Painkiller: Battle out of Hell
Painkiller was one of 2004’s top shooters. It offered us vast levels, filled to the brim with mindless cannon fodder, that you could blow to smithereens using rapid-death-inducing weapons, each one enhanced with equally morbid secundary fire mode. Now the expansion Battle out of Hell offers us more of the same, nice, isn’t it?
Let’s start out with the “storyline” (well, if BOOH has an actual storyline, then Paris Hilton has an IQ of over 20…). After you shot Lucifer himself back to where he came from, Purgatory is once again threatened, by an extremely powerful foe, Alastor. That’s why Eve, the semi-naked babe from the original game, asks you to pick up your weapons again and end the threat once and for all.
To do this, you have the infamous arsenal from PK, rounded out by 2 new toys of death. As we’ve come to expect, the Stake Gun, the semi-automatic spearthrower, makes its reappearance and still gives you an immeasurable sadistic pleasure to use this weapon and impale your enemies. There’s even a new version of it, the Boltgun-Heater. In primary fire, this thing fires five mini-stakes (perfectly suited to turn your enemies into a pincushion), while the (less attractive) secundary fire mode fires small exploding pellets. Well, at least it’s effective when encountering large groups of scum (eeuhm, guess that means all the time). The other new weapon is the SMG-Flamethrower. The SMG fires short bursts of hot lead (not impressive, yet deadly), but the flamethrowers kicks ass beyond your imagination. Instant Kentucky Fried Chicken, ready in just 2 seconds flat. Those guys over at Dreamcatcher should open a restaurant.
Of course new monsters have been added to the mix like dangerous clowns, possessed nuns and “innocent” orphans that love to taste your flesh. A.I. is nowhere to be seen, but who actually wants smart opponents in a game like this? Unfortunately the concept is starting to be a bit dull, and I can honestly say that, after having played PK and BOOH, I don’t want to see anymore no-nonsense shooters, at least not in the following months.
The 10 new levels also offer more of the same, but the Orphanage, Loony Park and Leningrad are especially noteworthy. Although the Orphanage has a lot in common with PK’s Asylum level, it has a tense, nail-biting atmosphere. The music there is utterly superb and the background noises turn it into a very creepy place. Same for the Coney Island-like sounds in Loony Park. Although sound and music are plain good in most levels, they are taken up a notch in those two. My personal favourite, however, is Leningrad. You’ll encounter hordes of doomed Russian and German soldiers in a devastated cityscape, complete with tanks and mortar fire.
But BOOH truly shines in the visual department. Your enemies are engulfed in detail, all levels feature extensive dynamic lighting and to my surprise, it still plays very fluently with max detail on my midrange system. The wonderful Havok physics engine is also put to the test. The environments are full of destructible objects and stakegunning your opponents to walls is still an excellent way to test ragdoll models.
For those of you interested: Painkiller: Battle out of Hell also offers an enhanced multiplayer component (with CTF). I think fans of fast-paced online shooters will surely appreciate it, but I couldn’t enjoy it for more than an hour, because I prefer teambased MP-games. Well, at least BOOH’s MP is still better than Counter-Strike (but on the other hand, do worse games actually exist?), which is an added plus.
I’ll keep this one short. Enjoyed Painkiller? Then by all means, go and buy this expansion pack. Want to use your brains just a little more? Save your money or pick up Half-Life 2, The Chronicles of Riddick or Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault