Jeremy Plante brought it to my attention that we don’t cover any horror video games that come out. For awhile now I’ve wanted to cover them, but it takes enough time out of my life doing what I do right now. So Jeremy offered his assistance so you horror fans can find out what games are good, since he claims some games are better than the movies. Inside you’ll find his first review, which is for Painkiller…
Painkiller Review by:
AnotherDimension (Jeremy Plante)
It wasn’t long ago now I decided my hunkering relic of a pc was in desperate need of being chained to the back of an equally outdated Pinto and driven off a cliff with enough C4 attached to ensure that neither the beastly 8 track player inside nor the 40 some odd gigabytes of virus infected Paris Hilton videos, illegally downloaded Asian horror movies, and embarrassing collection of one hit wonders on the hard drive would survive. I’ve been long out of the pc gaming loop and demoted to the entertaining, yet often-inferior game play and graphics of my PS2 and Xbox. So to guarantee my resurrection into the holy bliss of pc gaming, I purchased a monstrous system the likes of which hard-core gamers and general techno-junkies alike would split the pants of their Star Trek costumes bowing before. A frightening 256MB, ATI Radeon 9800XT fuelled, 3 ghz driven, 2 gigs of Gold Edition OCZ Ram, juggernaut of fierce gaming power that could handle the new wave of graphically intense, 5.1 surround sound ambient games that line the walls of every pc gaming store these days. For my first round of auditory and cornea blistering warfare I decided to pick out the game which to me looked like it had the highest potential to overload my senses and appease my sadistic desire to blow things up. That game was “Painkiller” by DreamCatcher Interactive Inc and it was just the evil communion ceremony needed to usher me back into the church of PC First Person Shooters.
It begins with your generic unlikely hero who goes by the name Daniel Garner dying in a car accident with his better half Catherine while going to make dinner reservations on a dark and stormy night. Pretty basic I know, and leaves you wondering why they didn’t just order out or do what normal people would and call in their reservation. But lacklustre plots and illogical decision-making are still at the core of many gruesomely entertaining movies and games. Daniel finds himself in a purgatory of pain and suffering and confronted by a heavenly messenger known as Sammael who presents our raven haired, stoic hero with an offer. Its quite simple actually, travel through a demon infested land and defeat the four generals of Lucifer’s army and he’ll be granted everlasting, blissful reunion in pixelated video game heaven with his wife Catherine. Or he can choose to stay in the bowels of the afterlife alone and forever stuck in the horrid purgatory. Watching Daniel Garner accumulate pit stains on his shirt and scratch himself for eternity would make dull game, so we know where he goes and what he ends up doing. But what we’re not full prepared for is the 24 stages of carnage and adrenaline overdose that begins at this point.
One of my biggest beefs with game makers over recent years is how they have come to the conclusion that all games have to be ridiculously complex and sometimes even attempt to be pretentiously plotted and designed for those who think the more there is to do automatically means the more fun the game is. This is wrong. We all remember the wasted weekends and countless hours of pure FUN had with the likes of Contra and Doom and Wolfenstein years ago. These were not games that required you master your reloading skills, take 16 hours of virtual training to calibrate and correctly aim your night vision laser rifles, have an abacus and scientific calculator handy to plot the trajectory of each bullet and a PHD in Quantum Physics and Three Dimensional puzzle solving equations to make it from level to level. What made old school shooters like Doom so fun was that there were hordes of monsters, a nice array of weapons to blow them up like a poodle in a microwave with, and non-stop action that appeased our ADD suffering, Memory-of-a-goldfish-but-bloodthirst-of-a-piranha type, MTV generation minds. I know that some take great enjoyment out of 50 key control configurations, spending 6 hours deciphering hieroglyphics to unlock a door, and a 25 tab assets and objects collected screen. But not this guy. I just want to kill a bunch of stuff in the fastest, coolest, and most disgusting way possible to fight off my road rage and have a nice outlet for any displaced aggression that doesn’t cost $200 an hour with some therapist. Painkiller is just that, pure graphic, gory, intense, escapism at mach 5 and a fun factor unrivalled in recent years by game makers.
Any simplicity in this game due to a modest plot or games controls, is more than made up for by the Havok 2.0 engine than propels this maniacal genius of a deathfest. We are all accustomed to shooting someone in a FPS and seeing them slump to the ground, hop a few times then fall over, explode in a little puff of red, or god forbid just disappear like a bad Star Trek transporters special effect. But this game takes killing the bad guys (And there are a plethora to choose from) to a whole new level of gruesome demise. The Havoc 2.0 engine has upped the level of game physics and therefore increased the eye candy factor tenfold. One of the best examples of this is with your stake-shooting crossbow. Instead of just hitting a zombie or demon biker and watching him fall to the ground; in this game depending where you shoot him, what level or object they are standing on, and from how far you shoot, they will react differently. I hit one horrid beast in the leg and he actually spun in the air a few feet, bounced off a pillar and got pinned to the wall upside down where he twitched in some George Romero version of the “Humpty Dance” until I blew up a near by powder keg and unleashed a whole new screenfull of bloody mayhem on his fugly looking comrades.
The levels in this game or so exquisitely interactive that the ways each beat will find its eventual demise by your arsenal of weapons is almost unlimited. Both Daniel and the unholy legions he faces can use and interact with almost anything in the game. Try pushing a powder keg down an incline towards a gang of ghouls and wiping out the snotley crew in a burst of green goo by shooting it when it gets close. And don’t fear if you run out of ammo in this game. You’re always equipped with your primary weapon the title “Painkiller”. Ron Popeil himself would be in awe and proud of this Cuisine-Art gone wild entrails processor. Forget about Ginsu knives, this thing will cut through more than frozen spinach and coke cans…. it will obliterate the possessed cartilage and unholy fibres that make up the rancid hellions that plague your every second of game play.
And if the impressive weapons which all have primary and secondary uses, phantasmagorical executions, and cranium-shattering physics don’t have you excited like a fat kid in Willy Wonka’s factory; then just wait until you’ve collected 66 souls from the undead you slaughter each level. When this occurs, Daniel turns into a Tasmanian devil of sorts that can just rampage through the level incinerating and laying waste to anything or anyone in his temporarily demonic path. Not to mention the very effective music which goes from creepy ambient gothic right into slaytanic metal riffs when each grudge match with the armies of hell begins. After all, what is a nice looking game that is fun to play if you don’t have the appropriately savage music to pump you up during each battle?
So for those of you ready to have your eyeballs gouged with stunningly articulated graphics and dynamic, interactive environments swarming and crawling and sometimes hopping (Hell has a lot of amputees apparently in this game) brutal creatures this game is unquestionably for you. Monsters all possess high polygon counts and the Havok engine really creates fluid motion for them all and jaw dropping physics to fully express their terrorizing and eventual bloody deaths. Any purist of the genre will be gleefully slaughtering away the hours and reminiscing about the old days when games were fun, not midterms on math and problem solving skills. If an elaborate story and overly complex controls and missions are needed for you to mentally masturbate yourself into feeling like a gaming deity, perhaps just download the demo first before dishing out the cash for the full version. For those that just want to have their testosterone/estrogen levels skyrocket while butchering the dark minions of the underworld in a variety of effectively gloomy locations with a variety of effectively brutal weapons plus have more fun than you thought you’d ever have with a FPS again doing so……….. then I’d highly recommend “Painkiller” by Dreamcatcher Interactive. Inc.
4 and 1/2 skulls out of 5
Check the website for more info on DreamCatcher games at http://www.dreamcatchergames.com/
Or go to the official Painkiller website for downloads and screenshot at http://www.painkillergame.com/index2.php.