Painkiller Review

Developer: Dreamcatcher Games Publisher: Dreamcatcher Games
Release Date: April 12, 2004 Also On: None

Painkiller has to be one of the most surprising games I have seen this year. At first I thought it looked very stupid, but when I played it, I knew I was undoubtedly wrong. Painkiller brings back the fun mindless fast paced action that the FPS genre was low on for so many years. Sure there was mindless action, fast paced action, and fun action in a lot of FPSs, but it is very unusual for it to be in one package.

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Painkiller’s story is simple. Daniel Garner and his wife are killed in a car crash. His wife goes to heaven, while Dan is stuck in the purgatory (guess he wasn’t that pure). Dan then is offered to go to heaven if he kills 4 of Lucifer’s top generals. Wanting to meet his wife again, he takes up the offer. While it is a cheesy excuse to get a lot of demons into one place and blowing them up, the game focuses on its gameplay rather than its story. In my opinion, this is its biggest flaw. Games that have a ton of action could also have a great story. While this is a huge flaw in a vast amount of games today, Painkiller had the possibility of creating a better story because it does have religious setting, making social commentary (and maybe political?) very possible. If you are looking for a great (or even good) storyline, you will be disappointed.

Painkiller is all about action. I was actually surprised that this isn’t Doom 3! You’ve got your Lucifer’s minions, tons of action, and a near non-existent storyline. All you have to do is take out the whole Daniel Garner/wife thing and add a marine to take his place. The demons in the game don’t have fancy or complicated tactics like in other game rather it is just like the original Doom where multiple enemies try to encircle you and you just blast them away. I couldn’t think of a boring moment in this game.

The control is pretty standard. You use the WASD controls to move, the mouse to aim, and so on. There are a lot of unique guns in this game. There are 5 guns you can operate, each one with a primary and secondary attack. So the chain gun also has a rocket launcher, the shotgun has a freeze ray, and so on. When you kill a demon, you can get its soul. When you get 66 souls (66=666?), Dan can turn into a demon for a short amount of time. When he’s a demon, he can destroy anything in his path. Who says being a demon isn’t good?

The physics in this game are great. I once shot a demon to a wall, and since there was a spike there, he was stuck to it. It almost made me think that I was the evil one in the underworld, not the demons. The objects you see in the game are fully interactive. You get to do whatever you want with them, which is actually very nice. Another plus is that the monsters also get to use the objects lying around.

The graphics are top of the line. Not only are the monsters greatly detailed, the landscapes are also give a very atmospheric feel. The system requirements aren’t that high at the time of me reviewing this game, meaning people with not so recent computers get to play this game (one of the biggest differences between Doom 3), which is just another plus.

The music in this game is mostly hard rock, which a lot of the times fit the game. The only flaw is that the tracks are rather short, so they replay the tracks a lot of times. One feature I did like is that since the game uses an MP3 directory, you can replace an MP3 with another MP3 of your choosing as long as you rename it. I did replace some songs, but I felt that most of the tracks were good enough and didn’t need changing.

A lot of FPS PC games have poor single player campaigns and great multiplayer modes, however, Painkiller seems to be the opposite. It has a great single player campaign, but rather weak multiplayer modes. You’ve got your deathmatch, team deathmatch, and so on. Nothing is terribly original.

If Painkiller had a great storyline and great multiplayer modes in addition to everything that I’ve played in this game, I’d say that it would be one of the greatest games for the PC, and maybe one of the greatest video games ever. Sadly, those two apparent flaws keep it from perfection and only allow me to say that this is one of the best FPSs of the year.

Graphics: 9
Sound: 8.5
Gameplay: 9
Creativity: 7
Replay Value/Game Length: 8
Final: 8.4
Written by Simon Review Guide

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