Painkiller: Overdose Review


I really enjoyed the first two Painkiller games. Sure, at their core they were simple, mindless shooters, but the non-stop action, creative settings, imaginative enemies, and driving speed metal soundtrack all worked together to make them simply fun to play. For budget titles they sure delivered a lot of entertainment.

Because of my positive experience with those games, I was looking forward to jumping into Painkiller: Overdose and resuming my mindless blasting fun. Overdose is a full price release after all, so it must be Painkiller and a lot more, right? Wrong. Unfortunately a new developer and a newly doubled price tag are not the only things that separate Overdose from its predecessors - it's just not as much fun.

Rather than playing as a recently deceased human tearing apart purgatory and hell in a search for your wife, you are now a half angel, half demon monstrosity named Belial out for a little revenge because no one could accept you for who you are. The stoic man on a mission has been replaced with a wise-cracking demon whose unholy arsenal is pretty much the same as the old conventional one, but with new skins. The hard-driving metal track has also been jettisoned in favor of orchestral and techno themes and the game simply loses something in the transition.

Gameplay follows the same model at least. You enter an area, the entrance is sealed, and you're left to fend off a large attack wave of vile creatures. Survive long enough to kill them all and the exit is opened, your health is restored, and you enter the next area to begin the cycle anew. If you're killed then it's time for a snack break as the game takes an extremely long time to reload the previous checkpoint before giving you another go at it from the beginning. I'm not kidding about the load times; on a couple of occasions I was certain that the computer had frozen only to see the loading bar finally move a touch closer to the end. Unfortunately you'll die quite a bit in the game's latter stages simply because the game is far too stingy when it comes to doling out the ammo, and so you should prepare yourself to spend a quarter of your playing time staring at load screens.

In Painkiller, part of the fun of progressing through the game was simply to see what bizarre concept served as the setting for the next level. In Overdose you're only treated to standard and clichéd settings such as a burning Rome, Ancient Egypt, and a Medieval Japanese ninja village. The enemies are also more of your standard varieties such as skeletons, demons, and the aforementioned ninjas. The loss of the imaginative settings and enemies takes a big toll on Overdose. You don't notice the repetitive gameplay as much if you're really enjoying the scenery; otherwise it begins to get on your nerves to the point where you'll feel you'll lose it if you have to fight off one more attacking skeleton.

The game includes a multiplayer mode, but when you can spend your online time playing Call of Duty 4, Unreal Tournament 3, and Quake Wars, it's hard to make room for small-scale battles that depend more on luck than anything else. Apparently this sentiment is shared by most gamers. The most people I was ever able to find online at a time was two, and they were stubbornly sitting on different servers.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 60%. The Painkiller series has indeed overdosed, and should have been stopped after the first two games.