A quick jump to the publisher’s Painkiller page isn’t all that exciting. The game seems to be touting features that were revolutionary back when Quake was just a twinkle in John Carmack’s eye. When you read a feature like “Intense gameplay: The player will be constantly outnumbered, fighting against seemingly insurmountable odds”, you think to yourself, hey, didn’t Serious Sam update Doom already?
It’s true, Painkiller’s concepts aren’t exactly new. In fact, Serious Sam seems to do the “1000 harpies spawn – defend yourself” aspect much better – though to be fair the version of Painkiller we’re playing is a pre-alpha that’s not even close to release.
Actually, it’s unfair to accuse Painkiller of spawning enemies in out of the blue. They’re always there, but like Serious Sam, you don’t encounter all of them at once. Rather, you go through sections of a level and proceed to the next part when you’ve cleared out the current one or finished your objective.
I could elaborate on the singleplayer levels, describe the cemetery and village in detail, but, really, after playing multiplayer I just can’t bring myself to talk about it. I will say, however, that the physics are put to wonderfully entertaining use – body parts fly around most realistically, and there is a certain
charm in firing the giant stake gun at a ghoul and impaling him against a wall.
True, I could also mention the almost Contra-like multi-stage boss levels, with a new challenge at every step. Take the one in the alpha – you’re on top of some sort of tower and this gargantuan demon is flying back and forth across it, taking swipes at you. Easy enough. Then he lands and the top level of the tower collapses, forcing both of you inside to fight it out in close combat.
Bring him down to 0 health and he’s dead, right? No, he just punches through to the next level of the tower. Oh, so that’s the gimmick right? You beat him 5 or 6 times like this and he’s done? Not quite. You get to the lowest level, kill him, and these damnable statues recharge him. Again. And again. Obviously, there’s something wrong – but they won’t go down when you shoot them. Oh – you have to shoot the statues while they’re recharging him. Hoo boy… given that you can take out two, maybe three at a time if you’re lucky, that means killing that demon a lot of times. Yeah, suddenly, this became very interesting.
Painkiller discussion thread