Reviews of Painkiller

Painkiller Archive

by Artas1984
Review of Painkiller Redemption

It’s just a mod from multiplayer maps of the original game. It’s also the most boring mod i have ever played.

Before reading this review, please read my original Painkiller review - one of my all time favorite games.

So.. How about making a mod from the multiplayer levels of the original 2004 game, filling them with swarms of monsters, and naming it a new Painkiller game with new story and new levels? Great ha?

This is how it is: this game is a mod, in which the original Painkiller multiplayer levels are being used in a non-existant so called "campaign", just filled with huge amount of the same old monsters and items and given the name of a new title: Painkiller Redemption - a sequel to the franchise!

There is no story, there is only an pretentious excuse for it.

There is no campaign, no fluent level steam - just random multiplayer levels from original game are used and all this is called "new 6 levels".

Guess there is no surprise that this is the same 2004 engine.

There is no coop, not even a multiplayer - if you do not know, there is created a free to download original Painkiller multiplayer edition, which has only MP and still requires a cd key. Having this in mind, it is amazingt that this new mod could not incorporate such a thing.

Gameplay formula is like this:

  • You start in a multiplayer map, in a specific section of it, to be specific to the first level - in the megahealt/silver armor room of the map DM_Cursed.
  • Once you move FW, the doors to the next section lock-up, leaving you in that specific place; monsters start to spawn.
  • Lots of monsters will spawn - you will notice that the monsters will keep spawning in huge groups, surrounding you and leaving no room to evade, and they will spawn for a very long time!
  • You have killed many monsters already, but for some reason they just keep spawning in the same area, and despite the fact, that so many minutes have passed already, everything repeats the same again and again - you are still surrounded in that confined place with monstes just spawning..
  • After a very long time bashing lots your foes, you can proceed to the next area, in which the same formula of the first section will reappear.

Basically, there is no freedom of movement, like in real multiplayer maps, where you can go where you want; also the monsters will spawn in such huge quantities, that there won’t be enough space or ammo to counter them all. Not only lots of monsters will spawn - they will keep spawning for a very long time. There are items to collect by the way, as well as secret places, but that is just it.

Is there something else worth telling about this "game"?

Yes - there are 1000 times better mods for other "real games", that this standalone expansion pack. This Painkiller Redemption thing, if it had been made as a free mod, it would not even be in the mediocre list of mods, but as it is released as a real game, it deserves to be forgotten as soon as possible and written as one of the worst sequels to any game of all time.

Review of Painkiller Overdose

PK Overdose just does not have that stuff what makes the original Painkiller a superb game in it’s class.

The developers of the game, Mindware, started out by making this game without the intension of releasing it under the ownership of the publisher, in other words, more like a mod. But in the end it turned out, than Painkiller Overdose is a totally new game to the franchise that brings a fair level of disappointment.

Introduction and story: the player is introduced to a new character, that represents a half devil, half angel like creature - Belial. Intro is shown with graphic pictures rather than with a movie-like scene. There is not much to tell - after you are introduced with Belial’s story and the basic concept of what you will do - you get started just like in the original game - a wheel of time appears, letting you know how many levels there will be, and then you just start with the first one.

Gameplay: you now have totally new weapons and new levels filled with new monsters, and although the core of gameplay and it’s elements remain the same, unfortunately the execution of gameplay is something totally different from the formula of the original game. You move and fight with the same level of furiousness and speed just like in the original game, but now it is both harder and more silly at the same time. Harder it is because the developers made it this way - there feels a total disbalance between your capabilities with the weapons versus what the monsters can do. All the weapons look new, but in fact, act like the original ones just with a "degradation". For example you have a bone made shotgun that fires primary - "bone splinters" and secondary - "fog of slowdown". Basically similar attributes to the original shotgun, but with a worse effect and execution. The same can be said about the new rocket launcher, which fires 3 rockets instead of 1; in fact the new 3 missiles deal the same damage as the original gun and that alone does not really make any sense, and the fact that the chaingun has been replaced by some wana be like "ripple" makes this weapon lame. Original painkiller is replaced with a cube that floats in the air and does the same stuff just with less fashion.. The stakegun is replaced with a pathetic excuse for a weapon - crossbow, that fires 3 arrows, those really have neither power or style. Obviously gone are the grenades and the ability to stake-nade... Electroshaft is replaced with a head that fires lasers from it’ eyes and screams damaging voice - all this being said it is clear that the developers not only decreased the quality of the weapons, but also made them look more silly. The new weapons included in the game are not worth mentioning. The same can be said about the monsters - AI was never a strong part of such games, but this time clearly the developers have made mistakes in the behavior of some of the monsters by making them really either irritating or overpowered. That being said the monsters did not become somehow stronger, but simply their gameplay execution is bad - talk about the likes of plants, fire ghosts or radioactive workers..

