Painkiller: Battle out of Hell

Painkiller: Battle out of Hell

Written by Charles Husemann on 1/14/2005 for PC  

Painkiller was one of my early year favorites. It packed non-stop, wall to wall action in a shiny package for all FPS gamers to enjoy. It wasn’t perfect (the multiplayer left a lot to be desired) but if you were looking for a great fast-twitch shooter, it delivered in spades. Since the original came out, gamers have had a chance to play other next generation FPS games like Far Cry, Doom 3, and Half-Life 2. All of these upped the FPS bar and forced the developers at People Can Fly to upgrade their game engine along with providing new multiplayer and single player content.

Battle out of Hell picks up right up where the original game left off. The character you control, Daniel Garner, has defeated Lucifer but must now deal with Alistar, the demon that filled the power vacuum created by Daniel when he offed the prince of lies. If you liked the cheesy cut-scenes from the first game, you’ll be happy to know that there are more of them in the expansion pack. They’re funny in a Mystery Science Theatre 3000 way and they advance what little plot there is in the game.

The new graphical tweaks are evident from the get go as you start off at the base of hill surrounded by water. The new water effects are excellent and almost at the level of Half-Life 2. It was a bit tough to take in all of the new graphical tweaks as you are instantly attacked and it’s hard to take in the sights when there are creatures trying to separate your head from you shoulders. During the time between fights, I did notice a lot of cool new dynamic lighting effects and various tweaks to the character models. This is an area where the original game shined and once again the developers have delivered a lot of kick-ass baddies for you to terminate. You get to waste everything from psychotic nurses to crazy clowns. Hell, the first level is disturbing in and of itself as you have to lay waste to a haunted orphanage. It is a little weird to turn a shotgun on a group of young orphans but after they stab you a few times you’ll quickly lose that inhibition.

Another thing you’ll notice is that the difficulty has been notched up a bit. Usually, the first level or two of a game will ease you into the game but Battle out of Hell tosses you right into the fire. I got my ass handed to me more times than I would care to admit on the first level and subsequent levels are just as hard. Keep in mind that this was just on the medium difficulty level. Thankfully, load times aren’t too long as there are a few areas where you’ll be reloading your saved games more than once or twice.

Level design in the expansion pack has also been turned up a notch. The orphanage level that starts the game is excellent and one of the creepiest levels in a game that I’ve played recently. The second level amusement park is also pretty cool featuring some bizarre twists on traditional amusement park rides (the merry-go-round with electric chairs is a nice touch). There are some more traditional levels in the game with deserted cities and warehouses but there are a few great levels scattered throughout the game.
The expansion pack also adds two new means of dealing death and destruction to the already eclectic weapons selection. The first is a multi-stake/sniper/multi-ball launcher. In the first mode, the weapon fires five stakes out in a “V” pattern. This mode also has a zoom mode which turns it into a semi-sniper weapon. The alternate fire launches a series of charged balls at enemies in front of you. It’s great for taking out large groups of enemies but you have to be careful as the balls can bounce off enemies and back at you (something I learned the hard way). The second new weapon is a burst machine gun/flame thrower combo. It’s a bit of a weird combo but it works. The flame thrower and flame effects are pretty cool and setting the various bad guys is actually kind of fun.

Battle out of Hell also adds two new multiplayer modes. Fans will finally get a CTF mode as well as a Last Man Standing mode. It’s not exactly Unreal Tournament 2004 but it’s a nice boost on top of the weak multiplayer support in the original game.

I really only have one main quibble with the game and it’s that the levels really don’t tie together. Yeah, I know it’s lame to look for a plot in a FPS game, but it felt kind of weird to go from one extreme to another. To go from a dead modern city to a WWII battlefield is a bit of a stretch no matter what the plot of the game is.

What else can I say? Battle out of Hell is a near perfect expansion pack. It gives gamers more levels, more bad guys, and more multiplayer content. What else can you ask for in an expansion pack? Not much.
People Can Fly and Dreamcatcher deliver everything you could want in an expansion pack and then some. If you loved the original, you’ll love this expansion pack

Rating: 8.6 Very Good

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Hi, my name is Charles Husemann and I've been gaming for longer than I care to admit. For me it's always been about competing and a burning off stress. It started off simply enough with Choplifter and Lode Runner on the Apple //e, then it was the curse of Tank and Yars Revenge on the 2600. The addiction subsided somewhat until I went to college where dramatic decreases in my GPA could be traced to the release of X:Com and Doom.   I have been a Microsoft Xbox MVP since 2009.
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