Review by DFgear
The return to the FPS old school.
Painkiller: Hell wars is a FPS that retakes the feel and gameplay of the first FPS like Doom, Quake, or the like, in this Xbox version with expansion included.
They managed to make a nice conversion, however, the Xbox's limitations start to manifest with some loading screens in the middle of the levels (they don't take really too long) and a little lags once in a while, but the game manages to overcome all of this.
The story is just an excuse to set your character in the middle of some real freaky scenarios where he has to shoot down everything that moves, or doesn't, so let's see the facts of this game:
The game forgot about all the features that gradually got into shooters and goes back to basics: no objectives, no "action button", no environment interaction, no allies, no "reload" function on guns, just get into the room and kill everything, then go into the next room and kill everything, finally get into this other room and kill everything.
The game is all about action; enemies don't have advanced AI or group tactics ( you'll see them attack each other once in a while, remember Doom?) but some nice enemies features make up for some tactic approach instead of just mindless shooting: for example there's an enemy that you can kill only by making his gun explode, but you can also freeze it and frag it.
Other unique feature are the tarot cards; you get them by completing levels meeting a certain condition, and they give you a special power for some seconds or the whole level, depending on which card it is.They cost some money you get on levels by destroying stuff or killing, and they grant some nice replay value since the game is somewhat short.
The weapons system is sweet, the kind you would expect of a game like this. It has only 6 apparently, but each gun has 2 functions (there's a flamethrower with a rifle, a chaingun with rocket launcher, a shotgun with a freezer, etc.) for a total of 13 guns, because the painkiller (melee weapon) has 3 functions overall, which include throwing its spinning blades at your enemies.
Graphics look good overall, with sharp textures and finely designed levels and enemies, good use of color. The thing about them can be that buildings look blurry from afar, and so do enemies, but thats natural considering how big scenarios can be here.
Combines very realistic exploding and splattering sounds (really sounds great on a surround TV) with a fitting soundtrack, which combines some calmed, creepy music at non-battle time - not common - with some metal tunes during battles. There's no masterpiece in it, but really combines well with the rest.
Has the typical two sticks layout for FPS, with enough configuration options. Like I said, the gameplay is quite simple, so a couple buttons where left unused - no action, no reload - but the characters movement is very accurate and responsive, doesn't ever act on his own or disobey you.
Replay value: 7/10
Apart from 4 difficulty settings (the 2 hardest are unlockables) the conditions to get tarot cards offer a lot of replay value, but the real value of this game is to be such a retro shooter, going back to the days of insane and gory action of the originals.
So that's it; if you think shooters got a little complicated and miss the 90's where you only had to tear a horde of demons apart with a gun the size of a teenager, this game will surely get you back to the FPS days.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
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