Level design: you know that level design in the original Painkiller was exceptional - all levels were made with such a detail, representing real world installations or simply copying them and the architecture was outstanding. In Painkiller Overdose the levels feel more cartoony, certainly have less detail and architecture and more invisible walls as well as buggy places.. However few levels look really nice and have a good gameplay value - particularly Ragnarok and Ghost Valley. Some other levels might look good, but then again, the linearity or the bad gameplay execution in them does not make them good looking overall..

Soundtrack: it is a custom thing really, this time the developers have chosen a more pop-industro like battle music over the more heavy metal riffs of the original game. However the ambient music does not have that amount of greatness and style like the original game had with the exception of the few levels where music is really nice.

Sound: it’s ok if we talk about the in-game sounds, but the most irritating thing is obviously Belial’s trash talk voice overs. Sam "Serious" Stone at least did not repeat his trash talks every 30 seconds...

Graphics: well what can i say? I mean they look the same as in the Battle Out Of Hell expansion that was released 3 years ago. Certainly this is not good considering that PK Overdose lags alot more than PK Battle Out Of Hell, but at least the graphics are not as bad as in PK Resurrection, where everything is just abysmal...

Competitiveness: the single player offers the same challenges as seen before: the 5 stars challenge, tarot card collection, speedrun, boss time attacks, soul collecting and gold gibing challenges. But it certainly won’t feel the same good as in the original.. Speaking of multi player - it is made just for fun. It certainly does not bring the level of skill and competitiveness needed for pro gaming with these new stupid weapons and bad multi player map design.

Customization: it certainly is not a good thing, that game saves as well as cfg files are stored now in hidden Application Data folders instead of game folders. There is also a big problem - in the menu you can not switch the weapons primary/alternative or numerical positions like you want. This is certainly a decrease.

Final words: well, for those like me, who appreciated Painkiller for what it was, this new expansion PK Overdose certainly feels disappointing. It might deliver the same amount of fun just like the original game, but overall PK Overdose became more stupid, less fashionable and appealing, less competitive, more buggy, with a decreased gameplay execution and too late in the gaming market - in the end of 2007.. The best i can say about this game is that it is - still a playable and fun game, certainly not a rip-off and most important - alot better than Painkiller Resurrection..

Review of Painkiller Resurrection

This game is the example of the ultimate failure of the development. It’s a disaster to the PK franchise...

Plain and simple: after 5 years they release a game that has a smell of decay...

Story and presentation: there is no point in telling the story, since this is a "gun and run" shooter.. Who cares anyway.. The presentation is weak with cartoony cheap intro pics, no animation here. The character looks like a drunk Max Payne just got beat up.. The title after the loading looks extremely cheap, like it might have been drawn by a 7 year old kid. You now get the feeling that Painkiller Resurrection will be one of the philosophically cheapest games you ever have faced.

Visuals: the game looks even worse than Painkiller Battle Out Of Hell, which by it’s 2004 standards had the best graphics, perhaps second only to Half-Life 2. So after all these years they release a game that looks worse than original, but lags like Crysis..

Soundtrack: it’s a custom thing, however is not appealing that much anymore and at points does not really fit the game. All i can say it is not even close to the original Painkiller’s soundtrack and all that awesome background and fighting music. Some soundtrack parts in PK Resurrection are repetitive from older Painkiller games.

Sound: quality is mediocre at best. One would expect that after all these long years they would improve the in-game sounds. Worst off all they added the voice overs - irritating chants, those nobody wants to hear..

Customization: thought the options menu and HUD remain almost the same from the original, there is no cfg file in the Bin directory. The cfg is located in Data/Lscripts/Main/Cfg.lua - this is an incredibly bad turn from original Painkiller, where the cfg was easy to edit in the Bin folder..

