Originally released back in 2004, Painkiller was a first person shooter for the PC which was light on story and heavy on blasting hell spawn. Painkiller: Hell & Damnation remakes the 2004 release (and adds content from add-on pack Battle Out of Hell) with a shiny Unreal 3 engine and some extra story content to allow the remake to also take the part of a sequel of sorts.
There’s a hokey intro featuring protagonist Daniel Garner making a deal with Death to retrieve 7000 souls in exchange for his wife. It’s badly acted and over the top, but it sets the tone for what follows effectively enough.
Painkiller’s gameplay can quite easily be summed up: shoot all the things. Sometimes the things appear in front of you. Sometimes the things are behind you. Occasionally, the things are very large, and other times small. Most of the time there are lots of things to shoot, and the things almost always run directly towards you. The same crunchy heavy metal loop plays while you shoot the things. When all the things are dead, the music fades out and you collect the bullets and the armour and the spinning green things. Then you move on through a red waypoint, and you get to shoot more things. And more things. There’s seemingly no end to the things you get to shoot.
As is the way of these sorts of first person shooters, you’re drip-fed new guns to shoot the things with. Most of these guns (some of which can’t really even be described as guns, such as the spinning blade which has more in common with a launchable lawn mower than a gun) offer entertaining ways to shoot the things. It’s the guns that keep things interesting, but ultimately the novelty of those wears off.
Each level offers you some new scenery in which to shoot the things. And for the most part, the new engine offers some nice eye candy to distract you from the endless hordes of monks, knights, and other vicious beasties. The huge boss battles are impressive in scale, but also ultimately result in more blasting and back-peddling until either you or the beast you’re facing down is dead.
There are multiplayer modes to enjoy if you’re looking to slaughter some more intelligent adversaries with Painkiller’s entertaining arsenal, which can provide an amusing distraction from the main event.
If you like to shoot endless hordes of monsters with an amusing and entertaining array of silly weaponry, then Painkiller: Hell & Damnation is exactly what you’re looking for. Maybe you have fond memories of the original, in which case the remake will offer few surprises, but an enjoyable walk back down the lanes of recent gaming history. If you expect to be facing enemies who actually think for themselves, and fancy some variety in your FPS, then you’ll want to look elsewhere.
When all is said and done you can get some cathartic mindless blasting action for a very reasonable price (the RRP on the PS3 iteration is a mere £24.99). If you set your expectations to “old school” and “mindless” you should have some fun.