Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Heaven's Hitman 1

Mr Lazybones in full effect this week, flashing back with you this time with a game review written and forgotten about lo these six years and recalled only this morning whilst waxing nostalgic for... how you say? Entertainment with substance. Painkiller fits the bill. Not yet a believer? Read on...

Note that this is the first half of the review, which apparently is too damn humongous for a single post. The second half is below the jump.

Review by wngl

"Painkiller makes history"

Allow me to start by saying that Painkiller offers what is possibly the sweetest combat tool in the history of first person shooters. It is something out a baroque phantasy, anachronistic and deadly. Whirling talons can be used in melee or at range, with an accompanying coherent beam that fries anything crossing it. To look at it the weapon appears as if it were forged in some 13th century alchemists' lab; the laser lends it a touch of some new Dark Age waiting in the future, when aspects of both past and future will combine.

Painkiller the game is represented by this weapon, also called painkiller. It's a good metaphor for the game as a whole. There is an undeniable sense of temporal collision, since traversing the many incredible realms of the game will take you through many epochs of human history, usually at the same time.

Each successive level of Painkiller builds upon the last in intensity and pleasure. It gratifies on many different levels, not only as a first person shooter. Obvious care has been given to the look and feel of the game, so much so that the result is one of the best aesthetic experiences I've had from a computer screen. The challenges of overcoming hordes of enemies are almost secondary to the visual splendor of the imagery. It's easy to believe that the designers are aware of this fact. There are many opportunities both during and at the conclusion of levels to explore; with secret areas and holy relics only accessible when a level is done, the player is forced to do just that.

The whole aspect of Painkiller tantalises as it presents a state of reality where history has accrued and folded over itself. Consequently you have a tempest of anachronisms as WWI-era infantry mingle with sadistic soldiers that look straight out of William S Burroughs' dystopian novel, The Wild Boys. A palace from the Golden Age of Islam resides next to a Medieval cathedral, the stained glass of which is decorated not with saints but Pan and Astaroth. Cold War nuclear terror rises up to cast a shadow over the Reichstag battleship Bismarck. Kabuki-masked samurai commit seppuku at the heart of a chemical plant. The mash of these elements and many more lend unprecedented thrills.

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