In January of 2009, just 6 months after the initial launch of the App Store, Apex Designs released their open-world action game Payback [$4.99 / Free] for iOS. Starting as one man’s passion project to make an homage to the original Grand Theft Auto games for the Amiga, Payback launched on that platform in 2001 and saw ports to Mac, GBA and GP2X in the years that followed. It wasn’t quite up to par with the actual GTA and had its fair share of quirks, but in early 2009 there was really nothing like Payback on the App Store.

Now, pushing on 4 years after the original iOS release, Apex is in the midst of crafting a sequel to Payback. However, since that first game came out we’ve been treated to a number of great sandbox games, not the least of which includes official (and downright fantastic) ports of Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars [$4.99 / Free] and Grand Theft Auto III [$4.99] from Rockstar. Payback 2 won’t be able to get by on just novelty alone in this day and age, it’s going to have to bring an experience that you can’t get by playing the other guys.

In the first of what should be several Dev Diary entries on the Apex Designs blog, the team talks about just how they’ll be doing that. First, the campaign will now be event-based, with the ability to create and customize your own events as well as the return of Rampage mode from the original where you basically just run amok destroying stuff in the city. They also tease new weapons like auto-turrets and lasers, and the inclusion of new game modes, but don’t want to give away too many details just yet.

Next they talk about the new artificial intelligence in the game, which should help make the events feel more dynamic and challenging. There will also be some form of multiplayer, whether online or just local, which can be a mixture of both AI bots and real players. After the impressive AI seen in the multiplayer shooter Trigger Fist [Free] last month, I’m now a believer that you can have some truly great times playing against computer controlled opponents.

Finally, they go into some detail on the graphical end of Payback 2. You might remember the iOS hardware at the time of the original Payback didn’t have great 3D capabilities, so the game was actually rendered by software instead of hardware since it performed far better that way. Not this time around. The team has bit the bullet and rewritten the engine from the ground up for the now quite powerful iOS hardware, and it should show with Payback 2.

I’m very curious to see how Payback 2 is going to turn out, as I spent a ton of time with the original and it really blew my mind back then. We are in such a different iOS landscape now, though, it’ll be interesting to see how Payback 2 is able to adapt and offer a compelling experience over the first game as well as the competition. Based on screens it looks like they’re off to a good start, and we’ll bring you any new information on Payback 2 just as soon as it becomes available.

  • 11LBG11

    The original Payback was a great game back in the day. I liked it more than Car Jack Streets.

    Payback 2 is looking good, although it'll really have to do something special if it wants to compete with the two GTA games already on the App Store.

  • menom

    Payback was great - had some really nice lighting effects and it didn't take too long to get to a variety of weapons - so fun to be had early on.

    I still have payback on my iPhone - but haven't played for some time as most of my gaming is on the iPad these days

    The GTA games are a bit more polished but there wasn't much between them and Payback in terms of fun so Payback 2 will be checked out for sure - (although by the sounds of it they may not be supporting my old iPad 1 - if they're maximising hardware rendering.)

    • Mike

      You can't be serious that there isn't much difference between Payback and GTA...

      Someone confiscate this person's comment card, please.

      • menom

        There wasn't much between them in terms of fun.

        You do know how to read sentences, don't you?

      • ImJPaul

        I'm sorry man but I'm with him. GTA is lightyears ahead of any of the millions of clones that have been modeled after it. Sometimes developers take a great idea and add onto it and make it better and better. Most of the time there's just nothing like the original. This definitely stands true with any grand theft auto game. Keep your comment card. I'm sure even you and the guy you are arguing with will agree on something down the road.

  • Matthew Rossman

    Really glad a mobile sandbox game is finally trying out multiplayer. Looks like the next GTA Chinatown wars, which is a really good thing.

  • mguniverse

    I liked this game, interested in seeing how the sequel turns out.

  • rodgerodger

    "Starting as one man’s passion project to make an homage to the original Grand Theft Auto games for the Amiga, Payback launched on that platform in 2001 and saw ports to Mac, GBA and GP2X in the years that followed."

    That long sentence confuses me. On what platform did Payback launch in 2001?

    • chimpman252

      By "that platform" I'm assuming it means Amiga

      • ducksFANjason

        That's how I read it as well but I could have sworn the first GTA was launched on PS1... Maybe that just my first exposure to it though.

      • icurafu

        It's not GTA.  The first GTA was launched on DOS and then Windows.

    • Jared Nelson

      Sorry, the original Payback was an homage to GTA for the Amiga that launched in 2001, then was ported to Mac in 2003 and GBA 2004. Didn't mean to be confusing.

  • Martin von Randow

    Awesome. Payback was on iPhone was great; I unlocked everything on it once, but then reinstalled at some point and couldn't quite be bothered doing it all again. Really looking forward to this with a new iPhone coming along - it will make that all the better given that my 4 has had a dead screen for several months now.

    I never tried any of the GTA offerings on iPhone, but I felt that Payback's UI worked really well for such a game.