In case you noticed, we did review this game on the PC a little while ago. If you wanted to see what we thought of the game back then, you can follow the link. However, this time Nordic Games have ported their game to the PS3 and Xbox 360. While it would seem safe to assume that things have changed for the better since Nordic Games had the benefit of getting feedback from the PC release, the fact remains that not much has changed since it was last seen. There is some new content exclusive to the console, but unfortunately going back for another round of Hell & Damnation just doesn’t make sense.
Painkiller: Hell & Damnation is a first person shooter from the minds at Nordic Games. They claim this game is a remake or remaster of the original Painkiller game and its expansion pack: Painkiller: Battle Out of Hell. Nordic Games went back, updated the visuals and optimized the gameplay for a new generation of gaming consoles considering that the original game came out in 2004 when the PlayStation 2 / Xbox were the consoles of choice. Unfortunately, the game has not aged well over the nine years it has been in existence. The end result is a dated game that feels more like a chore to play than something that will remind you of the good times you had a decade ago.
The story of Painkiller is rather simplistic, but it goes something like this. You play as Daniel Garner who is trapped in hell. You soon find yourself among hordes and hordes of demons with only one way out, killing everything that stands in your way. Daniel ultimately wants to be reunited with his love Catherine but to do so, he must harvest 7000 demon’s souls. Once he gets those souls, he can escape the clutches of hell and get back together with Catherine. And so begins our trek through the many levels of hell collecting the souls we need to escape. Along the way, you’ll get access to new weapons, many of which do not follow the typical weapons you are used to playing with. Instead of M16s, you fight with guns that shoot wooden stakes, Soul Catchers and Ice Shotguns. These weapons are a nice change from the normal weapons you play with but that novelty only lasts so long before the gameplay catches up to you. There are other power-ups available as you continue fighting your way though the game. You can collect tarot cards to temporarily boost your power. After you collect 66 souls, you will have the ability to change into a demon yourself for a short time.
Unfortunately, this is where the gameplay just repeats itself and we get stuck in a non-stop kill, run, shoot cycle that is stuck on repeat. As you move forward with the game, you do the same thing over and over again. There are no mechanics that are introduced that mix up the gameplay at all. Even when you get to a boss battle, the same run and kill mechanics apply. You don’t have to think, you don’t have to plan, just rinse and repeat. Inevitably, you’ll get bored and any game that bores you, isn’t worth playing. To add insult to injury, the level design of this game just highlights the monotony found in this game. You simply have to run from point A to point B, no traversing, no scenery just running through an endless horde of demons in a dark room. If it sounds like more of the same, that is because that is the underlying feeling of this entire game.
The game also comes with two modes aside from the single player campaign. The first mode is survivor mode, which takes away any hope of completing the level. You will fight wave after wave of enemies until you die or you quit, whichever comes first. We’ll bet you quit. The second mode is a co-op mode where you can play with your friends. The problem with this mode is you don’t know where your partner is so you can easily get separated. This weakens the mode since keeping the lines of communication open is essential for co-op play.
From a technical standpoint, the game is on par with what you would expect from a modern game release. However, the environments rarely change from the drab and dull graveyard or the standard indoors fighting that you do, so this game doesn’t push the system. Everything runs well enough with a minimal amount of technical issues to speak of, which is a good thing. However, the soundtrack in this game is definitely sub-par. There is a generic rock riff that loops endlessly in the background. It is enough to drive you crazy. With all the directions they could have taken the score, this was definitely the worst choice possible.
While Painkiller: Hell & Damnation is by no means broken from a technical standpoint, it will test the patience of even the most seasoned players. The game defines what is in its wheelhouse and it never leaves the confines it set up. This game doesn’t present the gamer with anything other than the shoot and run mechanic and that just isn’t good enough in today’s marketplace. With the boundaries constantly being pushed and redefined by other games in the genre, we could not recommend this game even at a lower price point. Do yourself, and your sanity, a favor and leave this game alone. There are better games out there that deserve your money more.
This review is based on a review copy of the PlayStation 3 version of Painkiller: Hell and Damnation developed by The Farm 51 published by Nordic Games
- Tarot Card System
- Poor Sound / Graphics
- Monotony to the Extreme