Painkiller is a great, big, stupid game, and I am OK with that. With the growing popularity of living room gaming hardware over the years, PC first person shooters have started to wane in favor of experiences closer to those found on consoles. Thankfully, the classics remain untouched. Serious Sam has remained true to its roots, and so does Painkiller. Developed by The Farm 51, the latest iteration of Painkiller is a familiar one. Since we never reviewed the game at its original release, we are now taking a look at it, with all of its expansions and newly added goodness. At the end of the day though, Hell & Damnation is exactly what I expected: a big and stupid game that is fun in the right increments.
Hell & Damnation is a reimagining of the original Painkiller developed by People Can Fly. You might have heard of them, as they most recently finished up the latest Gears of War game. This reboot includes the original game with new levels and monsters running on a more attractive engine. Think of it as an HD port on steroids infused with a director’s cut. There is plenty of material here, and it plays like I remember it.
Shooting is the name of the game; lots and lots of shooting. Painkiller is from the old school of game design; walk forward, trigger a flood of enemies and walk backwards mowing down the tide. This is definitely a case of quantity over quality, as enemies come so often and so fast, instinct wins out over thinking. There is no reload button and a severe lack of ammo, which forced me to swap between guns more often that I would have liked.
This occurs in every level, and the tedium gets unbearable at times. Painkiller is the kind of game I like to play for an hour at a time. Thankfully, there are a few things that break up the monotony, and the weapons are fantastic. You have the stakethrower, which pins enemies to walls; the soulsucker, which is pretty self-explanatory and, of course, the return of the Painkiller, which chops up enemies into little chunks in gory HD. The game is never shy about being bloody or demonic for that matter.
Boss battles also stand out among the tedium. Hulking beasts that tower over regular enemies are both unique and entertaining. Sadly, they aren’t that challenging in most cases. I never went into any boss fight with much concern, as circle strafing is a technique that still works in these classic shooters. The only unique feature in this title is the presence of tarot cards. These perks enable special abilities including siphoning life from enemies and absorbing more damage. They can be activated anytime and exchanged out between levels.
If you get bored slaying demons on your own, you can invite a friend in for co-op play. This mode amps up the difficulty, but still remains easier than flying solo. It is also worth noting that there is no indicator for your partner. If you get separated, good luck reuniting. The rest of the multiplayer is fairly standard FPS fare. Deathmatch and CTF modes are dominant, and the pace is fast and frantic, much like the Quakes and Unreals we grew up with. The weapons are insane in multiplayer, and there are instances where I shouted loudly at an insane kill. Sadly, the online wears thin as fast as the core game due to a lack of ingenuity.
There have been two expansions for Painkiller since its release, and I got to play both of them for this review. The first was a multiplayer only expansion called Medieval Horror. This adds new survival mode options for co-op, allowing you to play any portion of maps. There is also a boss rush mode, a new weapon that fires pieces of the environment and new skins for multiplayer: Assassin Greed and White Demon. For the price tag, this is a solid addition if you do play online. If not, the second pack is likely to be more up your alley.
The Clock Strikes Meat Night is one of the most deranged names for an expansion ever. This pack tosses in new co-op maps, two new single player maps, a new tarot card, a new weapon, three new enemies and a partridge in a pear tree. Sure it is a bit pricier, but for what you get, the coin is well spent if you are chomping at the bit for more Painkiller.
Playing this game on PC is a treat, as it supports insanely high resolutions and my Xbox 360 controller. You can go mouse/keyboard combo if you prefer, of course, which actually worked better for me given how twitch-reliant it is. I cranked up the settings, and it handled itself well outside of a few stutters here and there. This is one solid looking game, and if you have the rig I definitely recommend cranking it up to full blast.
Painkiller: Hell and Damnation is exactly what I remember it being: a no-nonsense shooter with countless waves of enemies. Mindless, big, stupid and fun are all apt descriptions. The Farm 51 has done a great job preserving the legacy of the series, and I had a blast in one-hour increments mowing down hordes of demons. PC players that cut their teeth on games like Quake and Unreal should definitely check out this throwback. Despite its shortcomings, Painkiller is well worth it.
Review copy of game provided by publisher. This review covers the core game and both main expansions ‘Medieval Horror’ and ‘The Clock Strikes Meat Night’.
- Motherboard: ASUS P8Z77I Deluxe
- Liquid Cooling: Origin Frostbyte 120 Liquid Cooling
- Processor: Intel i7 3770K with Professional Origin PC Overclocking
- Memory: Corsair 8GB 1600 Mghz Vengeance
- Graphics Card: EVGA NVIDIA GeForce GTX 670