Painkiller: Hell & Damnation strives to bring back the old but in a new concept which has you playing the old style of FPS games from 10 years ago, but with a new edge and updated graphics, engine and gameplay. Do you really want to take this adventure and fight your way through demons to reach your true goal, or should you avoid it like the plague?
If you’ve played the previous games in this series, then you will most probably know what to expect form this title. If you haven’t, well you’re going to experience something that a lot of people grew up with and the gameplay style that games used to contain. The biggest connection between the old school style shooters and this is the gameplay it’s self. This is almost the perfect throwback title if you’re looking to play games like Quake and Unreal Tournament in a new generation.
Unlike a lot of the old school shooters, most would just have you drive towards some giant boss and have you kill everything on your path, that’s not the case with Painkiller. You’ve been set a task to collect souls, and many you shall collect if you want to complete this title.
I’ve found that the game’s audio is a bit like a roller coaster, at times the production is really clear, well done and interesting. Then other times I find the voice acting to be off-key and out-of-place, as well as the music getting extremely repetitive. As the audio is so up and down at times, it’s hard to take some of the production seriously, but there are a lot higher quality audio moments than there are bad ones.
Even though the games voice over work is a little shaky at times, the music is a highlight if you love heavily metal to go with your killing sprees. With most areas you enter, there’s a lot going on, so the music tends to blend in with endless noise of gunfire and enemies dying, but you will find that balance between too much and just right every once in a while.
One of the big highlights to this title is the visual updates that have been made. The game just looks amazing, it’s highly detailed and a lot of attention has been taken to details of just about everything. In comparison to the early releases the title has been updated extremely well. The game runs very smooth with no issues to frame rates or textures even though they look sharp and high-resolution.
This may not be so for the console releases due to the compression required and limitations consoles have over the PC generation. This is yet to be seen, but I would hope for the same quality in textures and visuals as the PC version, if not slightly lacking due to the texture compression.
The story is simple, but has a slight twist which is revealed towards the end. You will need to make a fair amount of progression to see the short cut-scenes that ties these together, but they’re always revealed after dealing with a giant boss. Once you tie all the snippets together everything starts to make sense, but the game makes you work for the story. The choice of dialog isn’t personally to my taste, but it suites the games style and the old school script writing you would expect to see.
As you start out, the game seems quite straight forward, you need to collect souls and kill everything in your path. But if you didn’t take into account the information surrounding the game, it will punish you, it’s meant to be difficult, as well as provide a challenge. To begin with I had this in mind, but found the game wasn’t so much hard, but more just unfair with the way you have to deal with enemies. A lot of the time you have little to no ammo for you weapons, then you’re bombarded by hordes of enemies. You could think of the game as a sectional arena where you have to fight droves of enemies to complete the checkpoint. This isn’t so much a problem is a minor handicap. If you die, just try to fight in a slightly different way and you will usually win the fight.
The gameplay is simple enough, and the progression you make is slow be somewhat rewarding as you slowly reveal what’s going on and why you’re fighting for your life. You have several weapons with a multitude of alternative firing modes which comes in extremely handy, just don’t go wasting your ammo as you will need it.
If the game is punishing you too much, you can also bring a friend into the fight and enjoy the story mode with an extra set of guns. You do have a rather large selection of multiplayer maps and game mode, but unless you bring some friends these modes won’t be as enjoyable as they should be do the online community being dead.
Painkiller has a lot to offer, even though it doesn’t always hit every requirement to make the perfect shooter. There’s a few quirks and odd things about the game, but it’s the sort of title you either love or hate. The game has so much potential to be great but falls short due to there being a lack of an online community, so just remember, if you want to enjoy this title to it’s fullest, bring some friends and take the fight online.