Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Review #371: Painkiller - Hell & Damnation

 Painkiller, with less levels, less enemies, less framerate and more graphics.
 What was Painkiller? It was a fantastic PC First Person Shooter that harkened back to the era of older FPS game, guns had no ammo clips, circle strafing was the norm and it was all about mowing down hundreds upon hundreds of demons. It was pretty dope, and it's one of my favorite games ever made. Quite a few expansion packs and spin offs would be developed, but they were pretty mediocre or downright bad, probably since, except Battle out of Hell, none of them were developed by the original team. Hell & Damnation doesn't break the trend, it's yet another disappointing attempt at milking everything they can out of the first game.

 While the story picks up after Battle out of Hell ended, the game doesn't contain a single new level, heck, 3 out of the 4 bosses are recycled from the first game. This is never addressed in the game, Daniel simply treads older ground, but doesn't seem to notice. Anyways, Daniel continues to be trapped in limbo, so Death offers him a deal: Gather 7000 souls and have Catherine resurrected. Simple, to the point, it's everything that a game like this needs. That said, I don't remember Daniel being such an immature tryhard prick, he is as unlikable as it gets, not surprisingly being voiced by the guy that voices Duke Nukem.
 First, the good news: This is Painkiller as you know it... more or less. This isn't Half-Life, there're no puzzles to be solved, it's just you, your weapons, and arenas filled to the brim with enemies. There's no regenerating health, but you can find gold souls to restore some health back, or pick up souls from fallen enemies to restore 1 hp a piece. Gathering 66 souls will turn you into an invulnerable demon for a few seconds, allowing you to easily lay waste on your enemies. Fulfilling certain conditions will unlock Tarot Cards, that can be equipped at the cost of some gold coins, found by destroying inanimate objects, that grant you all kinds of extra abilities.

 You are outfitted with only eight weapons, but each has two entirely different functions, so it feels more like eighteen weapons, with a few of them having a third function by pressing both buttons together. Hell and Damnation includes the first game's five weapons, Battle out of Hell's two additional weapons as well as the new Soul Cutter weapon, which is kinda cool... at the cost of the game's Signature weapon: The PainKiller. You seen, using the PainKillers main function, the melee shredder attack, doesn't feel half as satisfying as it once did, back in the original games, you could feel the the crunchy shredding of an enemy's body thanks to the audiovisual feedback, this time around, enemies feel like butter against it, lacking the crunchy sounds or the devastating feedback from before, heck, in order to make the Soul Cutter's main function useful... they had to nerf the PainKillers third attack. Basically, while using the PainKiller used to be fun, now it's disappointing, if I could, I avoided using it, since there was nothing for me in it.
 But let's get into why this fails as a remake: the back of the game's cover boasts that it's a remake of both Painkiller and Battle out of Hell. And it's a shameless lie, Painkiller had about 25 levels, Battle out of Hell added 10 more levels, Hell and Damnation has a paltry 13 levels. THIRTEEN LEVELS out of over 30. Granted, the PS3 version has an additional 14th level, only accessible through Level select. Want to play the missing levels? Gonna have to pony up some extra cash, since they're DLC. Levels have received minor changes, mainly to add the new ammo type for the Soul Cutter, or to accommodate for the new rate at which you acquire the weapons. Also, I'm pretty sure, but can't confirm, some of the enemy types are missing, since I don't remember the original game recycling these many enemy types. Oh, don't worry, you can have more enemy types if you buy the DLC!

 Another way in which this remake takes a hit is in the framerate. Painkiller used to run at a silky 60 fps, but Battle out of Hell runs at 30, with the occasional frame drop when it gets hectic or you use the flamethrower. Lastly, there's a local co-op mode, which makes the framerate suffer even more, as well as online VS modes, if you're into that.
 If you've never played the original Painkiller game, Hell and Damnation may seem like a pretty awesome game. It's a fast-paced, arcadey shooter that favors action over thinking, and emulates older FPS games, before they turned so generic and samey. But, if you have played the original game, then you will know what it's missing. So, it doesn't matter how good the game's foundations are, which are really good, the fact of the matter is that you can get original game at a much cheaper price, and get double the amount of levels. Heck, you can get Painkiller and Battle out of Hell and get everything this game has and more. At a cheaper price. Or you could get Painkiller: Black Edition, which contains everything Painkiller, at a cheaper price. So what if this game has HD graphics, it looks awful for its era and can't even run at a steady framerate. Disappointing.

 If they were gonna go about it this way, a much better idea would've been to make entirely new levels. Don't have the resources, or the will, to translate all the levels from the previous game? Then give us new levels. Sure, they run the risk of falling short of the original, but at least it would've been new content. Why do I want to play this game? I can play the SAME levels, at a faster framerate with the original games. And I get more levels to boot. This is easily the worst way to experience the magnificence that was the original Painkiller. The saddest part about it, is that when it gets down to the brass tacks, this is still Painkiller, it's got the same great gameplay as well as some of the best levels that the franchise has to offer, so at worst, you'll still be able to have a blast with the game... if you decide to get the barest Painkiller package possible.
 6.0 out of 10

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