Models: level design is far less attractive that that of Painkiller Overdose, not even comparing to original Painkiller.. Levels are made without fashion, chaotically dispersed with no logics to their constructive look. In contrast all of the original Painkiller’s levels were designed from real world places or at least were made to represent the most familiar installations build in earth. However Painkiller Resurrection levels are a joke. There is one level in the game, that does not even have textures - can you believe that? Monster design does not exist at all - the are the same 5 year old monsters from original games and a new one - that looks like a rotten potato with a face, like it has been crushed by an 18wheeler. This new monster has the MOST horrible design i have ever seen in any game...

The final bosses in the game are just re-textured monsters from original Painkiller - a re-textured black demon and a re-textured Alastor..

Gameplay: dramatically changed - no longer you need to clear the area from monsters in order to progress to the next chamber, in most cases you can go free where you want - it looks like an improvement, but in fact this is the worst change in the game - because with this gameplay change the game is automatically stripped from any challenge values the original Painkiller had. It strips the game from the challenge and fun of speedruning and finding shortcuts - key success elements to original game and my favorite part about it. This new gameplay also makes alot of errors and confusion. It makes the player wonder where to go, monsters sometimes bump right before your face, often you go the wrong way and so do not trigger many events those suppose to happen - and that causes game errors also. In general the gameplay somehow feels incredibly boring when compared to the previous games; it is hard to explain why, but that is just the way it is - once you start macing up evil monks in the Cathedral, you feel like you have seen and done all this before, and just don’t feel the motivation to play.

Challenge value:

1) 5 stars run is not possible due to the many physical 3D holes and glitches in the maps and due to the object displacement miscalculations as well as due to the changed gameplay, that makes no sense in collecting items like in original Painkiller.

2) Speedrun will not be competitive, because of the changed gameplay.The speedrun formula worked perfectly in the original Painkiller, where every level was divided into subsections - that made you learn and remember the pattern of how to skillfully and effectively clear the areas one by one as fast as you can. For a speedrun video observer this was an entertaining video to watch, because it showed the skill needed to perform the runs and delivered competition between the players. This type of gameplay also forced you to search for shortcuts, those were not originally intended; that overall made the speedrun very attractive and competitive. Now here, in PK Resurrection, this speedrun formula does not work in some levels - there is simply no entertainment and competition value left when monsters spawn randomly, sections can be skipped without any fights not even using shortcuts and skipping those sections can result in either un-triggered events or errors, especially in levels like Gloomy Mountains, Haunted City.

3) Black tarot cards - you don’t feel the motivation to collect the black tarot cards, because the cards are the same from the original games, and the requirements to get the tarot cards are either dull, boring, repetitive or impossible due errors.

Artificial intelligence: downgraded from original PK. What the monsters in Serious Sam and Painkiller lacked in AI, compensated in numbers.

Here, however, the AI is the worst i have ever seen. It’s hard to imagine how can this degradation occur after 5 years...

Cooperative: does not exist, although was promised..

Multiplayer: should not even be included.. We have PK++.

Game technical design: the game core materials like models, scripts, hud and events are located in lua files, those can be opened like text files with a program like Dragon Unpacker. However even original Painkiller was weak on this trade, since this is a unfavorable scripting language that causes many errors, and many scripts are written in polish.. This also was one of the very few reasons that original PK had serious flaws. Map files are located in pkm standard and can be extracted in the game editor to modify. But there is not much left to edit, because you can not change the 3D models, so no matter how you try, the game is an epic fail from the start.

Errors: i don’t usually separate this, but in this case i have to. I have never seen so many bugs and errors in any game ever.. One after another - lua script errors, windows errors, dll errors, freeze-ups and hangs..

Support: almost does not exist, the game was developed by "fans", not developers, and the idiot publisher just wanted more cash. Epic fail. There was a patch released that did nothing major to improve the situation.

The final huge mistake was that the game was only released on steam - this is just horrible, no need to explain why..

Final words: It is amazing to see how once released, original Painkiller was an epic game, that revolutionized the fast paced FPS genre and set a benchmark for future games, but and from then it only went down hill to it’s most miserable part - Painkiller Resurrection...

I really can not find anything special or positive to say about this game. I give some credit, because somehow the patching does work and you can actually finish the game even after many attempts and reloads from many errors. Only some minor situations and some minor level elements were nice in this game at times, those reminded what PK is all about.. I mean, if at least the game had been error-free and finished, without the many 3D holes and glitches, it might deserve a better rating - and that would be still bad, but now it is simply impossible. Gamespot’s 3,5 is too good for this crap.

