Painkiller: Battle out of Hell

Review

posted 1/14/2005 by Charles Husemann
other articles by Charles Husemann
One Page Platforms: PC
Painkiller was one of my early year favorites. It packed non-stop, wall to wall action in a shiny package for all FPS gamers to enjoy. It wasn’t perfect (the multiplayer left a lot to be desired) but if you were looking for a great fast-twitch shooter, it delivered in spades. Since the original came out, gamers have had a chance to play other next generation FPS games like Far Cry, Doom 3, and Half-Life 2. All of these upped the FPS bar and forced the developers at People Can Fly to upgrade their game engine along with providing new multiplayer and single player content.

Battle out of Hell picks up right up where the original game left off. The character you control, Daniel Garner, has defeated Lucifer but must now deal with Alistar, the demon that filled the power vacuum created by Daniel when he offed the prince of lies. If you liked the cheesy cut-scenes from the first game, you’ll be happy to know that there are more of them in the expansion pack. They’re funny in a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 way and they advance what little plot there is in the game.

The new graphical tweaks are evident from the get go as you start off at the base of hill surrounded by water. The new water effects are excellent and almost at the level of Half-Life 2. It was a bit tough to take in all of the new graphical tweaks as you are instantly attacked and it’s hard to take in the sights when there are creatures trying to separate your head from you shoulders. During the time between fights, I did notice a lot of cool new dynamic lighting effects and various tweaks to the character models. This is an area where the original game shined and once again the developers have delivered a lot of kick-ass baddies for you to terminate. You get to waste everything from psychotic nurses to crazy clowns. Hell, the first level is disturbing in and of itself as you have to lay waste to a haunted orphanage. It is a little weird to turn a shotgun on a group of young orphans but after they stab you a few times you’ll quickly lose that inhibition.

Another thing you’ll notice is that the difficulty has been notched up a bit. Usually, the first level or two of a game will ease you into the game but Battle out of Hell tosses you right into the fire. I got my ass handed to me more times than I would care to admit on the first level and subsequent levels are just as hard. Keep in mind that this was just on the medium difficulty level. Thankfully, load times aren’t too long as there are a few areas where you’ll be reloading your saved games more than once or twice.

Level design in the expansion pack has also been turned up a notch. The orphanage level that starts the game is excellent and one of the creepiest levels in a game that I’ve played recently. The second level amusement park is also pretty cool featuring some bizarre twists on traditional amusement park rides (the merry-go-round with electric chairs is a nice touch). There are some more traditional levels in the game with deserted cities and warehouses but there are a few great levels scattered throughout the game.
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