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Xbox 360 Game Review

Painkiller: Hell & Damnation


Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: Nordic Games
Developer: The Farm 51
RRP: £39.99
Age Restrictions: 18+
Release Date: 28 June 2013

Painkiller: Hell & Damnation recreates the sensations and hardcore game play of the original Painkiller. Released in 2004, Painkiller won high praise and many accolades and fans for its fast and unique game play. Keeping true to the old-school FPS ideology, lightning-fast movement enables skillful players to get into the heart of the fast-paced game play, topped off with stunning enormo-boss fights requiring sneaky tactics...

Review imageIf you're a fan of classic old-school first person shooters (FPS), then there's a certain charm to be had with Painkiller: Hell & Damnation. Personally, I think releasing new games with an old-school playability is a little pointless. There's a reason why the gaming industry has moved on from the likes of Doom and Quake. They were fantastic for their time, but limited in outlook. Likewise, with so many FPS at the cutting edge of technology, entering the world of Painkiller seems a little quaint to start with, but it soon becomes a little too repetitive.

What makes this even more farcical is the fact that the images used to promote the game aren't even screen grabs of the game play. The images that accompany this review are chosen from the standard release images, but are actually from cut sequences. I found this odd; if you're proud to be releasing an old school game shouldn't you be showing that it's old school, rather than trying to make it look like a more modern FPS? Even the trailer video on sites like Amazon fails to show any game play.

Review imageThe campaign game sees you play as Daniel Garner who has made a pact to roam through the levels in purgatory collecting as many souls as he can. Once he has collected 66 souls he transforms into a demon for a brief period, allowing him to kill more enemies quickly. And, once he has finally collected enough souls to let me free from his pact, he may finally get closure by meeting with his deceased wife.

The most enjoyable aspect is the engaging level design (for example there's a haunted house and an old fairground) with well thought out foes inhabiting all of them. While this is very much a game where you are bombarded by wave after wave of identical beasties, they throw a new one in just often enough to keep you coming back for more. Likewise, new weapons appear just often enough to keep things interesting.

Every now and then there's a boss to destroy. While it's not overly obvious what you have to do to make them fall, they have a health indicator, so you can see when simply firing at them is not having the desired result. It's best to examine your surroundings and think logically how elements hidden in plain sight can be used to your advantage.

Review imageWhile the campaign game is enjoyable, the multiplayer mode is where the most fun is to be had - and is where you'll probably spend most of your time once you get the hang of the controls. Aiming isn't as easy as most FPS. There's no scope option to allow you to focus where you discharge your weapons. Your sights are clearly marked on the centre of the screen and it's simply a case of moving that over the enemy and hitting fire.

The whole old school angle, to me, just makes it feel like a game that has been rushed through production; that marketing it as a retro game was the cheapest and easiest option. If this had been brought up to date then it would have been a much better game, as it stands, however, it will only really appeal to fans of the original, and those that grew up on Doom and are desperate to a return to that era.


Darren Rea

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