Overall what a horrible release - not much of entertaining, not competitive, dull, repetitive, lagging like hell, 5 years late, without promised features, irritating elements, decreased level design, decreased gamepaly, decreased sound, deceased graphics, full of bugs and errors, uncompleted in general with the 3D design, and only available on steam. So in general - nonsense..

Review of Painkiller Battle out of Hell

This game has both improvements and shortcomings. Overall a definitive must for hard-core PK fans like me...

If every level in Battle Out Of Hell had been as great in every aspect as any of the original Painkiller levels, this game would definitely surpass original Painkiller.

The problem is, that from it’s 10 offered levels, only half bring the outstanding quality like the original game did, and having that in mind there are only 10 levels total, what makes this game a little rip-off.. Despite these negative factors the game brings enough to be a worthy true successor to the original.

Story and presentation: i am not going to spoil anything here, the important thing is that the story of the original game continues here as you play the same character Daniel Garner. However disappointing is the presentation: suddenly Daniel Garner looks somehow terrible compared to what we saw in the original, the movies do not look that nice, and you just have basically the intro movie and the ending one. But that does not really matter right? We are here for the gamplay and challenges..

Gameplay: this time the developers really strove hard and delivered a much more complex and challenging gameplay. The principles of gameplay did not change from original Painkiller, but certainly increased are the difficulty and complexity of the game. In original Painkiller you played every level more or less the same way, with slight exceptions. In Battle Out Hell, however, these exceptions are huge.. In some levels, like Stone Pit, the gameplay is all about searching, exploring and climbing mountains, leaving fightings as secondary thing. In levels like Stalingrad, no longer works the formula "run and gun, kill everything that moves" - here you clearly have to use alot of camping and strategy, basically attack from hidden positions. In some levels, the opposite way, you are locked either in a roller coaster or in a van and can not move, totally exposed, but just aim your weapons as fast as possible in every direction and try to kill as many as you can or simply try not kill anyone at all - both work and deliver a versatile gameplay. 2 new weapons are included, those make a nice addition and fit very well. New tarot cards are available to unlock also.

Level design: this is where i have mixed reactions. The bigest problem for this expansion pack not to score higher than the original is that half of the game levels deliver some mediocre gameplay and their level design is poor. For example Laboratory, Pentagon and Dead City have both of these attributes. Coliseum has a nice design, but the gameplay feels totally linear and too much prolonged. I was actaully bored the very first time i played it. Underworld rail-van sequence works only if you want to make yourself a challenge and kill all the monsters while in the vehicle, otherwise - it is an example of bad gameplay. Then again the surroundings of the Stalingrad level feel so uncompleted, but somehow manage to deliver a challenging gameplay by making it the hardest level in the game. But of course there are levels that definitely beat even the designs of the original Painkiller - Loony Park is definitely the most memorable level of this expansion pack and adds a great deal of challenge and unintended exploration value. Stone Pit is perhaps the most not linear level in the whole franchise - from all of the levels in every Painkiller game, this is the only level, where you can skip the linear gameplay and if you have skill in wallclimbing - you can just go where you want. At last Shadowland is definitely the pearl and the crown jewel of the game. One the most visually stunning and entertaining final boss battles you can find in any FPS game ever released is exactly here - in Shadowland, where you face off against a HUGE King Alastor in a huge "free to to go where you want" apocalyptic map, rendered in stunning detail and offering you a great time attack challenge. The fight itself is alone entertaining and the detail level in King Alasotor is something i have never seen before in any game, not even Crysis. This single entity has been really crafted better than the other game elements. That being said we move on the graphcis...

Graphics: what can i say more than supreme? When original Painkiller arrived in DirectX 8.1, it had the best visuals at that time, until the release of DirectX 9 games like Far Cry and Half-Life 2. Now Painkiller expansion is upgraded to Half-Life 2 standarts with DirectX 9.C, and new features are present like bloom, warp, coronas and ultra dynamic lightning as well as improved AF. It looks amazing, and although it might lack the shadow detail that Doom 3 presents or lack the facial realism that Half-Life 2 has, it certainly surpasses Doom 3 in the visuals of the level design, since all Doom 3 has are his dark schity places, those are made of the same metal pieces, those are repeated again and again and again all over the maps... Since Painkiller Battle Out Of Hell is installed on original Painkiller, it happens so that the original game is also upgraded with the new graphical attributes of the expansion and therefore levels like Atrium or Cathedral, where the architecture and visuals were already looking good, now look brilliant. What does Doom 3 have to offer like this? Nothing.

