14 Days of Halloween: Killing Lots of Things Has Never Been More Fun – Donny Grimm’s Painkiller Review
The first person shooter genre really took off in the early 90’s when id Software released the iconic game known as Doom. Within months, millions of people were playing. Since then countless game developers have attempted to recreate “Doomclones” (one of the old terms for FPS) with the attitude and environment Doom had created. There are few who can boast accomplishing this feat, but one game can certainly stand above the rest. Painkiller, developed by Dreamcatcher, is definitely a masterpiece of over-the-top mass demon killing, storyline-lacking, and characters as shallow as my wallet. If mimicry is the sincerest form of flattery, then Painkiller flatters the hell out of Doom. The game starts off with a short cutscene dipicting the protagonist taking his wife out for dinner when suddenly the car crashes, promptly sending you to a sort of purgatory where you are told that in order to get back to your wife in heaven, you have to kill the four generals in Lucifer’s army. Well, that what happens when they try to recreate a classic storyline. They make a cliché.
That aside let’s get on to the gameplay. This game is a straight forward shooter. As the player, you will be given the task of killing swarms of enemies with a variety of weapons. Some of the weapons include a grenade launching stakegun, a shotgun that can freeze enemies in place while you unload several buckshots into their midsections, and of course the ever-popular minigun, and this one fires rockets. Your starter weapon is called the Painkiller (hence the name…Painkiller.) This is basically a pinwheel of razors that you push into your enemy’s face until they explode into a fountain of glorious gibage.
Aside from the weapons comes this fancy little power called demon mode. Every time you kill an enemy it will release its soul which you will subsequently absorb. After absorbing sixty-six souls (wink wink, nudge nudge) You will automatically turn into the demon. In your demon form you are an invincible force of immeasurable power. The screen turns a funky black and white colour and you run around making things explode by looking at them. This effect wears off after about fifteen seconds where you can then pull out your rocket-launching minigun and continue creating a similar effect.
Another interesting mechanic in the game is the called the Black Tarot. This adds another level of interest not the game not unlike the par-time in Doom you’re always trying to get but rarely do. By completeing a level under the conditions you will be offered, you will unlock a tarot card. Each tarot card has its own unique effect which will aid you in your quest. These tarot card effects range from boosting your base health or your firing speed, to slowing down time or making you temporarily invincible.
As was said before, what little story this game offers in awful. Don’t expect much in character development or for any of your many questions to be asked, you’ll just be disappointed. The few cutscenes that show up after every boss fight will do nothing to curb your oh-so-abundant thirst for back-story. The maps are almost non-linear. One minute you’ll be fighting in a medieval castle on a snowy hilltop and the next you’ll be in the middle of an Arabian palace. To make this game more than just a “shoot everything in sight and then go to the next room and shoot everything in there too” sort of game. The developers placed hidden treasure in secret rooms that range from ammo to “holy items” that do nothing for you. Having said that there are times when in order to unlock a tarot card you will be asked to find all of these holy items or all of the secret areas or all the ammo and so on and so on.
This isn’t the newest of games so the graphics are nothing to boast about but some of the architecture and simply the size of the levels is incredible. Speaking of size, the bosses in the game reach unspeakable proportions. It was a thrill entering a boss level and seeing nothing a first, but out in the distant fog you see a Behemoth stomp into view and quickly cover the miles of terrain between itself and you. If anything, this game has an unbelievably epic feel to it.
I know I’ve done nothing but bitch and complain about how bad the graphics are and how much the storyline sucks, but the truth is that this game kicks ass. You see hundreds of enemies swarm the battle ground at once and run, screaming in your direction. You take down these epic generals of Hell and watch as their limp lifeless bodies tumble to the ground and every blast from your weapon sends enemies flying into the air.
If you’re a gamer that likes story, you should look somewhere else. However, if you’re a polygonal gore freak looking for their next fix, then you’ve come to the right place. You can find this game on Steam for about ten bucks. Enjoy.
Final Score: 4/5
– Donny Grimm