The computer technological boom in gaming gave use incredibly violent games like Wolfenstein, Quake, and DOOM. They set the standard for violent FPS titles and there have been small snipets of these games through the years. Some time ago, we got Painkiller. A high octane FPS complete with tons of guns and demons to blow up. Years have passed and many Painkiller installments have come and gone. While the Painkiller series was never the best FPS around, it was and still is a cult classic in the genre. Painkiller: Hell and Damnation is a reboot of the franchise featuring our hero of Purgatory Daniel Garner.
After crushing the forces of Hell and Purgatory in the original titles, Daniel Garner was denied seeing his wife, Catherine. Now, with no faith left, he sat in the cemetery, where his quest once began. Suddenly, Death itself appeared, proposing Daniel a new bargain: reunion with his wife in exchange for 7,000 souls. Daniel reluctantly agrees, receiving the Soulcatcher gun. He is sent to familiar places, battling hordes of demon spawn, again defeating the formidable Necrogiant, Alastor, and Swamp Thing. An old ally, Eve, reappears during this quest, warning that Death cannot be trusted, but Daniel didn’t forget her own betrayal at the end of Painkiller: Battle out of Hell. Daniel avoids her as she tries to persuade him that everything is not as it seems, and the only reason he’s so successful at killing demons and not succumbing to their power is that he is not really dead. That is only the first half of the game. Shit gets real and it really throws you for a loop. I won’t spoil everything for you.
The story is surprisingly good for a first person shooter. The storytelling isn’t great but it does get the job done well. The character Daniel Garner is practically an anti-hero. Having a tortured soul and prevented to spend the afterlife with your wife can do that to a man I guess. The story is worth paying attention to.
Now, I have played both versions of this game, PC and Console (PS3). Of course PC FPS titles play way differently than console titles but I had to see why this game was so delayed. The core gameplay is very nostalgic and challenging. You run and shoot everything in your path collecting souls along the way. Every weapon has a primary and secondary fire, secondary ammo being the hardest to come across. Go figure, the Stake Gun has a grenade launcher and in this game, that is the best thing ever. What makes Painkiller challenging are the amount of enemies and the lack of ammo for powerful weapons. However, the ammo availability seems to change from level to level.
Painkiller HD is a throwback to classic FPS titles like DOOM or Shadow Warrior due to the amount of arbitrary secrets in the game. It is both a downside and an upside. The upside is that the game has something to offer. The downside is that they are so random and barely visible you will almost every single one on the first playthrough. It just feels plain ridiculous.
The game feels somewhat sluggish compared to the PC version, which is a major bummer because this is a fast paced game that makes your heart race with all the enemies on screen and bunny hopping to what you think is safety until you start losing health at an alarming rate. The game is still challenging, but it feels so damn slow. This was also a problem with the PC version of this game is the level design. While the art for the levels are great, the layout is disappointing. It is pretty linear and has a “modular’ design with a series of rooms connecting to one another. It is still different than the single hallway design of modern FPS titles. As you destroy objects in the levels and find chests you will collect money that allows you to purchase Tarot Cards that let you alter how you play the game and how the enemies react. However, this system feels unfinished and unneeded.
There are also a variety of multiplayer modes to take part in as well so if you want to break away from the story, that is an option.
I find the PC version of Painkiller to feel a lot better than the console version, but the games are practically identical and if you don’t have a PC that can run Painkiller HD then the console version is totally acceptable. Painkiller: Hell and Damnation has a great art direction and soundtrack as well as a nostalgic feeling to old school first person shooters, but there are little problems with the game that make it somewhat boring. I give Painkiller: Hell and Damnation for the PS3 a 7.5/10.