Review by Ginghamphatts
"Just Shoot EVERYTHING"
This game has its roots in the PC game of the same name (but lacking the sub-title). Given that my PC isn't exactly up to par and cannot handle a game like Painkiller means I've had no experience with the PC version, leaving me to see this game purely as a platform game. A 7 out of 10 means it's a pretty average game, and it is. The game takes the elements of a good FPS and executes them well, but not extraordinarily so.
In terms of story: there is one, but it is in no way memorable. There was one thing about the character and his death, then some more story about the devil and the demon generals...blah blah blah. You'll get the full story from playing the game, but you probably won't remember it either. It seems mostly to be there to lead you from point to point and tell you why you're doing so. But this game really isn't supposed to be about story from what I gather of it, so I guess you can't be too hard on it now...
After mentioning the story, I feel like I have to mention sound. If you've ever played a game with very good voice acting, then this game will probably make you laugh. The voicing isn't done as well as it could have been, which is part of what makes the story seem like such a side show. As for the weapon sounds, I can't really complain. No one I know has ever fired a weapon in Purgatory, so I can't really say if they're realistic or not, but each weapon does have it's own distinctive firing noise. And that noise is one that isn't marred by any disgustingly obvious audio glitches. Explosions sound like explosions and the enemies sound like you might imagine they would. Again, can't really complain about it...
I can, however, complain about the game play. ...Actually, I'm lying. This is probably where the game comes through the strongest. It turns out to be pure, adrenaline-fueled combat. You really can just shoot everything. Shoot your enemies, shoot items that blow up to kill your enemies, or shoot barrels and boxes to obtain gold coins. "Gold Coins?" you ask. Why yes, gold coins. They are used in the games Tarot card system. It is a system by which you "equip" obtained cards in order to gain special effects. One variety is a one-use type that you get to use only once per level. The second is a constant-effect type which sets in place at the beginning of the level and lasts throughout. There is a ton of ammo lying around for most of the game, so you probably won't have any trouble keeping your killing stocks up. Some ammo is hard to come by in certain parts of the game, and easier to find in others, so you do have to adapt somewhat to the area you're playing.
While there may be a relatively small number of weapons, each one also has an almost stand-alone secondary attack that can usually be considered a completely new weapon. Take one of the more creative weapons for example: the stake gun by itself is a fairly crafty weapon and is fun to use. Yet this gun also gets its own attached grenade launcher for no apparent reason. Oh well, it's fun! The pairing may seem odd for a lot of the weapons, but it turns out there is a good synergy between them. It also allows you to be prepared for a large number of situations.
Another game play quirk is that you can collect the souls of your destroyed enemies. Upon collecting a given number, you transform into a demon. After transforming, you're pretty much unstoppable -- for a short period of time.
In terms of visuals, this game does nothing special, however. Don't take that the wrong way, everything looks just fine. The special effects are nice, enemies look decent, the game is basically at a mediocre level. Things such as explosions could have looked more spectacular, the enemies a little more detailed, etc. The visuals work well for the game and don't detract from your experience in any way, but they do not serve to enhance your experience and immerse you into the game in any special way.
Without Live, there is pretty much zero replay value for this game. You may come back after a while just to have the fun of shooting up everything or maybe to play a harder difficulty, but that's just about it. There really aren't any great incentives to keep playing. And since I don't have Live, I cannot give any information on what that experience is like.
Overall: Painkiller: Hell Wars turns out to be just your average shooter that happens to be a lot of fun just to play mindlessly. It's probably worth a rent if you're a fan of the FPS genre, or maybe a buy if you find it really cheap.
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 06/18/07
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