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Friday, March 11, 2011

Review: Painkiller: Purgatory HD (iPad)

Now this is good fun. Chillingo, and developer MachineWorks’ iPad adaptation of the Painkiller formula sacrifices little in the transition from keyboard & mouse/ controller transition to virtual controls, and leaves us with a game that successfully channels Doom or Quake into an action-heavy gothic masterpiece. 

Splatter

There’s nothing intelligent about Painkiller. It’s a by-the-numbers monster bash through confined corridors and claustrophobic rooms. As a result, there’s not a great deal of room for exploration, and while you’re going to be led through the nose in this game, literally being told which doors to walk though and where to go next, it’s not that you’ll mind.

See, you’ll be too busy shooting things. While the game only displays a handful of enemies on screen at once (presumably to maintain a smooth frame rate), they’ll appear in waves, with a new wave spawning out of the ground after you finish slaughtering the previous one. It’s a clever way to keep the kill count high without sacrificing performance, even if there is the odd occasion where you’ll feel bogged down in a protracted melee. 

Very ugly. Must die


The beasties you’ll be fighting are the kind of enemies you want to slaughter, too – undead, ugly monstrosities and demons, Painkiller’s Doom and Quake roots are evident, even today, and the way they explode in meaty bloody chunks like FPSers of old is visceral and retro-cool. The weapons you’ll be collecting through the game range from the powerful to the insane, by for our mind, the initial weapon you start with – the whirling blades melee ‘gun’ – is the most satisfying of the lot. While precise aiming can be somewhat difficult with the virtual buttons, the game features a generous auto aim to compensate.

The one and only concession that Painkiller makes to the modern era is an alternative fire option for those weapons, but otherwise you’ll be navigating the game with two virtual analogue sticks, and that’s it. No grenades, no jump button, no crouching behind scenery. Given virtual controls can get messy with too many ‘buttons’ to mess with, this is not a bad thing, though more modern FPSer fans might be a little lost, unable to do some of the basic things they’ve come to take for granted. 

This game is raw fun. Not complex, not deep, just... fun


Combined with the gothic setting and standard old school soundtrack, it’s hard to separate Painkiller from ID Software’s classics, but that’s not a bad thing at all. With no multiplayer, you won’t be playing Painkiller for any great length of time, but the achievements and stat tracking is compelling enough to enjoy a few runs through the game.

Heck, this game has lives. When was the last time that happened in a FPS?



Review: Painkiller: Purgatory HD (iPad)
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