Developer: The Farm 51
Publisher: Nordic Games
Painkiller: Hell & Damnation may have been a satisfyingly tub-thumping slice of retro action, but Nordic's revamp came under fire for offering only a small selection of classic levels for its budget price tag. Where's 'Town,' we wondered. Where's 'Leningrad?'
Well, they've now arrived courtesy of the magic of downloadable content. The Farm 51 have recently released two singleplayer-centric expansions: the brilliantly-named The Clock Strikes Meat Night followed by Operation Zombie Bunker. They're inexpensively priced at £5.99 a pop, and both offer some pleasingly meaty combat to sink your buckshot, shuriken, lightning or enormous razor sharp discs into.
Of course, it's worth remembering that you could pick up the Painkiller Black Edition for the same money - not to mention full indie games. It's time, then, for a double-header review.
The Clock Strikes Meat Night
At first glance, The Clock Strikes Meat Night is incredibly light on new content, and the feeling of being short-changed only increases as you blast through its 2-3 hours of brainless if satisfying combat. Starting strong with a re-imagined revamp of one of the original levels (Town) you'll face off against hordes of zombies and cackling witches in a plague-ridden medieval village, while sampling a new akimbo power up that lets you temporarily dual wield any of Painkiller's wondrous arsenal. It's a great first impression and an expansive new environment to explore.
But then The Clock Strikes Meat Night calls time on genuinely 'new' stuff, and inexplicably decides to just expand on two existing Hell & Damnation levels. Namely, Bridge and Asylum.
There's a new boss, who's painfully awful, requiring almost no strategy or skill to defeat beyond bunny hopping around like a loon. An expanded sewer environment offers predictable thrills in the most over-used and trite of settings. While the new enemies such as lightning fast ninjas and grisly necrotic lepers are challenging to face off against, it's hard to justify shelling out for what's ultimately a tiny and incremental update.
The old rope may be a proper laugh, especially in co-op, but it's probably not worth your good money.
- 'Town' is enjoyable and expansive
- Interesting new enemy types and fun akimbo power up
- Painfully bereft of genuinely new content
Operation Zombie Bunker
The clue's in the name. Operation Zombie Bunker offers up a military-themed selection of new and re-worked levels, along with all the gung-ho militaria you can handle. Daniel Garner is an equal opportunities demon killer, slaughtering both undead Russians, Americans and Nazis through a breathlessly entertaining three hours of tight corridors and enormous open spaces bristling with tanks, bombers and even the occasional UFO.
A brand new level (the titular Bunker) focuses on World War II-themed butchery and features an enjoyable new boss, while the retouched 'Military Base' delivers an unapologetically gruesome battle against zombie commandos before deploying a full-on flying saucer. Leningrad makes a welcome return as 'Stalingrad,' fielding tanks, turrets, flamethrower-equipped goons alongside a nifty mix of engagement ranges. It's all meaty and surprisingly varied fare, buoyed up with a helpful new tarot card and a suitably silly spiked mace to bash your enemies to bits with.
That said, the Blitzkrieg does hit several snags. Most of the environments prove to be empty, drab and devoid of detail even by Painkiller standards, while Stalingrad exhibits bizarrely labyrinthine geometry that snags enemies behind walls or leads to periods of aggravating confusion as you search for the right ladder in a nightmarish warren of ladders. The enemy palatte is also a little on the unimaginative side to say the least: once you've seen one zombie soldier, you've seen all (several hundred) of them.
But if you enjoy blowing off steam with Painkiller: Hell & Damnation, Operation Zombie Bunker makes a compelling case for its £5.99.
- Fun on a bun
- Insanely intense and varied encounters
- Drab and spartan environments (even by Painkiller standards)
- Some confusing level geometry, both for players and AI