Ahhh Painkiller. That trusty old friend that you can always rely on to buy you a beer and make sure you have a good night out. He won’t spring for spirits, and if a bar plays the music too loud he’ll refuse to enter, but he’ll stand by you and make sure you at least enjoy yourself. Have I laboured that metaphor enough? I think so. I’m trying to get across that Painkiller: Hell & Damnation is brilliant in its own way but it doesn’t excel anything. Hopefully that came across through my attempt of making that meta comparison.
For those who are unaware, Painkiller: Hell & Damnation is a remake of the two most popular Painkiller games – Painkiller, and Painkiller: Battle Out of Hell. I love the Painkiller series, and its long lost brother Serious Sam, because it’s a genre of game which is so damn difficult to dislike. If you enjoy shooters in almost any way then you’ll find something you’ll like about Painkiller HD (I remain unsure if that abbreviation option was done on purpose or not). They give you 14 levels, some ridiculously over-the-top boss battles, a crate full of ludicrous weaponry, and set you free to kill stuff dead. It’s not a unique concept but it’s a damned satisfying one.
There’s also co-op throughout the whole campaign, as well as both PvP and PvE. PvP has the standard array of Deathmatches, team and free-for-all, and Capture the Flag, while PvE is a co-op effort with Survival – a Painkiller style horde mode. There is also a totally kick ass soundtrack to play all this to. Seriously, if you’re a fan of Iron Maiden, Megadeth, Slayer, or anything similar then you will feel right at home with this game’s soundtrack.
My harshest comments around Painkiller: Hell & Damnation, though, revolve around the variety. I am aware that while I enjoy this sort of “kill everything dead” style FPS games, they’re not for every FPS fan as they are not the most substantial of all shooting games. They’re bloody fun, they’re awesome in their own way, but when it’s 2012 and an HD re-release is made it has to be judged based on today’s standards and it’s relevance today. Nordic Games have already expressed an interest in releasing new games in the Painkiller franchise and I will definitely be keeping my eye out for those, but Painkiller fills a more niche market than it would ever care to admit and for that it does have to drop a point.
However, my overall conclusion? Bloody fun. Lots of blood, too. I would definitely recommend it to anybody who loves the Painkiller/Serious Sam franchises, and would urge anybody who finds the, heavily bragged about, simplicity appealing to give it a shot. If you’re expecting anything even slightly above killing stuff dead then your money is better spent elsewhere. That’s not what Painkiller claims to deliver and nor will it do so. I had fun, it was a terrific, week-long romp, and I look forward to the next game in the franchise.