Soundtrack: just as in the original game, you will be delighted by the well fitted instrumental background music as well as by the battle music. Battle music is custom taste - this time there are less metal riffs, and more industrial pop - i can not really comment on that. You can turn the music off.

Sound: the in-game sounds are very well delivered. Wherever you go, just like in the original game, you hear all sorts of well fitted sounds those set the perfect atmosphere and mood in those particular levels. Clearly without these in-game sounds the quality of gameplay would worsen.

Customization and menu: very customizable menu and hud - just like in the original game. Nothing lost.

Challenge value: almost as great as in the original game. 5 stars, soul collecting, speedruns, black tarot cards and so on... I have to say that this expansion is alot more challenging and harder than original - it is alot harder to collect the tarot cards or to get the 5 starts score in the end of the game..

Minor challenges are aslo harder. The only disappointing thing is that there are only 10 levels, and only 2 are boss levels, from which only one is a good and challenging level. The Pentagon boss is actually not a boss but an oversized monster with increased stats, one of the stronger of course..

Mutliplayer: see original game review. What is important to mention that there are 3 important patches after the installation of this expansion - 1.61, 1.62 and 1.64. These patches mostly address and improve multi player related things, add new maps and make Painkiller ready for the installation of the official PK++ mod, which, when installed, enables competitive multi player gameplay, benchmarked by the professional gamers and CPL.

Final words: for any Painkiller fan this is a must play game (not like Painkiller Overdose). This expansion - Battle Out Of Hell lacks some great level design, seen in the original game, and therefore, with only 10 levels in general feels like a little rip-off, but overall the new features like improved graphics, new tarot cards, new weapons and an increased challenge value together with some of the best packed levels make this game worth the time.

PS: I have finished this game on nightmare/trauma with 5 starts challenge accomplished and black tarot cards collected. Any questions asked - i will answer. I know the game very well.

Review of Painkiller

This game is the benchmark and example of what a fast paced shooter game should be like.

QUESTION: What is the definition of a truly great fast paced first person shooter?

ANSWER: a truly great fast paced first person shooter is the kind of game, that delivers an extremely well paced and balanced gameplay, is fast, has advanced movement techniques those require great skill, is challenging, is not aging, has great replay-ability, is technically sound, and most important - is professionally competitive in the arts of professional gaming.

That being said - Painkiller delivers all that with such a mighty blow, that there has not been released a more sound fast paced shooter yet!

Of course, Painkiller is not the first game to climb into that elite category.

It all started with the original Quake - the first game ever, that delivered all the requirements for a truly great fast paced shooter. And many more games of that category have been released since 1996 till 2004. The truly last great game of this type was Serious Sam, with the exception that it was not professionally competitive. As of now, many games tried to best Painkiller - and in some aspects they did, but non of them truly bested Painkiller at it’s heart and took the crown from him as the next big thing.

Painkiller does not bring a story worth mentioning, the game is not about that, but the presentation is very nice. There are lots of movies between the chapters, as well as a nice intro and outro. Suffice to say, that later Painkiller games were never that good at initial presentation.

The game has 4 difficulty settings - daydream, insomnia, nightmare, trauma.

The standard setting is nightmare - is it described as a normal difficulty mode, therefore should be recommended for any player, who is experienced in these types of games. Players without experience should start on insomnia.. I have to say that daydream level is ridiculously easy and shameful - i would not recommend it even for the biggest n00b around.

Trauma difficulty is different in the sense that it actually has a different ending, opposed to the normal version. Some of the levels in the game can not be opened on certain difficulty settings, so one thing for sure - you will have to play Painkiller on every difficulty for full experience...

Painkiller has got one of the most exciting single player gameplay experiences when it comes to pure adrenaline rushed fast and challenging brainless shooting action without the need of the story. I will be immediately comparing him to some other known games..

