Platforms: PC | Xbox 360 | PS3
Developer: The Farm 51
Publisher: Nordic Games
Painkiller Hell & Damnation wants to rock it old-school and we’re more than a little up for that in the midst of all the identikit military shooters. Brash and often ridiculous weaponry complimented by simple ‘kill everything’ gameplay is just what the FPS world needs write now. While usually the domain of the PC gamer, the game will be coming to Xbox 360 alongside the PC release, with a PS3 version to follow in 2013.
The game is actually a HD remake of the original Painkiller and the Battle out of Hell expansion pack. Thanks to the polish added by the Unreal Engine 3, the game is looking pretty impressive, although we’re only shown a brief stage in a night time graveyard and the opera house.
The aim of the game, for all you newcomers, is to get Daniel to collect 7000 souls for Death. Death isn't too keen on Daniel, seeing as he should have died a thousand times already, so he's going to put you to work even though you're now technically dead after a car crash.
Death hands Daniel the only true new weapon in Painkiller: Hell & Damnation, the Soul Catcher. A shuriken launcher with a secondary fire that leeches the souls from enemy bones. It’s a little slow, but you don’t have to use it as souls can be picked up on foot after killing enemies with any gun. The visual design of the weapon is almost laughably over-the-top. It’s all spikes, spinning parts and skulls making it a bit like a try-hard Goth decoration, but OTT feels right for the game.
In a great throwback to classic shooters, every weapon has a secondary fire function; a feature that’s been forgotten this generation, mainly so we can have a button dedicated to smoke grenades. Great. Thanks.
The double-barrelled shotgun packs a mean punch that sends skeleton attackers flying backward in a cloud of broken bones, while a useful secondary fire option freezes enemies, especially useful for larger armoured enemies with shields. The slow firing stake gun has a grenade feature that more than makes up for the slow rate-of-fire. Another shuriken-style weapon allows you to fire rounds into walls and then fire electricity at them to conduct a powerful bolt of lightning to ensnare enemies.
When Daniel has harvested 66 souls he can use Demon Mode to become invincible for a short time and use an additional psi-blast power. The screen also goes black and white, highlighting enemies in red, allowing you to focus on them much easier than in the usual darkness of the graveyard.
Each single-player stage will avoid reusing any assets, so the stages and enemies will be fresh for each. After the graveyard we saw the opera house which featured zombies emerging from the earth in the cellar area before we made it up into the main area, which turned into an arena survival contest in front of the stage.
It’s not just the weapons that will please old-school fans. Coins found throughout the stages and in breakable objects will come in useful for buying powerups too. Painkiller says no to modern features like aiming down the sights and regenerating health. Firing from the hip while backtracking and circle-strafing are all the tactics you’ll need here on your quest for 7000 souls.
So your trigger finger will be busy as you make your way through 14 levels. Multiplayer options will feature too with a co-op campaign available and competitive PvP and PvE options. Playing in co-op will add extra enemies and boss fights will be even tougher. So taking on the titan-esque Archdemon, should provide quite the challenge. Especially as he’s so big that he blocks out the sun. We’re told that the console version of the game will “probably” have splitscreen. Hey, if they’re honestly aiming for old-school cool, it better be there.
A cheaper price point will be used to draw in the COD and Battlefield crowd, so expect the PC version to be available for around twenty Euros and the console version at around thirty.
Painkiller: Hell & Damnation will be released October 31st on PC and Xbox 360. The PS3 version will follow in 2013.