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Review – Painkiller Pandemonium | Level Up News

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Review – Painkiller Pandemonium




Developers: People Can Fly, Mindware Studios, JoWood Group
Platform(s): PC
Genre: First Person Shooter
Rating: M – Mature 17+
ESRB Content Descriptors: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Language
Players: Single player campaign, Up to 16 players for online multiplayer
Official site: http://www.painkillergame.com/  


 The Scoop:  Painkiller: Heaven Has a Hitman , was originally released in 2004 as a loving tribute to early PC first person shooters like Doom and Quake.  Like those games, Painkiller’s gameplay is simplistic: the enemy AI is dumb as toast, and the story is a horrible mess.  But early PC FPSs were about killing lots of evil in very satisfying ways and thankfully Painkiller does this very well.   

Painkiller Pandemonium is a collection of the entire series including the original game and its follow-ups, the expansion pack Battle out of Hell, and two sequels, Overdose and Resurrection.  It is a great economical way for newcomers to get an immediate collection, but unfortunately, there is nothing new for veteran players of the franchise.   

The Setup:  After dying in a car accident, along with his wife, Daniel Garner finds himself in purgatory where an archangel informs him Lucifer is ready to wage war on heaven.  It is up to Dan to step up and stop Lucifer, and the story doesn’t get much deeper than that.  The ending of the first game is a bummer of a cliffhanger unless you play through on the hardest difficulty setting.  Overdose and Resurrection both take place in purgatory as well, but they are spinoffs with different protagonists.  (The expansion pack Battle out of Hell only brings Dan back long enough to get him to another cliffhanger.)   

As disappointing as the story is, it is not an important part of the game and never gets in the way of the action.  You will not search for a key, solve a puzzle or bump into a single friendly character.  You are at point A. You need to get to point B.  Kill everything that tries to stop you.    

So you're NOT happy to see me.

What’s hot:  What does try to stop you is dimwitted enemy AI that will mix it up a bit with the odd range attack or shield defense, but they mostly come directly at you with heavy melee attacks.  This might sound incredibly boring, but the enemies do have an intimidating look to them.  Samuris, medival skeletons, mad monks, and even zombies relentlessly get in your face to ensure a bit of sweat between you and your PC’s mouse.    

Thankfully, Painkiller gives you a full arsenal of weapons to deal with these jokesters.  You do get your standard shotgun, which does a good job of spraying the blood and guts around, but the golden fun is with the game’s unique weapons.   

Your default “melee” weapon is the “Painkiller” itself.  It has six spinning blades on its end, which can turn enemies into flying bits of gore.  If that wasn’t enough it has a secondary attack, which will anchor a laser between you and pretty much anything in the environment.  Hook it onto a wall behind the oncoming foes and then let them fry when they walk through the beam.    

The Chaingun/rocket launcher has to be one of the most powerful weapons in a first person shooter because it gives you the same arsenal as an F-14 Tomcat.  The “Electrodriver” shoots shurikens and lightning.  Yes, shurikens and lightning.  You can even combine the two to stick an electrified shuriken into the floor and let it shock enemies as they approach you, which reminded me a lot of a plasmid in BioShock.  The stake gun will pin enemies against walls, floors and ceilings and its secondary attack allows it to double as a grenade launcher.  Pretty flippin’ cool.   

Shurikens and Lightning!

All of this over-the-top action never becomes too cartoony thanks to the game’s engine and its realistic physics.  The original’s graphics still hold up playing with a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is no small feat for a seven-year-old game.   

What’s Not:  The Painkiller sequels are a bit of a mixed bag and do not hold up to the original.  The developer, People Can Fly, was not involved in making them and they do lack the enhancements a sequel should have.  The direct sequel, Overdose, began as a fan-made mod and you can tell there was no messing around with original formula.  The weapons have been tweaked a little, and enemy AI have a different look, but you definitely get the feeling of “déjà vu all over again”.  The new protagonist is quite annoying with about six repeated catch phrases such as, “Tastes like Chicken”, he will say every time he picks up a soul left behind by a defeated enemy.  Every. Time.  The unbalanced easy-breezy one minute, tough-as-nails the next gameplay can be frustrating as well.    

Overdose plays like a dream when compared to Resurrection, though.  By far, Resurrection is the prettiest of the three and the most unplayable.  My PC crashed a lot while playing, forcing me to sit threw some ridiculously long load times to get back into the game.  From what I have read this was a problem when the game was originally released in 2009 and it is unfortunate a patch was not included here.  In all honesty, I only gave the game a couple of hours (which added up to about 80 minutes of gameplay) and I’ll revise this review if a proper patch is ever released to fix the bugs.   

Final Verdict:  Besides Resurrection’s problems, the rest of the box set is solid action.  If you haven’t played a Painkiller game yet this is a good place to start.  Heaven Has a Hitman, Battle out of Hell, and Overdose are all worth playing, and the price this box is set to save you a few dollars.   



Review - Painkiller Pandemonium, 4.3 out of 5 based on 3 ratings

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