The first thing you will notice once you will start Painkiller and crank it up to the max, is that it is easy on requirements and looks very good, having in mind, it is a DirectX 8.1 game. The game runs very smooth in both - FPS rate and movement physics. It runs perfect on max settings on video cards like GeForce 6600GT or Radeon X800, but no less! Differenty from other games, where more than 30 FPS is considered enough, the minimum for Painkiller is actually 60 FPS. 120 FPS should be the standart setting to experience the max out of gameplay. A single core, highly clocked CPU is all it needs to deliver those smooth frames.

You will notice that Painkiller is very fast - something that was missed in many single player games since the release of Return To Castle Wolfenstein.

It’s single player speed certainly is not as fast as in original Quake, but is still faster than in most games. The hidden speed is in Painkiller’s mutliplayer... Singleplayer allows you to gain max speed to the value of "15" - and you will feel bunny-hoping like a madman, fairly faster than Doom 3 or Serious Sam can deliver, but still slower than Quake.. However the speed in Painkiller mutliplayer is extended to value "28" and if you though that it was fast with 15, think again! Now it becomes a truly a worthy successor to Quake. We will talk about multilayer later...

Since Painkiller is a fast game, you can execute all sorts of difficult movement techniques. Once you will gain the momentum of speed, just like in Quake, you fill find yourself performing crazy jumps on various obstacles, between the elevated objects, or circling around corners.

Indeed Painkiller brings some revolutionary movement techniques. Some of them are worth explaining. The most important and quite most easy is bunnyhoping - it’s not the same as strafing however.. While you keep jumping FW, you gain speed and momentum. Once you reach the max speed, you will have the momentum to over-jump difficult obstacles, what look like impossible from the first glance. Second important technique is air control - once you have the max momentum, you can perform a jump around the corner in a hyperbola like pattern. Or you can use air control to land from high altitude down with amazing precision.. The third crucial technique is wall climbing - you can climb the walls in this game, which would be impossible to access in any other game. This technique depends on several factors - most important is the 3D collision detection between you and the platform. As you know, when a map is being created in a 3D program like Maya or Max, any platform is rendered in polygons before it is textured. Polygons are like square pixels, which determine the density of collision detection between the subject and the platform. The more polygons are rendered on a platform, the greater collision detection.. Lets say the platform is 100 cm in X and Y lengths - 10000 square cm in size, and you had 10000 polygons rendered on it - it would mean the the object moving through the platform in one axis had to move over 100 polygons per X amount of time, where a single polygon had been 1X1 cm square. Now imagine that the polygon count had been just 2500 on the same platform... In other words 50 polygons in one axis and one polygon is now 2X2 cm square. This would mean that per same amout of X time the object could move over more polygons. In other words the object could have a longer "gait". So in Painkiller, where the polygon count is quite low on the walls, you move on the walls more easy than in other games due to the increased gait per same amount of time. Another factor is frames per second to move. So if you had 120 FPS rate to climb a wall, you could perform more operations on that wall per same amount of time than you could perform having just 60 FPS rate. So with the increased "operations" rate per same amount of time, you could overcome more polygons. However Painkiller has some places where the polygon count is very low, and if you have a very high frame rate there, you might fall through the 3D map into abyss...

So graphics are very well done - the creatures and shadow details might not look as realistic as those in Doom 3, but Painkiller’s lightning effects and the realism details of it’s architecture send Doom 3 to eat up chunks of trash when compared..

You will start killing monsters in various ways and will be delighted by the level of gore and destruction Painkiller brings. Havok physics code allows for some great eye candy when tossing up with monster bodies and objects. Between objects and monsters, the detail in monster animation and movement is certainly most appreciated and visually stunning. In fact, Painkiller does not have enough destroyable objects to really enjoy the destruction of environments like in Crysis of Battlefield Bad Company, however it certainly has enough of that in it’s monsters, who are incorporated in ragdoll physics and arguably die in the most realistic way any game FPS has produced until 2004. After death they leave their spirits those you can consume as a health replenisher. Once you consume 66 of these spirits, you will transform into an invulnerable demon, that can destroy any monster with a single shot. Indeed as a transformed demon you see everything in dark/white colors and only the creatures those posses spirits glow in red haze - quite amazing.. No weapons needed - you just blast a wave of energy and your screen shivers from it. You return to normal person after some time. That being said we move to the weapons.

