The big surprise of the week for me wasn’t Will Wright “leaving” EA or the surfacing of Assassin’s Creed 2. No, it was the announcement of a new Painkiller game. Though it isn’t being made by the original game’s developer People Can Fly (who are now owned by Epic Games), it’s hard to imagine that a team (albeit one with no trackrecord to speak of ) using the same tech and the same gameplay framework could go wrong. Add co-op to the mix, and I’m on board.
Here in this video is an invaluable look at what id Software was like in 1993. Doom development was wrapping up with sound creation and performance optimization. It’s surreal to watch this video with the knowledge of what the shotgun will really sound like while watching John Romero play with placeholder sounds from Wolf 3D SNES. They had no idea yet.
Painkiller is a first-person shooter created by Polish developer People Can Fly (now a subsidiary of Epic Games), and released in 2004. In November of that same year, the Painkiller story continued when an expansion titled Battle Out of Hell was released; it would later be bundled and sold with the original game as Painkiller Gold Edition and Painkiller Black Edition.
Painkiller has all the qualities one would expect in a worthy successor to games like Doom and Quake: a constant sense of urgency driving the player forward; a powerful and satisfying arsenal including such mainstays as the shotgun and chain gun, as well as such exotic, proprietary creations as the Electrodriver and (my personal favorite) the Painkiller itself. With this adherence to tradition in mind, it’s only natural that Hell (and its denizens) would play a part in Painkiller’s narrative. The game opens with a cut scene showing the game’s protagonist, Daniel Garner, driving with his wife to her birthday dinner. It’s raining heavily, Daniel looks away for a moment, and they’re killed in a head-on collision. Although his wife was admitted to Heaven, Daniel has been relegated to Purgatory. After spending some time there, he is approached by a messenger and is given an opportunity for atonement, an opportunity to reunite with his wife. Here, the objective of the game is revealed: kill the four generals of Lucifer’s army, and on the way, “destroy everything that moves.”
Painkiller also has a strong multiplayer component that, for a while, was a pretty big deal in the competitive scene. Its popularity waned, however, so while sparsely populated servers can still be found, it can’t be counted on. Regardless, the singleplayer campaigns of Painkiller and its expansion are worth the $9.99 to Steam or Good Old Games.