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Payback 2 HD Review
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Payback 2 HD, the follow-up to one of the app store’s early GTA clones, has been released by Apex Designs and is now available from the app store. Eschewing the typical criminal storyline that gave purpose to GTA’s mayhem, Payback 2 HD simply provides you with a series of bite-sized situations that put you into heart-pumping action sequences meant to keep your adrenaline flowing.

Payback 2 HD Pros:

  • Stylish presentation and open-world environments
  • Variety of game styles; online multiplayer for up to 4 real players and a dozen bots
  • Dual-sticks offer intuitive control method
  • GameCenter integration for matchmaking and achievements to earn

Payback 2 HD Cons:

  • Occasional graphical glitches, outdated feel that’s a bit bland and boring
  • Camera angles cause some confusion and cannot be controlled
  • Targeting opponents is a nightmare; killing players is a hassle

Payback 2 HD is chock full of game modes, from tank battles to grenade-heavy turf wars to car races and more. The goal of most game modes is to lay waste to as many opponents as possible before the timer runs out, earning you up to 3 stars per level. Stars go toward unlocking additional level sets, allowing you to choose any of the available scenarios at will. The scenarios can be played through in a lengthy Campaign mode, but you can also set up your own scenarios through the Custom mode option or take on players from around the world in Multiplayer mode. Deathmatches have a decidedly team-based mentality, as red and blue hoodlums square off in a festival of carnage that involves some pretty serious weapons, as well as carjacked vehicles. Shooting individuals and running them over with cars isn’t as cut and dry as we had expected, as it usually took several passes to wipe a guy out or sustained gunfire to leave a smear on the pavement. Targeting was especially difficult.  Additionally, cars didn’t move as swiftly as we had expected, feeling a little clumsy and clunky. Races lacked challenge, giving us an easy victory simply by holding the accelerator down and following the arrows. The AI didn’t really bother with us as we cruised to an underwhelming win. While the presentation is stylish and the variety of gaming options intriguing, Payback 2 HD failed to keep our interest for very long. It felt a little “been there, done that.”

Graphically, the game looks like a jazzed-up version of its predecessor, utilizing a lot of dynamic lighting and flashy colors to create a cool atmosphere, but it ultimately feels flat and boring. Streets are deserted and long stretches of concrete aren’t very picturesque. The top-down perspective can make it a little difficult to differentiate varying levels of elevation, causing us to walk off of ledges that we didn’t even realize were there. The city maps do feel expansive, but it’s all for naught if we don’t care enough to explore. A mini-map at the screen top helps you to keep your bearings while seeking out enemy positions. The soundtrack is made up of tracks from your own music library, rather than bloating the file size of the game with a lot of large music files. There are plenty of sound effects to enhance the experience, but they seemed tinny rather than robust.

Controls are fairly easy to use. When on foot, a dual-stick setup allows you to move with the left stick and aim/fire with the right. This can take a little practice when firing, as tossing a grenade will initiate a directional power meter that releases the projectile when you release your finger from the screen. Similarly, firing rounds from a tank requires you to aim at a target with the right stick, with the round being fired when you release your finger. It’s a little counter-intuitive at first, but effective once you get the hang of it. Most other guns will fire while you keep contact with the right stick. Jumping into a car is accomplished by tapping the icon hovering over any vehicle. You control the vehicle with an up arrow on the screen’s right for gas or the down arrow for braking/reverse on the screen’s left. Tilt controls are used to turn your vehicle left and right, though touch options are available. A button at the screen top allows you to hop back out of the vehicle. It was nice to see the controls presented in a very simplified manner, rather than cluttering the screen with a bunch of buttons.

Replay value is good, as the mission variety and multiplayer option should keep the gameplay feeling new for some time. There are some fun customization options to explore, too, giving your character whatever look you desire. There is an achievement system with three dozen items to work through, as well. A universal app for $5.99, Payback 2 HD is a bit of a lackluster 3-Dimple offering.

Payback 2 HD Review, reviewed by Kevin on 2012-10-11T02:04:18+00:00 rating 3.0 out of 5

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