The weapons are a the key factor to game’s success as a competitive performer as well as to it’s challenge level and realism criteria. The weapons are what makes havok physics simply shine here. Every weapon has a primary attack and an alternative attack, and some have combos. You get 5 weapons, from which 2 are very common - the shotgun that also freezes monsters and a rocket launcher that also has an alternative chaingun option. However 3 other weapons are very unique. The main weapon - painkiller-gun, apart from shredding bodies to bloody pieces and retracting them with a beam (the same thing Scorpion does in Mortal Kombat) has a unique feature to do a painkiller-jump. This is a technique when using an object or a body you perform a jump against the gravity in the vertical direction. By using this technique you can execute shortcuts or find secret places. It is hard and requires great skill. Non of the games comes close with this feature. Quake 2 and Heretic 2 had a similar grappling hook, but it was used for retracting your body against the object, not but jumping with it vertically or using it as a weapon. Then Painkiller has a gun called the stakegun, which launches wooden stakes at a great distance and can either gib the monsters, if fired with great velocity, or pin them to the objects, if fired up close. This pinning to the walls alone is enough to install Painkiller as soon as possible. The stakegun is a sniper weapon, but differently from the famous railgun, fires it’s stakes in a non-flat, parabola-like trajectory.. It requires a certain skill to use it.. Harder than a railgun for sure. Stakegun has grenades as an alternative option and has the best combo in the game - while you launch a grenade in the air, while it lands, you must pin the grenade with your stakegun in the air and then such stake will fly having an explosive warhead.. The damage done when hit with this combo is enormous. Last, but not least is the gun that fires shurikens and lighting... Need i say more? Yes - it has a combo - it fires a big fucing shuriken charged with lightning and everyone that comes near that big fucing shurinken is electrocuted. Somehow Yahtzee did not mention that.. All of the weapons look awesome and realistic..

Once you start a level you can see an empty statistics deck that needs to be filled while you progress; once you will finish the first level - a display of level statistics will appear on the screen. Again, great competitive games like Quake and Serious Sam offer these statistics and the end of the levels. You will notice how much challenge does Painkiller offer to you - first you can finish each level with the 5 stars rating - meaning you have to make something known as a perfect score, known in Quake games. Since every slain monster drops a spirit, you can make a spirit run, or you can make a gold-rush run, and try to acquire as much gold as possible. Gold is needed to buy tarot cards.. Of course an ordinary level speedrun or boss level time attack is the most logic challenge. You can make a tarot card unlocking challenge - one of the most obvious and popular challenges - just do what is told at the beginning of the level statistics and have that done in the end of the game. For example finish one level using a stakegun only or finish another level without grabbing an armor..

Although the game is linear in it’s concept, it is never boring if you understand for what it is made. It will be boring if you are looking just to finish the game, especially if you will try to search for any sense in the story telling - than you better not touch the game at all and go play Half-Life 2 instead. But if you truly appreciate the various challenges, and the immersive, gore filled gameplay delivered by Painkiller, than you will understand that Painkiller’s linear gameplay is the only logic way to ensure that there will be any competition between the players who will try to best the scores of the statistic tables. That being said, for example, - kill the monsters as fast as possible and show the maximum skill by doing so. The game has got tons of unintended shortcuts - almost in every level there are few of them, so the speedrun can never be linear here. Just as in the good old Quake..

So once you will see Painkiller’s visuals, performance, weapons, challenge statistics, realistic physics and how fast it is, the next thing you will notice while exploring the game in the next rooms is the detail and accuracy in the level geometry and 3D design - especially gorgeous looking levels are the Cathedral, Atrium Complex, Opera House, Babel, Castle, Palace, Train Station, City On Water, Old Monastery and Hell; it is something that other FPS games released before 2004 can be only jealous of, perhaps with the exception of Serious Sam, where some of it’s levels, like Babylon, were truly spectacularly made. Having that compared, not all of the Painkiller’s levels look so amazing, some of them have a very linear and less attractive design - like the Military Base, Abandoned Factory or Docks - but on the other hand these less stylish levels offer greater gameplay value for the decreased looks (fightings in these levels are on a bigger scale and harder when compared to the beautiful levels). So Painkiller levels are very well balanced between each other, and there is not a case where a level is "out of the picture". The most amazing thing about the levels, which most of you don’t even realize is that many of the them represent real world entities! There is an actual same looking Asylum somewhere in the US, same style Cemetery also in the US, same looking Train Station located in Austria, same looking Opera House somewhere in Spain - it can go on and on... Anyone who says that Painkiller has a bad level design is basically an idiot who does not have a clue of what he is talking... Not all of the levels are real copies of the known places in the world, but all of the Painkiller levels, except Hell have their counterparts, similar locations and installations in our earth, what can not be said about other fantasy FPS games, although games like Hexen 2 or Serious Sam did a great effort trying to realistically represent known historical designs and captured the beauty of excellent 3D geometry too.

