Painkiller PC Review

In the age of all the great first-person shooters, names like DOOM, Half-Life, and Unreal Tournament draw a lot of attention from the masses. There’s barely any room for new and original FPS titles so it came to be a surprise that when Painkiller was released, that it was actually captivating to hold onto its own fan base. Dreamcatcher and People Can Fly strayed away from repeating what other FPS commonly include in their games and gave us a fast FPS that is refreshing for the genre.

The plot of Painkiller pits you in the role of Daniel Garner. The story begins with a lot of bad luck for Daniel as he and his wife get into a fatal accident that takes both of their lives. Daniel finds himself in a dark afterlife that resembles a purgatory of sorts and must fight to survive the afterlife. A messenger named Sammael approaches Daniel and offers him a deal that would allow him to have eternal life with his wife. Daniel of course couldn’t deny that offer but the offer is one that will be remembered for a long time. Daniel must kill four powerful generals from Hell that lead Satan’s army. Talk about a large task at hand.

Gameplay
There are 24 levels that are cleverly designed and have their own unique feel to them. The game moves fast and it feels like the action never stops. You’ll travel from point A to point B with your path of destruction left behind you. Kind of sounds oh so familiar but in all reality, it’s refreshing and unique. The stage layout may fall in the predictable category but you’ll never have time to search and investigate the levels as all of Hell is being thrown at you. The game best compares to Serious Sam but with nasty creatures that could fit right into the storyline of DOOM 3. From zombies, dark ninjas, monks, banshees, ghosts, samurais, and hell bikers, demons of all sorts will stand in your way from your quest to grant Daniel his eternal life.

The controls may seem to be run of the mill but it’s so fast that it’s acceptable. The standard W, A, S, and D keys will be your movement and strafing. The Space Bar is the jump command while the left mouse button is of course to fire your primary weapon. The secondary weapon is the usual right mouse button so that’s no surprise there. The whole fact that you have to move and fire in succession so quickly, that’s a huge change. You aren’t allowed to sit for more than 45 seconds because you’ll be dead before you know it.

Another deviation from other FPS titles is that Painkiller threw out the reloading feature and went back to the old classic style. If you have 52 shots left, you are allowed to shoot all of them consecutively until 0 are left. This is great to incorporate into a fast game such as Painkiller as the enemies are in the hundred count of how many they throw at you for each level. Each of your guns has a primary and secondary firing feature so that too can help out immensely as you may end up running out of primary and still can continue to shoot your primary. Even your melee weapon (called “the Pain”) has a secondary weapon that allows you to cut through the enemies with a laser of sorts.

When you kill a monster, a soul is left behind. These souls can contribute to some of the best moments in the game as when you collect 66 (how ironic), Daniel will become a raging demon for a certain time period that he will destroy anything in his path. This comes in handy as you may feel overwhelmed at times and just want to annihilate anything in your path. The monsters will be ripped apart and incinerated right before your own hands, and it feels incredible just to tear them to shreds. I must say, this game is quite entertaining if you haven’t noticed my compliments so far.

Throughout the levels you can pick up gold by destroying objects that you interact with in the levels. That gold will allow you to use your “Black Tarot” cards. These cards are awarded to you after you complete an objective when finishing a level. The Black Tarot cards award you more health, half damage, and other various buffs to increase your status while playing the game. Certain objects include finishing the level with one gun, killing all creatures in a level, destroying all objects and various other objectives. The Black Tarot cards help out tremendously when you are in a bind and are numerously outnumbered.

Graphics
The graphics engine is the Havok 2.0 graphics engine. Some may be use to enemies dropping to the floor and staying there, but the Havok 2.0 engine sends the enemies and the surrounding environment flying when you knock them off their feet. The environments are entirely destructible and even interactive. If you are to kill an enemy with a blast that knocks him into a spike, not only will he smash into the spike, he’ll actually stick to that spike as he lays their dead in his tracks. The graphics engine is impressive to say the least and it’s a total blast to kill the enemies and watch them fly, bounce, tumble and back flip into the environment.

To play Painkiller, you’ll want at least a 1.5 GHz CPU, 384 MB RAM, 1.2 GB of space on your hard drive, and a 64 MB Direct X 7 video card. What’s recommended to play this game is 2.4 GHz CPU, 512 MB Ram, 1.2 GB Space available and a 128 MB Direct X 9 video card. The game is beautiful with lighting, shadows, and character designs so you’ll want a great video card and high end PC to play this game. This falls behind only Far Cry, Half-Life 2, and DOOM 3 as some of the best looking FPS action on the PC. You will want this if you are die hard graphics freak.

Sound
The sound isn’t exactly outstanding but it does it’s job. The music gears up heavy rock tunes that play while you travel through the levels. The weapon sounds aren’t bad at all but the music should have been well rounded. Voice-overs seem to be a minuscule point to the action as it only appears in the cut scenes of the game. The voices aren’t bad but there should have been more to add to the game. The sound doesn’t enhance Painkiller as much as the graphics do. The sound should always be apart of the 1-2 punch to go along with the graphics but Painkiller seems to have more of 1 punch with the graphics followed by the fast action that could fit in as the second punch to keep this game interesting.

Lifespan
The last thing I’d liked to talk about before giving my closing comments is the multiplayer which is among many PC gamers’ topic of discussion when buying their FPS games. There are five different game modes available for multiplayer mayhem. ‘Free-for-All’ which is your classic Deathmatch that has everyone looking out for themselves of course if included. With the regular Deathmatch being included, Team Deathmatch is indeed there for those who love to work cooperatively. The other three are original match modes to Painkiller and each has their own unique rules. ‘People Can Fly’ mode is named after the developer and has the players using Rocket Launchers and Chain guns to kill your opponents. The only way you can kill your opponent is when the player is airborne. There are only two maps available for this mode and they are exclusively for the ‘People Can Fly’ mode. The next one is ‘Voosh’ which starts everyone out on an even playing ground with players haveing the same weapon and infinite amount of ammunition. No weapons are included on the map but during intervals, the weapons will change in your hands and change the game entirely on how it’s played. The last mode is ‘The Light Bearer’ which is a Juggernaut type match where one player is beefed up extremely with power ups and players must unite to bring him down. After he is dead, the player that successively took down ‘The Light Bearer’ will in turn become the bearer with full power ups and go on his/her own rampage.

Overall

Painkiller is invigorating and totally refreshing for the FPS genre. Not only do I recommend you play this, but the expansion is out and I suggest you pick that up too to add to the fun you’ll be having when you buy this title. I can’t wait for the console version of Painkiller if Dreamcatcher does decide to finally bring this to the home consoles, especially for those players on Xbox Live and other online services to enjoy thoroughly as I am right now with my PC. A must buy for anyone.

9 out of 10
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