Let’s face it, First Person Shooters rule the gaming world at the moment, they’re even huge enough to contend with Hollywood giants. They star famous actors, use great cinematic set pieces in stories written by some of the greatest writers around, all while tackling serious matters. Weapons are as accurate as possible, each title having its own military specialist on hand for development accuracy.
This wasn’t always the case however, I remember some time back when PC gaming was the only place to be with the allure of its hit titles like Doom, Quake 3 Arena and Unreal Tournament. These games were great fun, not because they were Gritty, Bafta Award winning concepts. No, these games were great because they were huge amounts of fun, pitting you against waves of enemies and even your friends with ridiculous off the wall weapons that shattered and splattered your foes into a billion, blood soaked pieces.
This is exactly what Painkiller Hell and Damnation wants to bring back into the fold. Luckily I managed to get some hands on time with the game before its May 31st release.
As Painkiller began with a rather cool, noir style intro into the world (think Max Payne meets The Darkness with a bit of Quake thrown in for good measure) I was soon in control of Daniel Garner, who after dying in a terrible car crash along with the love of his life Catherine, finds himself trapped in purgatory. Lost and alone, Death comes to bargain with Daniel offering him the chance to see his wife again for the sum of 7000 measly souls and this is when the carnage begins.
Each level plays like an arena of death, throwing hordes of unrelenting enemies at you, with no cover system to save you. Yes a doddle I’m sure you’ll be thinking but this is stripped back shooting at its finest, there aren’t any weapon upgrades or health packs here, shoot until you’ve laid waste to your enemies or died trying.
The weapons ranged from classics such as a rather beefed up sawn-off shotgun. the simple but painful stake gun to the ridiculous soul-catcher, which looks like something Ghost Rider himself would be proud of, while firing both saw blades and ripping the souls from enemies with a flash of green light.
This by far was my favourite thing about Painkiller, the massive list of over the top (and I’m sure physically impossible) weapons available, my personal number one being the grinder which acts like a fan of death that can also detach and fly around the room.
In a big nod to old school shooters, every weapon has a secondary fire, something that has been missing from FPS titles as of late (it is getting rather tiresome knowing that no matter what you play, grenade is “that” button) with the shotgun for example, offering you a freeze shot, which will save your life when you need to slow up the hordes, ready for you to blast them into tiny pieces.
After battling waves of nasties, before you can make it through a portal to your next destination, you’ll have to tackle each level’s huge (and I do mean huge) boss which again resemble everything from days gone past.
While throwing everything I had at the gargantuan demon troll blocking my way, I still had to face off against more of the game’s normal horde. This however is where I discovered Demon Mode, after you’ve collected enough souls the screen begins to flash into what is essentially god mode. You’ll see no HUD, no weapons, just your enemies highlighted in bright red ready to be pulled into pieces when you hit the trigger.
It’s safe to say I truly enjoyed my time with Painkiller: Hell and Damnation, but that’s not to say it’s without its drawbacks. The biggest glaring problem for me is what the game leaves out. You see Painkiller has actually been around for sometime, there was once even an Xbox iteration of it. This release is a bit of a mixture between a remake and a sequel so it does leave out some of the expansion packs that our neighbours on the PC will be enjoying, but at the same time this is essentially a greatest hits of those expansions so you’ll still be getting the cream of the crop. The graphics are another area which may disappoint some, as while Painkiller looks good and goes all out with its over the top theme, these aren’t the greatest graphics you’ll ever see. No one’s pushing the Xbox to its limits here.
These things aside, if your after an old school blood bath experience the Painkiller looks on track to be the game for you. I know I can’t wait to be Death’s reaper and tear the souls from anyone in my way, let’s just hope the Multiplayer does the game justice, as this is where I think Painkiller will make or break itself. Who wouldn’t want a fresh online shooter, which prides itself on pure carnage instead of realistic weapons and teams?
Check back for more soon and we’ll give you our final verdict, until then you’ll have to wait patiently.
Painkiller Hell and Damnation will be ready to cure your headaches on May 31st.