The greatness of the levels does not just end with their geometry stuff. All the levels are filled with monsters, and each level has it’s unique distinctive monster list. For example you will only find Lepper Monks and Walking Undead in levels like Town and Castle. So there is a certain sense of style that each level must have it’s own kind of monsters.. And speaking of monster i can not forget to mention the bosses of this game. Without a shadow of a doubt - Painkiller has got the biggest bosses seen in any game. Other games have similar size bosses, but not 6 of them in the single game.. You first get the taste of what bosses are about in the level Cathedral where you face off against a giant vampire that is some 15 meters high. But he is nothing compared to Necrogiant, which is hands down, the largest ever boss in any game. You have to see to believe it. The bosses of course do not come cheap - they are extremely well textured and have some of the greatest animation seen in games. Your jaw truly drops on the floor..

It is easy to edit Painkiller settings - there is a cfg file located in the Painkiller/Bin directory, and even if you screw it up, you can delete it and it will be replaced by the default cfg. The game interface and HUD look awesome, many options to choose from, and you will never get lost in the game due to the fact, that the HUD has an enhanced arrow that leads you where to go..

Though you have many option in the menu, you have lots of more in the cfg.

Also there are lots of commands to be written in the console - i suggest increasing the FOV from it’s default ugly 90 to something higher, and enabling the speedmeter, so that newcomers might learn about the speed of the game.

And of course there is the famous powermad utility, full it’s powerfull tools, but most importantly - useful for fixing the game bugs and enabling some useful commands those are not present by default. Powermad is not just some mod to a game - it is a widely recognized and needed program that works like a patch. Without it Painkiller would be less attractive. Speaking of that, let’s move on to the bugs...

Another important aspect of the game is it’s multiplayer: it might be weak on the net, because of it’s bad netcode, but it sure feels good on LAN and it’s level of skill needed for professional 1 VS 1 gaming is at the very top, togehter with the elite games like Quakeworld, Quake 2, Quake 3 Arena and Warsaw. No other games come close bringing the levels of speed, skill and competitiveness required for pro gaming.

Instead of being a jack-ass, i will simply quote some of the lines, the professional gamers had to say about PK:

Johnathan "fatal1ty" Wendel: - "for me Painkiller is the second greatest 1 VS 1 game after Quake 3 Arena"

Sander "Vo0" Kaasjager: -"my personal favorite choise, the fastest game that i have played"

Nomater how much i like the game, it is not perfect. Actually Painkiller is one of the more error-full games, and that just speaks about the fact that is has not been developed with first class materials. Bugs and crashes occur more often than wanted. Alone the lua application programing language is very irritating if you want to change some game scripts, there is quite a mess. Worst of all is that random lua based script errors occur just like that, without any explanation.. Adding to the bad development is the fact that lots of stuff is written in polish language.. Especially in the Pain Editor, which is used as a tool to modify maps. It only comes with a patch, however...

Another fault is that Painkiller does not have a cooperative, and although one can not blame the developers for that, the fact that almost every Raven Software game had it, as well as Serious Sam had, makes me cry.

Finally Painkiller might feel repetitive or boring for those, who do not appreciate these types of games - and there are many of such people, i know, even among the reviewers.. But this certainly is not a criteria in my case, so it won’t affect the score.

Painkiller still has too much good in it to be anyhow affected by it’s faults..

Final words: this game is a masterpiece, quite under-rated and somehow felt less popular than Doom 3 and Half-Life 2 by the time of it’s release year. But certainly i prefer quality over quantity, and do not care for a incompetent opinions. Not everyone will appreciate Painkiller, but those who do, know why...

About this site

Painkiller is a first-person shooter video game released on April 12, 2004. It was developed by Polish game studio People Can Fly and published by DreamCatcher Interactive.

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Valid CSS!