gun / Armed and Dangerous: A gun based off a classic Saturday Night Live skit that makes you laugh almost every time it is fired.

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Spinfusor

9 ) Spinfusor (disk launcher) / Tribes 2: It reminds me of the Aerosmith infused arcade game Revolution X where you fired CDs and LaserDiscs at your enemies. Yes, LaserDiscs were a weapon – at least they were good for something.

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8 ) Gravity Gun / Half Life 2: Most of the fun comes from seeing what you can use as a weapon. Kill someone with the body of someone you already killed? Yes, you can do that.

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7 ) Auto Shotgun / Left 4 Dead: One of the best solutions to someone yelling “Tank!” into your headphones.

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Star Wars Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy

6 ) Lightsaber / Jedi Knight series: “A more elegant weapon from a more civilized age.”


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5 ) Rail Gun / Quake 3 Arena: Also a pretty good nickname to give your penis.

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Grenade Launcher

4 ) Grenade Launcher / Quake 2: Simplicity in design, simplicity in sound and simplicity in effect – a perfect example of form and function.

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Shrink Ray

3 ) Shrink Ray / Duke Nukem Series: What’s better than Pig Cops? Mini Pig Cops that you squish beneath your boots! Come get some!

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2 ) Sniper Rifle / Team Fortress 2: When up against it you are constantly looking for the red dot tell. When behind its scope you hide the dot just enough for it to be missed. One of the most beautiful head shot generators in the gaming world. Mind your head wanker!

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1 ) Super Shotgun / Doom II: Double barrel all da’ way!

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Just missing the cut were the Pipe Bomb from the Left 4 Dead games; the Tracer Dart Gun from Battlefield Bad Company 2; and what would of been the third weapon from the Quake series, the Rocket Launcher from Quake II. Let me know what weapons should of challenged my top ten ways to cure weapon disassociation in the comments.