Painkiller Review

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Graphics: 9.0
Sound : 8.0
Gameplay : 8.0
Multiplayer : N/A
Overall : 8.5
Review by Kurt Knudsen
If you have done any research on Painkiller lately chances are you saw my preview for it. Back when I played it I was pretty impressed. The graphics were quite nice and the physics really added a needed touch to the game.

Now that we have the final version out in stores everywhere, I took another look at the game made me change my pants. The game came off quite nice, it is very fun and quite scary. It does have some flaws, some of which could have been easily avoided.

Graphics:

Graphically the game is the same as the preview and demos, obviously. If you haven’t tried them yet I urge you to give them a spin, and make sure your speakers are turned up. The engine claims it can render an insane amount of polygons per frame and also boasts that no two levels share the same textures.

The levels themselves look great. There is a lot of detail on the smallest things and most levels are cluttered with stuff for you to interact with. The levels are cut off into small sections as you play, to prevent you from escaping but it also allows you to concentrate on one area at a time. Each of these areas can be big or small, depending on the specific mission you are on. Textures on the walls and surrounding objects give off a spooky and gothic look, which adds to the mood the game sets.

Monsters and bosses look incredible. The first minute of the game had me screaming as I was being rampaged by tons of skeletons in armor popping out of the ground. That minute really let me know what to expect from the game, both game play wise and graphically. This is because the game was able to perform the physics and the excellent graphics rendering without any slowdowns on my machine. The monsters themselves range from skeletons to evil witches to even an enemy taken directly from Serious Sam, an exploding zombie; which runs at you with an explosive barrel above its body. The bosses are freaking enormous. These bosses tend to destroy pretty much everything in their path; I think the developers went a bit overboard when creating these guys.

The weapons are what you would expect from reading the previous paragraphs. They are highly detailed and look very nice. I still stand by my statement from my preview, “Hands down some of the best weapon models I have ever seen in any game on any platform.” They look absolutely amazing, and the animation is flawless. Although there are only a few weapons to choose from, they look great and get the job done. The enemy weapons look just as good from your perspective.

As you progress through the game lots of things happen. Wall crumble, things blow up, debris falls from the ceilings of caves. All of these things that you see are jaw dropping. Having several enemies near a perfectly placed barrel and then blowing it up is just too much fun. Bits and pieces of barrel and enemy go flying everywhere, not to mention the big blood spots that litter the floor and surrounding walls.

Overall the graphics give off a spooky aura and really creeps me out. I’m not a fan of scary games, but I found this one surprisingly fun. It has some scary moments, and it has some not so scary moments. Graphically speaking the game should please a lot of people across the board.

Audio:

There is much voice acting in this game besides the beginning cut scene that I saw. The lip sync was pretty bad; it started out good but just got out of whack real fast. This isn’t a big problem really since the cut scene just tells the initial story. But with such high budget games coming out they could have spent a little extra time perfecting that.

The music is really eerie and is probably the most important factor in setting the scary mood. The music consists of some heavy metal, which fits the game perfectly. Who said we need Hip-Hop and other cheeky music in games these days? The music helps you get past those difficult parts where your heart is pounding and your ammo is running dry.

The sound effects in the game sound great; the guns have that certain 'oomph’ that gives it the kick it needs. I’d have to say the sounds are on-spot; they don’t sound too loud or too soft and shallow. Too many games have crappy sound effects for guns, many that sound like popcorn being popped. Painkiller goes well beyond that and offers great quality sounds.

Gameplay:

The story starts off with you and your wife driving down the road. You start flirting with her in the car and low and behold, you slam into a semi. You find yourself in a different world, somewhere between heaven and hell. Your purpose is to find out why you were denied entry into heaven and at the same time kill an onslaught of enemies that are trying to start an unholy war.

The story itself is pretty interesting. As you play you go to different areas and fight off hordes of enemies. Simple as it could possibly be. As far as I have played the story really hasn’t gotten anywhere, but I have heard some bad things which I won’t delve into in fear of ruining the story. There are 5 chapters with 5 levels in each chapter. Some levels have bosses to end the level, some don’t. At the end of a chapter you have to fight a huge, and I mean HUGE, monster. Play the demo if you want to see one of them in action.

First I will start with the good, and then hit you up with the bad.

The game itself is very fun and frightening at times too. It starts off in a cemetery and your first encounter is a bunch of angry skeletons popping out of graves. Your next objective is given to you by your compass at the top of the screen, and as you get closer to it you can hear a heart beating. When you arrive at it you see a red spiral thingy, just walk over it and enter the next area. This works out very well since some levels can be quite large and multi-leveled, so it could be easy to get lost with out that compass. The compass also points to the closest enemy, since a bonus objective might be to kill all enemies.

Some levels end with huge bosses. The bosses require some thinking in order to kill them. Some you have to make them walk into traps, others you have to look at the surroundings and figure out what needs to be done. These monsters are enormous and really show off what the game engine can handle.

Ammo and treasure are scattered throughout the entire level. The chances are running out are slim once you get started. The treasure, gold coins, is used to buy tarot cards. These cards help you in one way or another. Same may slow down a timer, or raise your endurance, etc. You can buy these cards before each level and use them during the game. For the most part these cards are useless, since the game is fairly easy. You can unlock certain cards by completing the extra objectives, such as kill all the monsters, or collect all the treasure.

There are very few weapons to make me happy. The one thing I really look forward to when playing a First Person Shooter is weapons I get to handle. Being only allowed 4 new weapons is kind of a let down. However, each weapon has a secondary fire, but that is so common these days it is nothing to brag about. While the lack of weaponry is a let down their look and power isn’t. They are some of the coolest looking and sounding weapons, and they do what needs to be done very well. I just wish they could have added more weapons.

The game can get repetitive. If you like Serious Sam then you know all about this, but Serious Sam was great fun, mainly due to Co-Op mode. With the lack of Co-Op mode in this game it can be boring, the shock value from all the scary monsters and settings can wear off and become humdrum. Aside from all of that Painkiller still offers some great hits and semi-addictive game play.

Overall I am pretty impressed with the game. It is fun, but it can become boring. The gameplay just doesn’t hook me like other games do. The monsters come at you in large numbers offering a great kill fest, and some scares.

Conclusion:

I enjoyed this game for the most part. Despite the fact that it has some flaws that turned me off I still enjoyed it. The game looks great and offers a style of play that has been done before, but they did a good job reiterating it. Hopefully People Can Fly can make a patch to allow Co-Op, even if the physics aren’t in it, if that happens this game will be over the top.