GAME NAME: Painkiller: Hell and Damnation Uncut
DEVELOPER(S): The Farm 51
PUBLISHER(S): Nordic Games GmbH
PLATFORM(S): PlayStation 3, Xbox 360
GENRE(S): First Person Shooter
RELEASE DATE(S): 28 June 2013
Like plastic surgery, remakes are all the rage at the moment, so it’s no surprise you’ll eventually see a remake of a game you played years ago. Painkiller: Hell and Damnation Uncut is a not just a regular remake to the widely popular Painkiller, but it’s also the sequel. It sounds completely mad to have a game be both a sequel and a remake, but here’s the catch, it’s not really a remake. How is this possible? Well… after the events of the first game, Daniel Garner (the protagonist) lands back in the cemetery where the first game began and basically goes through every level he’d already gone through, killing hordes of demons and evil beings, including the bosses, only with a “new story” – that’s how. Unfortunately, the game is more paracetamol than it is general anaesthesia, but let me not get ahead of myself.
Starting in heaven, the best of the best this game has to offer is its visuals. The set pieces and levels are beautiful to behold. People who have played the original will be surprised at how identical the levels are. Having already played the first game, I was amazed to see each of the levels with updated graphics. Everything regarding the look of the levels was polished and detailed. The enemies themselves have also been given a facelift, but still contain that original feel of the first game. The game’s bosses are also well designed and look a lot more threatening this time – which is good for a game based around fighting demonic entities.
Like falling from grace and going no further than the lands of man, in terms of gameplay and design, the game is about halfway: average. One aspect of the game many people rave about is the weapons. The weapons are cool, well designed and are mostly effective, but two hours into the game and the action becomes very repetitive. Each gun has its own alternate fire, which can be used in combination with the primary fire, e.g. the shotgun’s alt-fire is a freeze gun of sorts. Freeze the enemy and you can kill it in one shot of the shot gun, maybe two if you miss. However, as fun as the guns are, and thanks to how easy the game is, it quickly stops being fun and becomes tedious. The difficulty level on normal is far too easy and makes the game a little too mediocre. Playing it on a tougher setting is recommended, but normal should never feel like very easy. The levels are simple enough to navigate, but there’s no real challenge in them, with the basic recipe for each of the level being: start level; kill everything; reach next check point; rinse and repeat until you reach the final checkpoint/portal.
Each level has its own secrets and hidden rooms that contain ammo, armor and holy relics. These rooms or areas are not easy to find or get to, which is great, but not in a fast paced game that expects you to move from area to area while fending off A LOT of enemies. Aside from the guns, you also have access to tarot cards which act as abilities. There are two types of tarot cards: gold and silver tarot cards. Gold cards can be used once per level and silver are used continuously throughout the level. The tarot cards are great to use, but unless you’re playing on a tougher setting, you won’t really need them. They are also very difficult to obtain. Each level has its own challenges, complete the challenge and you gain its associated card.
The multiplayer maps are pretty cool as they’re just smaller versions of the single player maps. The problem is however, I couldn’t find people to play with. If you do manage to find players, there are a decent number of maps on offer. Beyond maps, the multiplayer consists of capture the flag, deathmatch, team deathmatch and survival mode.
Sadly, not everything about the game is Earthly or Heavenly, but is actually rather frustrating or just plain bad and must have come straight from hell. The first thing is the bizarre AI. It wasn’t a major issue at first, but it really annoys you later in the game when the levels become more expansive. In order to activate the next checkpoint, all enemies must be defeated; unfortunately, some idiotic skeleton gets stuck between a dustbin and a newspaper stand at the start of the check point, making you trek all the way back so that you can kill it and bunny hop back to the checkpoint: bunny hopping saves time. The other AI related issues include enemies that randomly stop during an assault, enemies randomly running away and soul drops that don’t pick up.
The bits in the Devil’s toilet
Journeying further down leads you to the last circle of Hell, the absolute worst part of this game is the horrific story. It was either a) written by someone who doesn’t give a damn; b) written at lunchtime; c) originally brilliant but they lost large sections of it and couldn’t be bothered to rewrite it or d) a combination of the above. The first mistake is the lack of exposition – something that is very important for newcomers to the series; why is any of this even happening? The next mistake is failing to properly introduce characters. Eve, for example, makes a few appearances before Daniel actually says her name. The third mistake is the poor writing and in-cohesive storyline. The final mistake is failure to explain why you’re even in the next area.
There’s more meat on an anorexic skeleton than there is story in this game, which also has some of the worst voice acting this generation of games has ever heard. You move from one location to the next with no sort of direction or introduction to the level, e.g. from an orphanage to a swamp, then to a theme park. This lack of direction makes me wonder if the game was just made to have awesome level layouts and no thought to the story’s progression.
From Heaven to Hell, overall Painkiller: Hell and Damnation Uncut is a very mediocre experience and may only please diehard fans of the series and gamers that gravitate towards this niche genre of games. It’s also a very short-lived experience with a six hour single player campaign and no hope of a replay. Perhaps this game’s saving grace is its multiplayer, a part I wasn’t able to fully explore; it’s sad that.