Reviewed by Jimmy - 08.07.06
Introduction:Dreamcatchers successful PC shooter Painkiller has arrived for to console market. Although Painkiller didn't make the jump into the next generation development, Painkiller skill packs a punch. As Wesley Willis would say "Get Ready for a Demon Hell-Ride!" in Painkiller: Hell Wars.
The Game:Painkiller: Hell Wars puts the gamer in the middle of battle between Heaven and Hell. The action is fast and furious which never lets up for more then a few seconds. If I had to name another game that can keep up with Painkillers pace it would be the Serious Sam series. Painkiller obviously more serious then Sam and has a gothic inspired twist full of demon lore, deadly weapons, and relentless fighting. Painkiller: Hell isn't going to be remembered for its groundbreaking plot, or revolutionary gameplay, what it will be remembered for is a fast paced, dark and violent demon slaying slaughter fest
Who needs a stinking Plot?!
Your character in Painkiller is really not worth the trouble of detailing and either is the plot. Not that it's bad, it's about average for this type of shooter. The main facts you should know is that you're the only one who can get this job done, and the mission is kill four of Hells Generals to stop Lucifer attempt to attack Heavens glorious gates. Who you are and why you have to fight this battle is just filler, which is fine. Truthfully all we want to do is shoot things and make sure that nothing moving when the smoke clears, it's a first person shooter after all.
The Weapons, The Doom!
Painkiller is your basic affair when controlling. If you have played a shooter in the past then this will be familiar. It's really barebones without a lot of special features, like powers, or gimmick levels. Like the Dooms and Quakes you pretty much just run and gun. If you need a specialty of Painkiller it would be the weapons, and the enemies. Overall it's just the same game that you've played before with a new filling.
For the firepower in Painkiller: Hell Wars you get to play with six different flavors of destruction. All the weapons are from the normal game and one from the PC expansion pack that was released, that one is the SMG/Flamethrower. Your default weapon of choice is the Painkiller. This weapon doesn't require ammunition which is perfect for those times when you're running low of bullets. The Painkiller is pretty effect as a default weapon and can be used for close range combat with its spinning blades, or a long range option which launches a grappling hook of sorts that can impale enemies and drag them back to you. I really had a sweet spot for the Painkiller throughout the game, even though I had better weapons to dispose of my enemies, I found myself going back to the spinning blades just for fun. Great weapon which deserves the name it has.
The other weapons in the game is the Shotgun/Freezer which can be used as a deadly double barrel shotgun or a freeze gun that fires liquid nitrogen that temporarily freezes enemies. Best use of this one is to freeze then fire away with the shotgun, not many get up from that combo. Another cool weapon is the Electrodriver which fires ultra fast shurikens, or lightning blast at your foes. Of course they included a rocket launcher and the obligatory chain gun, the only thing is in Painkiller they are connected. It's powerful and one of the best weapons to use in the game. The SMG/Flamethrower is another double equipped weapon. One half sub-machine guns and the other flamethrower, everyone loves flamethrowers. For the last weapon in the game is the original Stakegun/Grenade Launcher. Like its title it fires wooden stakes that can pin enemies against walls, or even to other creatures. Like all the weapons in Painkiller the dual use is deadly, pin them then grenade them, ouch!
Painkiller does a great job with these weapons and combines the purpose instead of having twelve different weapons. The design is well though out, but there is a slight difficulty problem in the way they set up your weapon toggle. For some reason they only have the D-Pad selectable which cause for a slight delay when you're switching. This wouldn't be so bad if the game was so relentless. It's a minor complaint, but something you will notice. Other then that the weapons are excellent and a definite plus to the game.
Game of Cards
A unique feature to Painkiller is the use of Tarot cards and gold coins. Hidden on each level are one or more Black Tarot Cards. These cards are either Silver or Gold. The cards give the player special powers and abilities, the difference with the colours is, Gold only can be used one a level, and Silver have a continuous effect. The cards are pretty hard to obtain and are usually unlocked by acting on a special condition on each level. For example using a certain weapon during a level, or only using a certain weapon to finish a level. The scoreboard will let you know on these conditions so you are not in the dark. The Tarot Card feature is a good idea and adds some replay value to Painkiller.
For the enemies in Painkiller, the evil creatures that lurk in Hell you will come across a wide range of creepers. From Monks, Commandos, and Bikers to Banshee's, Hell Angel and Templar Knights they all are focused on killing you. Most enemies besides the bosses can be easily out witted, the AI is pretty basic in Painkiller. Everyone is gasses up on nitro and come for you at full speed. Run and gun is the way to fight this war, and if you stick to that strategy you will be fine.
Multiplayer is also a popular component to Painkiller with the typical assortment of matches from classic deathmatches to capture the flag. If you find some friends only the game can be extremely fun, although try to pull them away from Halo 2 or Call of Duty might be a bigger challenge.
Painkiller does have a few issues; although the game is pretty solid they really skimped out on the levels. Providing four less levels then the original game, or fourteen if you tally up the expansion pack is not good. Anyone who already has enjoyed Painkiller on the PC will have no reason to buy the console version. It's probably a case of development time, but less of anything is never a good idea.
Graphics & Sound: For the graphics Painkiller doesn't disappoint and keeps the game running at a steady framerate which is important. The overall graphics quality in the animation, modeling a d textures isn't best, but I'd mark it down as being adequate. Definitely the PC version from 2004 looks better which is understandable, plus it never helps when you go back to the Xbox after the release of the 360.
Speaking of the Xbox 360, I could see Painkiller successfully going over on the 360 market and they could fix a lot of graphical problems that hinder the flow of the gameplay on the Xbox. For example each part of the map loads through warp tubes, they load quickly, but on a system like the 360 you wouldn't need to break up the levels in so many sections with loading sequences. It would feel more natural and not break the flow of the game. Overall with the Xbox the game is up to par, although it doesn't stand like some other games for the system. Not bad, could have been better.
Lowdown: If you still haven't jumped into the next generation of gaming or finished the PC version of Painkiller, then Hell Wars is worth a look. Painkiller: Hell Wars is a great stress reliever that has a strong pace never lets up. If slaughtering demons with a host of deadly weapons set on full throttle sounds like fun, then you will have a great time with Painkiller: Hell Wars.
Game: 7.5, Graphics/Sound: 7, Innovation: 6, Mojo: 7 Final: 7 / 10