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System: PC
Players: 1 or more
ESRB Rating: Mature
Publisher: Dreamcatcher
Developer: People Can Fly
Price: $29.99
Rating: 9 of 10

Review by Brutilus

My name is Daniel Garner and I remember everything about the night I died.

It was a dark and stormy night.

Catherine and I were going out to dinner.
She had never looked so beautiful...
In the car, I reached over to take her hand. I couldn't stop staring into her eyes.

Suddenly, the world got very bright, there was a sudden jolt, and then everything went black.
The next thing I knew, I was drafted into Heaven's army.
They tell me I'm not allowed to enter the gates because I'm not pure enough. They say that there was something in my life that is keeping me here.

What a load of crap! I was a good man and I lead a good life!

Now I'm supposed to take care of 5 of Satan's generals. Once I do that, I can be reunited with Catherine in Heaven.

If awards were being handed out now, this would be my hands down winner for game of the year.

People Can Fly hit the proverbial ball out of the park with this one. Perfection in graphics and physics... Magnificent sound... Insanity in gameplay... Great replay value... But let me slow down a bit.

OK... *breathe*

Sounds like a serious game, right?

Wrong. This is an exceptional festival of gore and violence interrupted periodically by cutscenes and suffering from no stupid puzzles.

In short, things go "boom" and "splortch" with amazing frequency.

Click meThe gameplay is "run & gun" in its purest form. Waves of creatures spawn into these enormous, elaborate, and beautiful levels then you have to take care of them. There are no puzzles to solve, no people to protect, and no quests to complete. Get in, blow the Hell out of Satan's goons, and move to your next battleground. At times, it is like being on a 50-100 person deathmatch server.

There are four skill levels in Painkiller: Daydream, Insomnia, Nightmare, & Trauma.

The skill levels do not denote a difference in the difficulty of the enemies. Every creature requires the same amount of punishment to destroy in Daydream as in Trauma. By doing this, you can learn the best way to deal with every enemy in Painkiller by playing through on Daydream. Your skill set, ammunition comsumption, and timing doesn't have to change. I don't know about you, but having to pump 5 rounds into an enemy on the hardest difficulty level that only took 1 on easy pisses me off.

What's the difference, you ask? Simply put, it's health recovery.

In Daydream and Insomnia, enemies leave their souls lying around for you to pick up to regain health. At the save points in each level, you also receive a significant health recharge. Then comes Nightmare and Insomnia...

In Nightmare, you cease getting health recharges at save points, but monsters still leave their souls. In Trauma, there are no souls.

How are you supposed to manage running this gauntlet? The Black and Gold Tarot cards...

There are two decks of tarot cards that you earn by completing each mission and accomplishing a given goal. Some levels ask you to finish them by using only one weapon while others want you to find all the secrets.

The tarot cards themselves grant you special powers. There are 23 tarot cards in all. The gold cards are short term effects that you can only use a limited number of times per level. The black cards are permanent effects. The effects of the cards are quite diverse, from damage multipliers to changing the amount of health you start with.

The cutscenes between chapters are the only place where plot development occurs. But that is fine by me.

You'll finish each level with a progressive amount of twitchiness and feel a need to play the next. When you finish each difficulty level you'll need to try the next. You'll reach for the mouse and go back to each level to find that one last secret place that is eluding you.

There is little of the "been there, done that" feeling you get with many of today's shooters. When my buddies and I first played it, there was an almost palpable sense of excitement as each new level was loading. For a jaded bunch of twitch gaming junkies, that's saying something. The last thing we were this excited about was Half Life.

Does anyone else smell bacon?By no means is this a game for kids. Not because of the difficulty. I know 12 year olds that can 0wxor me in Q3. This is an extraordinarily violent game with an abnormally large amount of gore, disturbing imagery, and some mild nudity.

The nudity only comes in the cut scenes. There is a female character, Eve, that gives Daniel guidance. She seems to like walking around topless. Her hair covers everything most of the time, but from time to time...

You may wonder why I have wasted your time mentioning this (aside from the boobies reference which I'm sure you'll all go hunting for), but I promise that you won't want to pay the therapy bills for an 8 year old that got his hands on this game.

Let's get back to the good stuff... (Page 2 >>)

All images are property of Dreamcatcher and People Can Fly. Article © 2004

Click for great savings Site Map Copyright 2002 Age Owns Productions

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