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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Shooter

 

Publisher

Dreamcatcher

 

Developer

People Can Fly

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

Q4 2004

 

 

- New weapon is a highlight

- Level design is creative

 

 

- Feels like it should and could have been part of the original

- Not enough new narrative sequences

- Boss levels aren't as interesting

- Some of the action isn't paced evenly

 

 

Review: Painkiller (PC)

Review: Half-Life 2 (PC)

Review: Far Cry (PC)

Review: Doom 3 (PC)

 

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Painkiller: Battle Out of Hell

Score: 7.0 / 10

 

I loved Painkiller. To me after having played through the current crop of next generation FPS shooters, I was left feeling like the games that should have been fantastic weren't as good as the games that we all thought would be playing second fiddle. I liked Painkiller better than Doom 3 and I like Farcry more than I liked Half Life 2. With Painkiller the actions looks and feels like a high tech Serious Sam. This being said, Battle Out of Hell, might not offer quite enough to one of my favorites from last year. However, it is good enough to be almost be required by owners of the original game.

 

battle out of hell review          battle out of hell review

 

The expansion pack picks up where the original left, with the main character, Daniel having to, well, battle out of hell. Something I liked about the original that is somewhat lacking in the expansion pack are the narrative sequences. In the expansion pack we basically get a short introduction and a quick ending sketch that leaves the game open for another follow-up. This leaves the levels in between feeling disjointed and merely like a series of interesting tech demos with some cool gameplay thrown in for good measure. The original didn't excel in telling a story either, but I had hoped for an expansion on the story as well, rather than just a dump of new content.

 

However the new levels that have been presented really are quite something. I loved the originalís level design and the themes that each area of purgatory displayed. Battle Out of Hell takes the themes to the next level with some excellent, original level design. Consistent with the theme of each level, the enemies in each also fit in with what you would expect. From a twisted orphanage with children trying to kill you, to Leningrad circa WWII complete with tanks, to a Dark Carnival complete with killer clowns, each level has some very unique textures and enemies. Something that was new that was used on a couple of occasions was the introduction of cart type areas. Daniel will get into a cart, in a mine shaft or on a roller coaster, and can't move when in the cart. He will be taken through areas 

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strewn with enemies and it will be your job to kill (or not kill) as many as possible.) . The only problem that I found with the enemies and level design is that towards the end of the game, some the design elements are repeated as are the enemies. It seems as if maybe there wasn't enough time in the development cycle to create even more unique characters, but what is there is already more inventive than what most games offer anyway.

 

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This time around we have a couple of new weapons. One is like the stake gun/grenade launcher, but on steroids; they call it the Boltgun/Heater. Now, it comes with a scope, the stakes are replaced by metal spikes, they go farther so there is no need to calculate a lob, and it shoots 5 with every 1 pull of the trigger. The secondary fire is like the grenade launcher with the stake gun, but this time it fires 10 explosives. The other new weapon is the Submachine Gun/Flamethrower. It is exactly as what its name says and isn't nearly as interesting as the Boltgun.

 

battle out of hell review          battle out of hell review

 

The goals on each level are back, and this time they are more difficult to complete. Each level has a specific goal, and if you successfully complete it, you will be awarded with optional power-ups. After each level, you are taken to a map, or interface screen where you can choose to use any power-ups you may have for the next level. While the level goals are not that original, they do give an extra challenge to more experienced gamers and do add some replay value to the single player experience which I love. The outrageous boss levels are back too, complete with huge lumbering boss characters. As in the original, the boss levels have some sort of trick to defeating the boss, and this can prove frustrating when trying to figure out what to do. This does break up the pace somewhat and doesn't offer the fluid, seamless gameplay that the rest of the game demonstrates.

 

In terms of multiplayer improvements, BOOH offers a boost in network stability, and Capture the Flag and Last One Standing are now offered. Graphics are also now improved with more effects to tax those new video cards. Overall, for an expansion pack, you get about expansion pack quality. It's not overwhelming in what it offers in addition to what the original game offers already, but it does have enough interesting points to make it worthwhile for fans of the original.

 

- Mark Leung

(January 13, 2005)

 

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