Payday -The Game- Soundtrack
Payday -The Game- Soundtrack
October 18, 2012
Download at Bandcamp
Following the untimely closure of GRIN, a team of Swedish developers came together to form the independent studio Overkill Software. Their highly successful debut Payday: The Heist is definitely one of the best co-operative games I’ve ever played with its unique scenario and take on heist gameplay. Featuring four main characters up for any challenge, no matter how big, the game was even more engaging when you played with different players. The game’s soundtrack was released on Bandcamp and Steam to commemorate the one year anniversary of the game’s release. The soundtrack from Bionic Commando’s Simon Viklund features a total of 23 tracks, all with a contemporary edge to them.
The first track finalised during the development, “Stone Cold” sets the tense scene for the Green Bridge heist. The introduction uses ominous beats and a heartbeat-like pace to give a blockbuster-like feel to the mission. During its five minute playtime, it builds up by introducing hard breakbeats, transient orchestration, and other features. In the game, the track develops in an adaptive way, with each layer representing an increase in intensity. But reflecting the incredible level of attention Viklund has given to the soundtrack release, the track has been edited to yield a linear, cohesive stand-alone listen. In many ways, the stylings and development is reminiscent of Amon Tobin’s score for Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory, and that is no bad thing.
One of the best-mixed action tracks is “Code Silver” for the heist in Mercy Hospital. Not only are the riffs and melodies exciting here, but the balance between the hectic techno stylings and the progressive drum work is outstanding. It makes for a very fun smooth listen, demonstrating Viklund’s expertise with these types of soundtrack. This track could even fit an underground European club with its hard techno stylings and fast-paced danceable beats. Another adrenaline-pumping track definitely worth mentioning is “See You at the Safe House”, the soundtrack’s most outstanding piece in my opinion. To describe it in one word: ‘kickass’. The unpredictable drum rhythms and cool guitar riffs here — both apparently influenced by Marilyn Manson — really capture the atmosphere of the game. It’s also of note that this track has been specially extended on the soundtrack release from its brief original loop.
The latter half of the soundtrack is filled with all kinds of tense tracks that set the mood for the heists. The main menu theme “Criminal Intent” perfectly establishes the gritty mood for the game. Opening with subtly paced electronics, it builds up to a fantastic second half featuring rocking guitar melodies and amazing drum lines. The strong melodies and unique rhythmic pace are definitely the highlight here and save it from being a generic rock action track. “Phoney Money” is perfect for introducing the Panic Room heist, with its groovy urban beats and meditative pace, leading into the faster-paced “The Take” when everything goes crazy. “Breach of Security” is another excellent example of adaptive development, transitioning from its slow suspenseful opening into a brisk latter half. It even makes use of alarming tunes to relate to the alarm going off in that level.
Six tracks on the album are featured in two versions, one with sound effects, one without them. It is likely that most will find the regular voiceovers and sound effects distracting on the stand-alone release, especially those who haven’t played the game. The sfx-less versions are therefore the versions most consumers will want to hear, though they can only be unlocked by purchasing the full soundtrack. The versions with sound effects still have some merit, since they reflect the context of the music is used in. Going back to “Stone Cold”, for instance, the police chatter works really well to capture the scenario — used during a mission to release a man from police custody on a bridge surrounded by police. “Busted” features a policeman reading a suspect his miranda rights, while “Gun Metal Grey” captures various elements of a bank robbery. “Breaking News”, in contrast to the others, includes non-stop sound effects that potentially distract from the music.
Lastly, there are two original songs composed for the game. One is “I Will Give You My All”, an irresistibly catchy track featuring classic electronic stylings and great vocals. It was written as diegetic music for the Gamer Group party in the Diamond Heist, but actually works well on a stand-alone basis too. That said, the main theme song “Payday for Us”, written by Shawn Davis and his band, is more iconic and enjoyable. It’s all about taking back what the government, politicians, and banks have taken from us through anarchy. Everything is nice about this song, from the guitar-focused beginning to the country-inspired use of drums and guitar. The lyrics are really well done, although many will find some lines tasteless. Several other bonuses are also included in the well-presented soundtrack release. Bandcamp consumers will receive a collection of Payday-themed answering machine messages, ring tones, and text message signals. Steam customers will receive some in-game masks bundled with the soundtrack.
From beginning till end, the soundtrack sounds cool, tense, and adrenaline-pumping. It’s a refreshing change of pace and style from the majority of today’s scores. Those that have a taste for rock and electronic stylings will certainly find this release worth their time. Be advised, though, that it is necessary to purchase the entire soundtrack to experience the sfx-free tracks. Available for a mere 5 USD at Bandcamp, complete with other bonuses, it is well worth it.
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Posted on August 1, 2012 by Harris Iqbal. Last modified on August 1, 2012.