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'Painkiller: Hell Wars' Preview (Xbox)

Submitted by thankeeka on January 26, 2006 - 8:09am.

Death isn't so bad for our hero, because at least he got a new job from the whole ordeal.

Painkiller: Hell Wars is the console brethren to the hit PC first person shooter, in which you played as a man who had just recently died, and then found himself being used as a pawn to fight the war between Heaven and Hell. By what I know, this game still follows the same story, and the same non-stop action and fighting from the PC game is in full effect here.

Before we get into the specific levels of the demo, lets talk a bit about the mechanics and the weapons at your disposal. The game essentially plays like a hybrid of the Doom franchise and the Serious Sam franchise. As you run about these levels, you'll encounter horde after horde of evil minions for you to randomly slaughter, just like how you'd experience wave after wave of enemies in Serious Sam. In an obvious nod to Doom, these minions are likely to pop out from any corner, cubby, or even just appear out of thin air just mere inches in front of your face; the enemies typically appear just after you cross some magical booby trap that locks you in the confines with these creatures, and you're only able to move forward once you kill every enemy, because otherwise the doors won't open for you. Now, the "kill every enemy before you can move on" mentality should be quite ancient by now, but alas Painkiller uses it over and over, which wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, except sometimes it is extremely difficult to find that final monster hidden away somewhere, because your little compass isn't exactly the most accurate tool.

As you move through the levels, you'll naturally slaughter any enemy you can get your hands on. After an enemy dies, you can collect their essence to replenish some health. Also, by killing enemies, you'll build up a rage like meter, which when filled, allows you to go in a bullet time frenzy killing fest in which you move super fast, have an ability to see every enemy clearly by having them appear bright red over a whitish background, and then kill every enemy with one shot. The game also has ammo and armor positioned throughout the locales, and thankfully so since you'll need it dearly.

I wish I knew more about the weapons, because I've heard that there are only five weapons, but that they can somehow can be used differently so that there are more than five weapons. I'm not to sure what that means, but I pretty much understand the weapons I was given to play with. The weapons are pretty much your normal death dealing weapons seen in a FPS, including the shotgun (though it doesn't look like your typical Evil Dead shotgun), a rocket launcher, a stake shooting gun (Buffy would be so proud), and a mythical buzz saw weapon type thing (yeah, I don't understand it exactly either). I usually found myself using the shotgun, if only because its constant fire rate meant a lot of death dealing in little to no time. The rocket launcher was fun to use, as was the stake weapon, if only because it made me think of Buffy slaying vampires every time I used it. The one weapon I didn't like, however, was the buzz saw weapon. Now, I understand that it works like a chainsaw, and it was easy to use by just running into people, but I didn't get the secondary feature; it shoots this orange light out, and my weapon would go missing, but I never seemed to do any damage. I don't know what it was for. I also had problems actually shooting things, because it seemed the weapons had to be aimed exactly at a creature and you weren't given any leeway for being close; I'd have no problem if this was just the case for the tiny stakes, but I thought shotguns had a larger radius and thus why they are used so often.

The first level to play around in is an old, medieval looking village you might see in any old Dracula or Frankenstein movie. The enemies here consists of only zombies (either standing or crawling on the ground) who can throw poisonous bodily organs at you or other such tools as scythes, and then eventually a satanic looking priest with a head that looks like the bones of a steer mixed with the antlers of a buck. The enemies (as I already stated) were quite hard to see at some moments, because the level is so dark and they generally have the same color palette as the ground and walls of the environment; I often had to wait and get hit by something before I could find where it was. The Town level does a great job at showing you how many enemies you could be fighting at once, but it also shows you some of the potential pitfalls as well. I don't know if it is because of all the enemies onscreen or the physics at work, but once I started killing enemy after enemy or got one to close to my screen, the game sometimes suffered from some truly horrible slowdown before it caught back up.

The Town level also uses the Havok 2.0 physics engine well, as enemies will go flying around after you explode a barrel, and other objects will react accordingly to anything that hits them. The music is also fitting for this specific level, as it sounds like the soundtrack that would play with a normal horror movie set in this same location.

The Prison level

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