I love modern day action games with a firm emphasis on realism, but at times, I do crave for that mindless shooter. I’m talking about games that hand you an arsenal of weapons, allow you to carry more than two weapons at a time, and encourage you to go freaking crazy, killing hordes of enemies per level. No need to worry about health regeneration, cover system, reloading your weapons or babysitting your team mates. No sir. Death is around every corner and you greet it with open arms, a shotgun, a chain gun and a rocket launcher. For me, this is why Painkiller: Hell and Damnation feels like a breath of fresh-air from all the “authentic” shooters flooding the market today.
Hell and Damnation is part HD remake and part reboot, but the story remains unchanged. You’ll step into the boots of Daniel Garner as he’s forced to slay Lucifer’s generals to save his wife, who along with him lands up in purgatory after a violent car crash. You’ll get to play through certain levels from Painkiller as well as its expansion, Battle out of Hell. in HD along with new content developed by The Farm 51 themselves. What I seriously don’t understand is why they only remade half the game. Some of Painkiller’s best levels. like the creepy town part, are completely left out, and that’s bound to disappoint fans. Even with the remade content and the new levels, Painkiller HD is extremely low on content, and on normal difficulty, I went through the game in about four hours. Budget game or not, that’s far too less.
While the shortage of content definitely hurts the game, you’ll be glad to know that gameplay itself is rock solid. It’s just like you remember it – fast paced, bloody, brutal and highly satisfying. Besides moving from Point A to B and slaughtering anything that moves, you can look around for collectibles and gold coins, and collect the souls of your slain foes. Collect 66 of them and you’ll be able to morph into the stuff nightmares are made off, decimating enemies in a single blow. Each level also has an objective, like beating it in a certain amount of time or devouring an X amount of souls. Perform these and you unlock Tarot Cards, which when equipped, grant Garner certain powers, like the ability to slow time down, carry more ammunition, and so on. This is about as complex as Painkiller gets.
Thanks to the Unreal 3 engine, Painkiller HD looks quite nice, although you really shouldn’t compare it to games like Crysis 3 and Far Cry 3. It also maintains a smooth frame rate throughout all the hectic action and the ginormous boss fights. Painkiller was lauded for its disturbing rendition of certain hellish locales, and Painkiller HD continues that tradition with great aplomb. Special mention goes out to the orphanage level that genuinely creeped me out with fat undead perverts and dead children that self immolate at will. Painkiller HD does offer players a multiplayer component, just like its predecessor, but I’m not even going to mention it because it seems like no one is playing it. I waited in lobbies for hours (over a few days), but couldn’t find a soul to play with. This new iteration does ship with co-operative play, but once again, the co-op lobbies were a graveyard.
I personally enjoyed Painkiller HD, but the lack of content was definitely a major letdown. The Farm 51 did a good job of sprucing up People Can Fly’s 2004 shooter visually, and while their own levels do lack a certain charm and polish, they’re fun to play through nevertheless. Had the game shipped with all of Painkiller’s levels, in addition to the new content, I would have blindly recommended it. But sadly, that’s not the case and as enjoyable as it is, I would recommend picking it up during one of Steam’s many sales.
- It's Painkiller in freaking HD
- Extremely short
- Dead on arrival multiplayer
It’s brutal, fast paced and satisfying, but the shortage of content really holds back Painkiller Hell and Damnation.