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Review by: Jim Richmond
Published: April 29, 2004
World War II has been done to death in video games primarily because the Nazi hordes make great socially acceptable target practice. You don’t get too many user complaints about driving back the Fuhrer and his genocidal army. Likewise, the legions of hell make good trophies to mount on the wall of the den. Using the latter formula, developer People Can Fly has put together Painkiller, a new offering that pits you against Lucifer’s army.
In Painkiller, you play Daniel Garner, a man who, along with his wife, Catherine, was killed in a car accident. Catherine was accepted directly into Heaven when she died, but Daniel is trapped in a state of limbo awaiting purification for an unknown sin. Surviving in the nowhere between Heaven and Hell makes Daniel a formidable warrior, and because of this, he’s approached by Sammael, an emissary from Above, with a choice: take on the armies of Lucifer before they mount an attack against Heaven and receive purification or leave limbo with a one way ticket to Hell. So, with Catherine’s picture in his mind, Daniel picks up the best weapons he can find and sets out to drive back Satan.
On his way to purification, Daniel has to overcome 26 different enemy types along with four of Lucifer’s fiercest generals. The work-a-day baddies are formidable, and most pack a variety of punches, some from a distance and others when you’re up close and getting personal. For instance, the Lokhi creature springs over long distances to jump on you, it can summon hordes of spiders to attack and it can regenerate lost health by praying. Likewise, Skeleton Soldiers fire their guns from a distance and try to gib you up close with bayonets. Some evil beasties can even use other units to fight for them. Maso Commandos not only have flamethrowers and grenade launchers but also can light Skeleton Soldiers on fire, increasing the soldiers’ speed and hit points.
Provided you make it through the legions of damned soldiers, Lucifer’s generals await you at the end of each of the game’s chapters. These monolithic monstrosities are ticked off because you’ve made it as far as their lairs, and they have their own tactics to put an end to your crusade. Your first encounter is with the Necrogiant, and he’ll give you an idea of the uphill battle you face. His primary approach is to try to crush you while sending legions of undead soldiers toward your position. If that fails, he’ll begin to summon spikes from the ground where you stand and finally use a whirlwind to pull you into the air and slam your body back to the ground. If you live through it all, you get to look forward to taking on Lucifer himself.
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