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Ever had that feeling where you don't feel like going into that long ass RPG? Where your brain doesn't function well enough for a deep, story driven game filled with dialogue. Do you lack the patience for adventure games where you have to solve puzzles to proceed, yet you enjoy finding hidden secrets? Do you just want to jump into a game and shoot something... but don't want to have to deal with flamboyant storytelling, keycards and stuff? Perhaps you need to take a few Painkillers to bring yourself back up to shape... or perhaps just one. Painkiller is simply put a no nonsense FPS with attitude that does what every other FPS seems to fail to do, keep things simple and just shoot everything. As a result, Painkiller is a very accessible game for everyone, so long as you don't mind a bit of gore. It's one of those games which you pick up and play when you're burnt out of playing certain games, particularly rpg's. Painkiller was a breath of fresh air, something every gamer needs every now and again.
Now i know what you're thinking, yet another Painkiller review, yet another so-so. Actually, no, sure the other two games i reviewed had their issues, but they were still great games. The original Painkiller on the other hand is fine. The reason being that the two other games i reviewed previously were by completely different developers and whilst Overdose was a fun and enjoyable game, it did have it's issues which held it back. The first Painkiller on the other hand is quite possibly one of the best FPS out there imo, now a lot of people are probably looking at me baffled right now considering the fact that games such as Half Life and such exist but Painkiller is a completely differrent breed of FPS, it's not COD, it's not Half Life, heck it ain't even Doom... and that's the closest i can come to.
Painkiller is essentially Devil May Cry if it was a first person shooter in the sense that when you walk into a room, the doors seal behind you and baddies flood the room ready to be slaughtered. Though to be honest, it felt more like Chaos Legion due to the scale of things. That is basically the game in a nutshell and that is all it needs to be. There is no other FPS that can equal painkiller in it's execution, Painkiller's sense of style places it above all other FPS imo.
So the gameplay is plain simple shoot everything, move on to the next area, shoot everything again, rinse and repeat. There are several weapons obtainable in Painkiller what can help dispatch many of the foes you'll find throughout the game, now being the first game in the series, there aren't as many weapons as the other games reviewed but if you read them, you know what to expect. The Painkiller itself is basically link's clawshot but with a laser connecting it to the launcher. It's a melee weapon and a ranged weapon with no ammo requirement which is a deadly weapon in itself in the right hands. The ranged shot itself can basically 1 shot most enemies and you'll either find yourself loving it or hating it. The Painkiller requires skill to master as it can be slow to use but the laser can be devastating when used at the right time. It has so many functions for a starter weapon i can't even begin to describe it. Eventually you'll find yourself with what seems to be a conventional shotgun but it also comes with a freezer which slows down enemies and allows you to shatter them with 1 hit, who's laughing now?
The weapons definitely give you the edge against your enemies but they aren't your only tool. You also have Tarot cards, or in other words your trump card. Gold cards can be activated at any point (so long as you aren't in demon morph which i'll get to later) however they can only be used once until you finish the level. Silver card effects are constant and can assist you with little things such as extra health. This adds a little management to the game which i enjoyed considering the fact that i enjoy rpg's a lot.
On lower difficulties, enemies drop souls upon death, you can collect these souls to increase your life by 1 each time, this encourages players to move around rather than just camping with a shotgun, you will often have to bunnyhop and weave your way through enemies to get the souls then continue the fight keeping the combat more varied. On Trauma though, souls are absent and require a different approach. Collecting 66 souls allows you to morph into a demon (if this ain't Devil May Cry, i don't know what is) which makes you invincible and you can 1 shot everything except bosses.
I must feast on souls!
As well as just shooting baddies, there are secrets to find which can reward you with holy artifacts, armor or a health boost ti give you the edge in future battles, this gives the game something else rather than just shooting and allows you to pace the game to your own liking should you wish to explore the levels in search for these secrets.
Really the question is, does this all sound appealing to you? I cannot really rate the game play as such as it is what it is and it does it's job well enough. Thing is though, Painkiller is not for everyone, some may get bored of the repetition throughout the game, others will never tire of it. All of the weapons are satisfying to use, the ai could use a little work but they still prove to be quite challenging at times, aside from that, the game play is fine but i couldn't give it a perfect rating, to some it will be near flawless, to others it will be majorly flawed. It all depends on what you are looking for in an FPS. If you're looking for Half Life, you wont find it here but if you just want to shoot some bad guys, you might enjoy this game a lot. Painkiller is a very down to earth game making this review kinda pointless in a way but it does what it says on the box and you'll know whether or not it's for you the instant you see it, you can probably watch some game play video's to get a good idea of whether or not you'll enjoy it (sadly i can't capture video's on my pc so i can't make one).
Painkiller is one of the many games that surprised me, i don't think any FPS has attached me as much as Painkiller. All the levels are iconic and well designed. The art style is very unique and brings the game to life, it really makes good use of the Pain engine and is probably the best looking FPS of all time, period. You get your classic gothic levels at the start, following up with some more urban settings and the latter half of the game gets even more bizzare, particularly the final level, that is simply put a work of art. In case you haven't already got the gist, Painkiller is a game which involves killing demons, making your way to the bowels of hell to kill Lucifer himself. If you like this sort of horror/fps style, you will probably love this game. One level in particular is pretty damn creepy and the lighting really adds to the immersion. Lighting is a huge strong point in this game.
I get cranky when i haven't been fed...
Story wise, don't expect much, there are cut scenes after every chapter boss, which there are 5 of them in total. The game can feel a little disorientating at times, especially when you go from a creepy madhouse to an alpine bridge. That aside, every chapter seems to have it's theme, though chapter 2 felt a bit more varied. At least Overdose used the time travel excuse though sometimes i don't even think the story really mattered, heck i strongly believe the story was written after the game and whilst it was nice to see a few cutscenes along the way, it doesn't really amount to much else. There is a secret ending though if you beat Trauma.
The soundtrack really sets itself apart from other fps. Painkiller is the F-Zero X of shooters. The music generally consists of metal and whilst Hell and Damnation's soundtrack felt uninspired, i actually really enjoyed the soundtrack of the original's a lot and there are a lot of really memorable songs. It really adds to the style of the game and makes you feel awesome as you blow up enemies heads. If Painkiller has taught me anything it's that more games need metal in them, particularly shooters.
Overall, Painkiller has shown me that shooters have lost their way in the current generation and it's nice to see that they're trying to bring it back, hopefully for the better. There is nothing quite like Painkiller, it's art design and music are quite memorable and the game play enjoyable but it's not everybody's cup of tea. Painkiller won't offer you a deep, engrossing game but it will provide you with a few hours of non stop action. If you like metal and dark horror themes, why haven't you played this yet!? It even puts Brutal Legend to shame.
Lifespan: Quite Short
Worth Replaying? Hell yes
Pretty lazy review but i felt like i've written it like 3 times already. Pretty much every Painkiller game is the same, the original being the best overall.