Painkiller: Battle out of Hell PC Review

One of the most intriguing games that surprised me in 2004 would have been Painkiller. Released in April, Painkiller had critics amazed that a developer could deliver something original and fast paced to set itself apart from other first-person shooters. Now when December rolled around, the first expansion pack to the award winning series debuts and the question is, does it add to what the first started back early in spring? Read on to find out my full impressions of Painkiller: Battle out of Hell.

Gameplay
Painkiller: Battle out of Hell picks up right where the original left off. Daniel has escaped Alastor (demon that has taken over for Lucifer after Daniel defeated him) and with the help of Eve, he has returned to Purgatory to combat Alastor’s armies once again. Daniel must figure out how to defeat the most powerful demon in the afterlife and destroy his armies of darkness. Still honoring what the first had with presence of its level design, the game is pretty much straight forward as you wreck havoc throughout your journey to destroy Purgatory.

The expansion gives Daniel the availability of new weapons to use at his own disposal. Also new would be two new multiplayer modes and a 10-level single-player campaign. Besides that, there is quite a bit more that was unexpectedly added also. Quite a few new enemies were added as also the graphics were touched up to meet expectations. I will cover that in just a small bit.

The new weapons that have been added include an SMG/Flamethrower and a Boltgun/Heater. For those who haven’t played the original, each gun has a primary and secondary use. The SMG/Flamethrower is among my favourites as the SMG is now one of the most useful guns in the series as it’s easy to use and control. The Flamethrower helps to clear out small sections that stand in your way. The Boltgun/Heater is a unique combo also. The Boltgun fires five stakes at one time while the Heater sends out charges that bounce off the enemies that deliver some damage to groups at a time.

The 10 new levels prove to be quite creative. The atmosphere of the levels capture what was available with the original and they continue to capture the theme of the game in every level. The levels are creepy, eerie and dark to give you the feeling of being alone in Hell (which in fact you are if you consider yourself not a demon). The enemies are now more diversified, with evil clowns to fight, psychopathic doctors, dragonflies, little boys and girls that are possessed and some gremlins that stand in your way. There are tons of new enemies and all of them bring a refreshing look at taking out the demons in Hell.

In terms of how the game plays, it is exactly identical to the original with Black Tarot cards, Gold, Goals at each level and no reloading. If you hated the first, you will still not like how this game plays as it didn’t change at all with how you play it. I in fact loved the game and love how it still compares to the original with how it plays so closely to the original.

Graphics
They have added new visual effects such as heat and haze distortion that are gladly welcomed. The per-pixel specular mapping does in indeed also make its debut to improve in game graphics of course. What hasn’t been added though and still the game sorely needs is an overhaul on the cut-scenes. They are still terrible and horribly lip-synched. You can see the visual differences but with the lack of update with adding more cut scenes (only two in the entire game if I am not mistaken), they could have used that update to make it well rounded in the graphics department.

To play the expansion you’ll need a 1.5 GHz CPU, 384 MB RAM, 2.6 GB of hard drive space, and a 64 MB DirectX 8.1 video card. Also you’ll want to have a DirectX 8.1b Sound card too. What’s recommended is a 2.4 GHz CPU, 512 MB Ram, 2.6 GB of hard drive space, and a 128 MB DirectX 9 video card. You’ll also need the original to play the expansion since it is required.

Sound
The sound hasn’t been touched up too much. New sounds of course are attached to the new guns, the enemies do have some different sound effects but it’s all too similar. If you have a great sound system, maybe you’ll enjoy the misty and dark sounds but it’s not an overwhelming improvement at all. The lack of quality voice-overs still hurts the game and with the bad lip-synching, it’s easy to notice. Hopefully if they plan on introducing another expansion pack, the audio will be focused on a little more than it was with Battle out of Hell.

Lifespan
They have added new multiplayer modes like I mentioned above. Capture the Flag is included and it’s naturally team-based. The flag isn’t exactly a flag but rather take each other’s token skulls. It’s a small twist but nothing drastic that will have you amazed. The other multiplayer mode is Last Man Standing which is an individual game. You have a life limit and once you run out, you are done with the game. You will become a spectator at the end of your life count and the one with at least one life remaining wins the match.

With levels for the multiplayer combat, not too many were added though. What was also added was aggravating platform jumping. With this addition, if you happen to fall off, you can say good-bye to Daniel as he will die. This addition is a disappointment and so is the lack of multiplayer levels.

Overall

Closing out the review, Painkiller: Battle out of Hell did a great job with the expansion but still sorely lacks in some areas. The developers need to spruce up the cut-scenes, add more multiplayer levels, continue to improve on their audio and voice-overs, and work on the plot a little more and the next Painkiller will for sure provide a wonderful experience. For now, if you didn’t like the first Painkiller, avoid the expansion pack as it’s more of the same. If you love the original, the expansion does the game justice with continuing to capture what the first offered.

8 out of 10
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