Summary: Painkiller: Redemption is a standalone add-on to a renowned PC first-person shooter franchise and costs only $5. Sounds good for some old-school action, but is there a catch? Read the review to find out!
Enter Painkiller: Redemption, the latest entry in the franchise that started out as a community mod before gaining support from publisher DreamCatcher. They funded and provided technical help to the Eggtooth Team, allowing them to release this as a standalone downloadable game. It features six levels and over 6,000 enemies to blast your way through, as well as slightly improved graphics and a new heavy metal soundtrack. There seems to be some kind of background story continuation involving familiar characters from past Painkiller titles, but who cares about that? All that really matters is the action, and youíre thrown into the thick of it right away. Thereís no tutorial or warm-up period, not even any time to explore; as soon as you load it up, get ready to fight.
You play the six levels alternating between the human and half-demon characters, using their unique arsenals of five weapons that are actually mostly the same except for their appearance: the namesake artifact that shreds enemies in melee and serves as a back-up ranged weapon, a shotgun that can also freeze (or petrify) enemies, a rocket launcher with attached machinegun, a stake launcher (or crossbow) that can pin enemies to the wall and also lobs grenades, as well as a shuriken-shooter that also projects tiny lightning bolts (or a demon head with a fricken laser beam). Ammunition is scattered about each area, but in somewhat limited quantities, so donít be wasteful. This fact also ensures you use every one of the weapons available, and youíll quickly learn how to do so in the most efficient way.
Enemies spawn in waves throughout each stage and attack from all sides, so surviving is a simple matter of not allowing yourself to be surrounded and overwhelmed. This is where one of the franchiseís trademarks comes in: the bunny hop. Unlike other classic FPS games that require at least some degree of skill or technique to pull it off, Painkiller will let you bounce around and move much faster than you can run just by tapping the spacebar. It is possible to air strafe, as well, which allows you to move faster still and is a requirement for reaching some of the hidden areas or tactically valuable positions, i.e. places where the monsters canít get to you. Some might call that cheating, but there are a lot of times when youíll want the extra breathing room but arenít close enough to being able to activate Demon Mode.
If youíre looking for any further depth to the experience, you wonít find any. Where Redemption really falls short, though, is in the level design; that is, they didnít do any. All of the maps in this game were borrowed from previous Painkiller titlesí multiplayer modes. As a result, every battle takes place in one cordoned-off area after another, and not many of them share the same spacious design I remember being used by People Can Fly. It becomes even more cramped in the tiny hallways connecting these arenas, and the game has a terrible habit of trapping you inside them to fight in very close-quarters. All enemies were ripped from other games, too, and though they vary somewhat in size or color, it still gets dull blasting hundreds of each type.