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Welcome To Painkiller
In April 2004, DreamCatcher Interactive put out a new FPS game with the ominous name Painkiller. This FPS game was unlike any other however, featuring intriguing environments, innovative weapons, and ragdoll physics that were just downright fun. Oh, and did I mention that the game was set in Hell and Purgatory? Yes, this title was not for the younger gamers. It prominently featured a 16+ indicator on the box, and the designers weren't kidding around.
Painkiller took the FPS genre back to basics. The gameplay was simple - kill everything. In it's simplicity however, it was very unique. For example, the first weapon you use is the Painkiller. This distinct gun (if you can call it that) could fire a beam of light with a rotating blade on the end that damaged (and sometimes grabbed) your enemy. You could also fire just the rotating blade, cutting through enemies as it went. This weapon never ran out of ammo, because the blade always returned back with the flick of the mouse button.
Other weapons included a stake shooter than could pin enemies to walls (a particularly entertaining aspect of the game) or launch explosive grenades, a shotgun-like weapon that could also freeze your enemies, and of course a rocket launcher. While the weapons themselves were very similar to other FPS games, their implementation and design was unique.
The storyline was well-developed and compelling. The main character by the name of Daniel Garner became stuck in Purgatory after he and his wife Catherine were involved in a car crash. Lucifer planned an assault on Heaven, and only Daniel could stop it (by taking out Lucifer's four generals). There were other notable characters Daniel ran into, such as a woman named Eve and a demon named Asmodeus. And eventually Daniel even ran up against Lucifer himself, all in the hopes of rejoining his wife in Heaven.
Painkiller featured some breathtaking visuals. While the whole game was dark, the use of the Havok 2.0 physics engine provided for some graphics that left the player in awe (assuming you have time to look around between dodging attacks). The levels were vast, the enemies appropriately evil looking, and the bosses impressive beyond measure.
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Painkiller: Battle Out Of Hell
After a very warm reception from fans of Painkiller, an expansion titled Painkiller: Battle Out Of Hell was introduced in November 2004. This game resumed where the first one left off, with Daniel trying to fight his way out of Hell. The demon Alastor from the first game showed up once more as Daniel's nemesis as well as endless hordes of demons. By the end of this title, Daniel found himself with a decision once more as Eve took over control of Hell (after he had rid her of Alastor of course), offering him a position by her side.
This game featured 10 single player levels and continued the Painkiller tradition of basic FPS gaming fun. It also featured two new weapons, an engaging multiplayer mode, and a greatly improved visual experience. After working your way through the game, there was little chance you wouldn't be smiling at the end.
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This entry in the Painkiller series was a distinct departure from the previous two. For starters, it began as a fan-created mod. It also came out almost three years after Battle Out Of Hell. The original publisher Dreamcatcher however, decided they liked it and gave Mindware Studios full financial backing and support for this interesting followup. In October 2007, the title hit shelves and provide another way for fans to enjoy the Painkiller FPS gaming.
The most prominent difference in this title was the entry of a new main character, a demon prisoner by the name of Belial. When Daniel defeated Lucifer in the first game, Belial was able to break free of his prison. He was a bit upset with his jailor, as evidenced by the way he used the jailor's skull as his first weapon.
The weapons were similar in function though different in design. The stake shooter for example, was replaced by a crossbow that performed the same function - pinning enemies to walls or each other. The skull of Belial's jalor was an awesome replacement for the painkiller weapon. In this respect, fans could expect similar gameplay from previous editions of the game.
One area that this game suffered greatly - much like all the Painkiller games, though to a lesser extent - was performance. Load times for the levels in Painkiller games had always been long, but Overdose seemed to be worse (if that was possible). The developers' attempts at improving the visual experience resulted instead in frequent slowdowns, making the player feel as if they were walking in slow motion.
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The last (but hopefully not least) entry in the Painkiller series is called Resurrection. This title came out in April 2009, published by JoWood Entertainment and Homegrown Games, and the game does a decent job of bringing the series back its original roots. The main character here is William Sherman, an assassin who suddenly develops a conscience as the C-4 he plants on a mobster's car takes out a busload of children. He dies in the explosion, but he's sent to Purgatory instead of going to a much hotter locale. The storyline begins here and is just as involved as all the previous editions. One twist to this game however, is the possibility of three different endings.
The game takes you back to basics with the weapons, featuring the Painkiller once more. All the classics are back, including the always fun stake shooter. There are new enemies and new tactics to use, but the elements of basic FPS gameplay are ever present. The visuals are updated and beautiful, but the slow loadtimes unfortunately are still there. Still, the game has all the fun of the original Painkiller game enclosed in a new storyline and updated graphics. Since the first one was such an awesome ride, you can expect the same amount of enjoyment from Resurrection as well.
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The Painkiller series of games are basic FPS fun. They're not perfect of course, but they succeed where they intend to; they create a battlefield full of enemies, hand you interesting weapons, and ring a gong. Survival is up to you and there's nothing more fun that pinning somebody to a wall with a stake. There are other features in the games, such as hidden rewards and special cards you can receive for doing certain things like using only the Painkiller throughout a level. The graphics are not on the level of Oblivion or Crysis, but they do the job and can look really nice on today's hardware. And the storyline flows through every game in a very real and endearing way. While you might have to check on Ebay to find some of the older titles, all of these are worth at least one play through.