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Even Hell Has Standards
Beginning as a fan-created mod, Painkiller: Overdose was recognized and supported by Dreamcatcher to become a full-fledged product in October 2007. The story consists of a main character Belial - the spawn of an illicit renedevous between an angel and a demon - who is imprisoned within the environs of Hell for being an aberration. Hate begins to build within him, and he vows to take revenge on all who were a part of his imprisonment. Much like the rest of the Painkiller series of games, that is about the extent of the storyline. Painkiller (the original game) was about killing things. Period. Okay, it had more of a storyline than that, but it was about having fun in an FPS shooting things. Overdose continues that tradition in the same style as its predecessors. Its not a fully developed plot-twisting storyline, but fans of the series aren't expecting that anyway. Storyline isn't where this game shines, but its unique quality is enough to make it definitive in the ocean of FPS games out today.
One thing to note is that while there isn't really a deep storyline to the game, the setting, the music, the weapons, and the enemies are all part of a grand theme - that of being a half-angel, half-demon walking his way through Hell. In that respect, the game is highly immersive and entertaining, easily achieving the goal of placing the player in that environment believably.
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Razor Cubes, BoneGuns, and Demon Heads
The weaponry introduced in Overdose is truly revolutionary - not in what they do, but just in what they are. The initial weapon is the Razor Cube, which is a cube made of metal blades that can be flung out at enemies. It then quickly returns back to you, which is nice in the event you find yourself out of ammo for the rest of the arsenal. Another gruesome addition to the weaponry is the Demon Head. This item is actually the head of the demon who was guarding the dungeon Belial is imprisoned in at the start of the game. How often do you get to walk around carrying a demon head with its tongue lolling out, let alone use it as a weapon? The BoneGun is equivalent to a shotgun, something no FPS would be complete without. What makes it unique however, is the fact that it shoots out high speed bone fragments as its primary fire and causes petrification of enemies as its secondary fire.
There is a crossbow, a rocket launcher, and a flintlock rifle - strangely out of place here - as well. Belial also gets to use a dagger filled with demonic power, known as a Shadow Blade. You don't stab with this weapon however, rather throwing it spinning into your enemies as the secondary fire. The primary fire of this weapon is fun though, as you send three spinning skulls out into the hordes to end their existence. Finally, you get to toss Demon Eggs at enemies or walls, where they stick until you detonate them using a left mouse click. The interesting part of this weapon however is that you can send out multiple eggs using the right mouse button, stacking them on a big boss-type so that you can take him out in one huge blow or clear the masses surrounding him.
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A Dark And Vengeful Flame
Visually, Overdose is dark and definitely in tune with the Painkiller theme. There are a lot of flames everywhere - hey its Hell, after all - and you can imagine just how uncomfortable afterlife existence in this realm would be. In some respects, it can be said that the visuals are basic and not really breathtaking. But they get the job done, and on a decent gaming rig you shouldn't see too much latency. If you're not sporting a decent graphics card however, you may have to tone down some of the visuals for performance reasons.
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Sounds of Persecution
One area that the Painkiller series has always shined is the music and sound quality. Overdose is no exception, busting out in each level with an appropriately harsh tune reminiscent of death metal music. That is to be expected here though, since this is a game about Hell. Much like the visuals, the sounds and music work very well as an accompaniment to the action going on. When the original Painkiller first came out, there were moments that the sound would cause lockups or outright crashes of the game. That has evidently been fixed in Overdose however, as there were no incidents of issues whatsoever while playing through the game.
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A Casual Romp Through Hell
Gameplay in Overdose is about what you expect in a FPS, though more basic and elementary than some games. The Painkiller franchise has always been about simplicity - a "shoot everything, let God sort 'em out" mentality. Overdose does not fail in this regard, so fans of previous renditions will enjoy the basic shooting fun of the game. One blaring issue with the game however, is the exceedingly long load times between levels. Even on a supreme gaming rig, you can expect a delay or pause in the action. Unfortunately, this has been a problem with all of the games in the series, but its not so long as to be unbearable - its just very noticeable.
Much like previous editions, Overdose includes the use of Tarot cards between levels. These can be unlocked via various achievements and can provide different enhancements to gameplay. Playing on different levels of difficulty also provides different cards to become available.
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What It Takes To Play With Fire
Overdose is not a very taxing game, other than having a decent graphics card. Here's what you'll need in order to run it successfully:
- Processor - PIII 1.5 Ghz or better
- RAM - 384MB
- Hard Drive - 1.2 GB
- Graphics - 64MB Directx 8.1 - compatible card
- OS - Windows XP (runs okay on Vista as well)
The review machine is 64bit hardware and a 64bit OS, so the game ran like a champ. As you can see though, even a fairly older system should be able to churn through this game with no problems.
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Rest In Pieces
All in all, Painkiller: Overdose is a worthy successor to the Painkiller franchise. The theme is still the same, though its a bit more grim and evil in this game. But the basic fun of shooting everything as you make your way through the levels is definitely there, making this a nice diversion from the norm. The harsh backbeat of the music is right in line with the feel of the game, drawing you in and keeping your foot thumping along as you bash your way through hordes of demons. If you're looking for something unique in the realm of FPS, Overdose is worth taking for a spin. There's no doubt you'll enjoy this fun and dark game.