Fans of the first person shooter genre even if they haven’t played them know games like Doom, Wolfenstein 3D and, after it failed so badly, even non-FPS gamers (and non-gamers) know Duke Nukem 3D which wasn’t much different from it’s massively successful predecessor graphically. Some may say it was a simpler time of gaming when those titles reigned supreme, graphics were good for their time, the story didn’t mean crap it was all about run and gun, shoot anything that moved because it all wanted you dead. There have been sequels to these titles, each with varying success but all with the same formula: fun weapons and lots of things to kill with them. Alongside these titles should be another that true fans of FPS hold close to their hearts but most outside the genre have probably never heard of: Painkiller. It’s idea was simple: give the players cool looking weapons and have them kill everything in sight to Hell and back, literally. The formula worked through add-ons and expansions where it just gave you more scenery and more killing because that is what players wanted, back then at least. Now about eight years later does a sequel for the game stand a chance with today’s players or will it become Painkiller: Hell To Play?
Our hero of yore is back again, killing time in Purgatory pissed at how he kept getting jacked over in previous encounters with anything he didn’t shoot. So when a new entity approaches him, this time Death himself, and offers him a way to reunited with his wife he tells Death off right quick. Then he thinks about how bored he is and decides what the hell? Even if he doesn’t get back to his beloved Catherine at least he can kill some time killing. Jaded and pissed off fits Daniel Garner just fine as he locks, loads and causes things to explode. Death’s deal? Kill stuff and collect souls. If it sounds like I am spoiling things I’m not, that is all in the first few minutes, after that the storyline takes a backseat to slaughter, and I think sparse story works for better than bad story.
This is where some games went wrong recently, no matter how much even older gamers want to relive the glory days of video gaming genesis they have forgotten just how bad the graphics are compared to their youth. Honestly the graphics on the original Painkiller games were no slouch, coming out only about eight years ago but there is still a marked improvement which was an extremely smart move. It also has a kick ass soundtrack by Ojo Rojo which gets the blood pumping to match the blood splatter.
Ok the first step in making a sequel to a classic is updating the graphics, second is deciding how much of the old formula to stick to. In the case of Painkiller: Hell & Damnation they went back to the old play formula even more than before, give a little back ground and then give wave after wave of enemies. They vary a bit, during Halloween they even had special monsters just for the season, but in the end you take on tons of monsters of varying difficulties then a boss fight. To do it they give you lots of weapons to slice, dice, and anything else you might want to do to an enemy killing wise.
The variety of kills helps the repetition of enemies seem less of a consideration as you care less about what they look like before you kill them and more about a new creative way to take them out. I literally constantly cycled through the weapons, changing attacks on every enemy making goo and bits of them all. This game knows what it is and what players loved about it in the past. Sometimes players just want to play a good old fashion bloodbath and that is what it is. The bosses require a bit of challenge and thought, and finding all the secrets of the game to unlock buffs can be challenging but in the end you can just sit down at this game and play a session of kill everything in sight.
The game is pretty short though playing through again trying to find more things, or in some cases less things just trying to beat the clock, can be rewarding. There is a great co-op mode that allows you to go through the campaign with another player and the game adjusts enemies to match. There is the classic deathmatch and capture the flag multiplayer modes as well to give you an opportunity to splatter other players as fast as you can too in case you like to share your bloodlust and get literally more bang for your buck.
This review is a bit shorter but that is because this game is simple and straight forward, it is a classic FPS updated graphically for today’s gamer. If you remember the days of Doom fondly but still want your Halo style multiplayer Painkiller: Hell and Damnation is a great bridge between the games that made the genre and the play you have come expect. When I feel like just doing lots of creative killing I plan to go back to this game time and again, I really hope they keep up with the holiday themeing too, I could get behind blasting Santa and his elves.