Painkiller: Hell patrol, all guns blazing
Closing in with vengeance soaring high
Fifteen years on, let's make one thing very clear - Painkiller is nothing like Doom. Nothing is like Doom. Doom 2 isn't even like Doom. I see People Can Fly’s 2004 FPS Painkiller compared to id's magnum opus near-constantly and it's never held water. Doom is about discovery, exploration and white-knuckle seat-of-your-pants on-the-fly tactics. Painkiller is about running backward and holding the left mouse button. Ditto Serious Sam. I never want to see either game compared to Doom ever again. The pushback starts here. Fists in the air, friends, it's time to go to war against insulting and lazy pigeonholing of (Look, just get on with it. - Ed) Erm, alright. It's not like Doom though.
As you'd expect from a game named after a Judas Priest album, Painkiller is metal. You run around a series of fairly generic dark, twisted environments - graveyards, tombs, haunted orphanages and the like - and pump hot lead into literally thousands of enemies. The gameplay flow is basically enter room > kill a million skellingtons > exit room. There's no complexity whatsoever, just rampant murder. And that isn't old-school. Classic shooters like Doom weren't defined by repetitive carnage, they were characterised by key hunts, false walls and (You're doing it again. - Ed) Sorry. Ahem. Painkiller is very much stripped back, though there is incentive to explore with extremely well-hidden secret areas found by exploiting your momentum and the level layouts. By and large, however, it's all about monster genocide.
Thankfully the shooting feels good. It's satisfying to blow apart the hordes of demonic entities as they really do put up very little resistance. You'll spend the vast majority of your time kiting them around the levels and wiping them out with the myriad bizarre weapons at your disposal. There's the titular Painkiller, a set of spinning blades you can use as a close-quarters face-shredder or launch the buzzsaw out before recalling it like the world's most bloodthirsty yo-yo. There's also a Stake Gun that - yes - fires wooden stakes. This is amazing because you can pin enemies to the wall with them, causing them to ragdoll as they dangle, lifeless, from their final resting place. It also shoots grenades, because why not. There's a Shotgun that also shoots ice, so you can freeze a group of enemies with the secondary fire then shatter them with both barrels. It's fun and ghoulishly cathartic.
And that's Painkiller, really. It's a nonsensical, downright laughable load of absolute nonsense that wears out its welcome surprisingly quickly, but it's good craic if you play it a level or two at a time. Unlike Doom, which is peerless throughout and has yet to feel dated even a quarter-century la(Right, that’s enough. Snip! - Ed)