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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Shoooter

 

Publisher

Dreamcatcher

 

Developer

People Can Fly

 

ESRB

M (Mature)

 

Released

July 2006

 

 

- Engagingly hellacious FPS action

- Big boss battles feature colossally huge bosses - 20 creepy levels to play through

 

 

- Flat and dull graphical performance

- Most enemies donít present too much of a tough challenge, even when they attack in waves

 

 

Review: Painkiller (PC)

Review: Battlefield 2: Modern Combat (XB)

Review: Call of Cthulhu: Dark Corners of the Earth (XB)

Review: Doom 3 (XB)

 

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Painkiller: Hell Wars

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

It was a dark and stormy night Ö and you, as lead character Daniel Garner in the Xbox title Painkiller: Hell Wars, still unwisely decided to take your wife Catherine out for a late-evening drive in your fast-driving muscle car, with predictable results: you crash in the torrential rainstorm, and now, both yourself and your wife are dead in the twisted wreck. While your beloved wife is enjoying her eternity in a glorious heavenly paradise, itís to hell (well, not quite) in a handbasket for Daniel.

 

painkiller hell wars          painkiller hell wars

As the game begins, itís 30 years later, and youíve been stuck in purgatory all this time Ė not quite hell but certainly closer to the pits of fiery damnation than to the pearly gates of heaven. Youíve been selected by heavenly messenger Sammael to undertake a misson, well, from God: defeat the four generals of Lucifer, who are planning a coup d'etat against the Lord in a brutal unholy war. If youíre successful, youíll get to leave purgatory and return to your wifeís side in heaven, a prize thatís been mysteriously denied to you up until now. Lose, and youíll be tossed into hellfire forever.

 

While the game certainly doesnít possess the most well-crafted tale as its background, itís not the story that will entice gamers to play, and eventually enjoy the hell out of, the first-person shooter Painkiller: Hell Wars. This PC title thatís 

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ported to the Xbox isnít the best looking either, but you wonít find many Xbox FPS games with as much good-old bloody shooting action from start to finish in downright creepy locales with some of the biggest bosses youíll find this side of Shadow of Colossus. And Painkiller: Hell Wars also provides a quality online offering that will keep gamers playing after they foray through the single-player hot-and-heavy adventure.

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Three titles came to mind when playing Painkiller: Hell Wars. Two, Quake and Hexen, are old-school FPS games that, while arenít even in the same eternal state when it comes to Painkiller: Hell Warsí graphics, have the same medieval, earthen-colored starkness and dark and dreadful creepy corners as their environmental aura as does Painkiller: Hell Wars. Another game, Serious Sam, has the same style of killing-wave-after-wave-of-enemies gameplay that youíll encounter amongst the hellish denizens of Lucifer in Painkiller: Hell Wars.

 

Youíll get to disperse them with a handful of the usual weapons, including a shotgun and rocket launcher. But there are also a few unique brands of weaponry, including your basic weapon, the painkiller, which uses a slice-and-dice rotating blade apparatus to dispense those unlucky enough to feel its steel returned into the eternal flames.

 

Each creature you kill releases a soul. Collect 33 souls, and Garner briefly transforms into a powerful demon of destruction himself that pounds his way through any in his path, yet another way to send those pesky enemies back to the hell they came from.

 

painkiller hell wars          painkiller hell wars

 

There are 20 levels for you to battle through, with dozens of species of hell creatures that youíll encounter, including Luciferís four generals. Painkiller: Hell Wars features the Big Boss Battle, as those four generals are humongous onscreen. Youíve got to work hard to take them down, much harder than the task of defeating most of the other minions throughout Painkiller: Hell Wars, even in the engrossingly action-packed wave-after-wave attacks a la Serious Sam that youíll have to overcome to advance.

 

Although itís not ridiculously difficult to defeat any undead hellspawn youíll fight on the lower difficulty levels, Painkiller: Hell Wars has a generously ample save system so you wonít have to backtrack too much if you undertake the harder difficulty settings. Thereís also a gameplay gimmick of using rare power-up Black Tarot Cards that youíll find in the game (in off-the-beaten-track locales), but it proves rather unnecessary and I didnít even use the cards I found while playing and still was able to continue rather stress-free.

 

Graphically, the game isnít too impressive, using flat and dull colors that are further muddied by the dark nature of the gameís many environments. Still, those environments are suitably creepy and hellishly spooky, with frightening things-that-go-bump-in-the-night fiends hiding everywhere.

 

Once youíve tackled and defeated the forces of Lucifer in the single-player mode, jump into the fires of Xbox Live. Thereís plenty of online multiplayer gameplay to battle through, with seven different modes, including the typical Deathmatch, Capture the Flag, Free-For-All and Last Man Standing.

 

With forebodingly scary levels, huge end bosses and plenty of enjoyably hellacious, gory FPS gameplay, Painkiller: Hell Wars has enough quality features to blaze a fiery path into the Xbox library of shooter aficionados as it is one of the most devilishly pleasurable FPS titles on the Xbox.

 

- Lee Cieniawa

lcieniawa@armchairempire.com

(October 24, 2006)

 

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