- Painkiller in glorious Unreal Engine 3
- Multiplayer modes including co-op
- Guns and killing stuff, hell yeah!
- Short single player campaign
- Missing levels from original Painkiller
- Headache inducing FOV
Painkiller is one of those games whereby a cult following develops. It may please some that hell’s demons are back in this new incarnation, Painkiller Hell and Damnation. Your quest for souls continues as a pact with Death is made; collect 7,000 souls for a chance to be with Daniel’s beloved Catherine. But the real story here is maiming as many beasties as you possibly can without getting gibbed yourself.
With a graphical uplift courtesy of the Unreal Engine 3, Daniel Garner returns to battle against hoards of demons ala Serious Sam. The story is somewhat loose; the premise of saving the girl is merely an excuse to kick some ass with a myriad of weapons. The use of Tarot cards returns to give you boosts such as slowing down time, at the cost of gold when buying them to add to your stack. Swarms of monsters descend constantly, so any bonuses are happily received. You can expect flying limbs, blood splattering gore and plenty of extremities flying across your screen as you plough through the undead. Monsters include evil looking Tyraels to zombie children wielding kitchen knives. Their screams still ring in my ears as I sucked their souls away. The undead children level is slightly disturbing, with one boy emptying his bladder against the wall while his friends came to maul me to death. Definitely not for the faint of heart.
The question remains whether fans of the original should invest in this new version from The Farm 51. This is where the problem lies. The single player campaign only lasts a total of around 6 hours of play time, which is fairly short. Essentially, 20 levels or so are missing from the original game and what you are left with is a mishmash of various maps cobbled together in a random fashion. There are some tense moments, such as the gigantic boss battle encounters (gigantic as in the bosses themselves are taller than the average skyscraper). There is a question mark whether one would drop the cash, albeit the Unreal Engine 3 does give Painkiller a nicer touch.
The multiplayer mode has been touted as a key feature, with co-op challenges added to the fray but again the issue is content or lack of. There’s only so many times you can do the same killing spree, even if it is with the added fun factor of friends. There are different modes such as capture the flag etc. but I am inclined to feel that the game would have been appreciated more if a true representation of Painkiller was given in the campaign. On top of which, the FOV induced a headache after one or two hours worth of game play. It could just be a problem for myself, but without the option to change it I was left with a tainted experience. In the end, it causes a lot more pain than it manages to kill.
For newcomers and veterans alike, Painkiller Black Edition is more value for money and provides plenty of content in comparison to Hell and Damnation. Having said that, it is still a fun blast in short bursts, but one would feel short changed if they were to invest in this title with the belief of a full Painkiller remake. Painkiller Hell and Damnation is out now for the PC on Steam, with the Mac version coming soon on 14th November.