Painkiller: Resurrection Review

Painkiller: Resurrection is a buggy trip into hell.

Every loading screen in Painkiller: Resurrection is emblazoned with the tagline "Homegrown: fan_made_product." And boy, they are not kidding around. Although this slogan actually refers to the name of the developer responsible for this mess, it really just rubs in the amateurish and awful quality of this way-late-to-the-party sequel to the 2004 shooter. Confusing levels, idiotic enemies, loads of bugs, and missing modes of play will make you drop your mouse to reach for the ibuprofen.

Heavy-metal monsters so sinister that you can almost hear Bruce Dickinson howling in the background.
Heavy-metal monsters so sinister that you can almost hear Bruce Dickinson howling in the background.

First, there is no way that Painkiller: Resurrection is ready to be foisted onto an unsuspecting public. The game as released to Steam is extremely buggy. Hard lockups requiring system restarts, constant crashes during multiplayer, objects getting stuck on you, hang-ups during already-long level loads, enemies that spawn in right on top of you, and hyperactive rag doll animations are just some of the many, many flaws that you can find here. And if you're considering dropping in to check out the cooperative mode of play, which would be sort of a Holy Grail to Painkiller fans because the original strangely didn't include the option, forget about it. Despite what the developer and publisher have promised, co-op isn't in the game out of the box. They have issued a workaround on the official forums, but that involves manually moving around map files and hosting a dedicated deathmatch server. Not only is such a manual workaround unacceptable, but it doesn’t result in the true co-operative experience promised. More pledges are being made in the official online forums about cleaning up all the bugs and adding proper co-op support in the future, but it's obvious that you're paying for a work in progress by buying the game at launch.

Even if you don't care about co-op and manage to get everything to work properly, there isn't much here of interest. The thin storyline is something of a reworking of the original story, with you playing as an assassin who winds up in purgatory after losing his life attempting to save innocents from a car bomb that he set. You think you're going to hell, but you actually wind up in an eerie middle ground populated by lost souls that have apparently morphed into weirdo monsters. The logic behind all of this is a little fuzzy, though, unless you can figure out why murdering thousands of creatures should get you a ticket to the pearly gates. Anyhow, as in the original Painkiller and its expansion, the goal here is simply to go from point A to point B in every level, killing everything that gets in your way. Action is simple and fast paced, with you using mostly standard shooter weapons to gun down hordes of skull-faced ghouls, doughy monsters, cowled grim reapers, undead Saxons with giant swords, and other assorted freaks that look like rejects from Iron Maiden album covers. Generic hair metal guitars sometimes wail in the background during battles, too, and the protagonist utters moronic comments like, "Die in pain!" repeatedly during gunfights, so the rawk attitude is entirely intentional.

Levels have an eerie atmosphere, but their layout and the frequent lockups are far scarier than any ruined cemeteries.
Levels have an eerie atmosphere, but their layout and the frequent lockups are far scarier than any ruined cemeteries.

Not that there's anything wrong with all that; dumb shooters can be great. But Painkiller: Resurrection is just too dumb in too many ways. Level design in the six-mission campaign is extremely confusing. While the settings look sufficiently spooky in an old-school way (you can't escape the fact that the game engine is well over five years old, and wasn't cutting edge even back then), complete with ruined churches, rainy cemeteries, dank dungeons, and the like, the layouts are seriously misleading. There is little rhyme or reason to any of the level design. Maps are all just massive areas that lack any sort of structure needed to push you along to battles and end goals. So you wind up getting lost constantly and forced to hunt around for ages trying to find a fight you might have missed. Or you end up looking for slender cracks in walls leading to hidden chambers, and so on. This adds a ton of unnecessary frustration to what is otherwise a run-and-gun shooter. You just shouldn't be getting stuck in this type of game. And speaking of stupid, enemies are totally brain-dead, with virtually no awareness of objects, terrain, or level architecture. They appear to have been programmed to come straight at you, which isn't always possible given such complications as corners, shrubs, tombstones, and the like. So the creatures wind up getting stuck and pump their legs running in place until you mercifully end their struggles. It's not so much that you're fighting monsters trapped in purgatory as it is that you're fighting monsters trapped on the Stairmaster of the Damned.

Painkiller is one franchise that appears to be better off dead. While the original game is still a treat for old-school shooter fans who won't let go of DOOM, all of the expansions and stand-alone add-ons have been pretty much atrocious. Let's hope that Painkiller: Resurrection is the last nail in the coffin.

The Good

  • Spooky levels play a little like Halloween funhouses
  • Creepy monsters and heavy-metal attitude

The Bad

  • Extremely unstable and packed with bugs
  • No co-op mode, despite it being a promised feature
  • Confusing level design
  • Idiotic enemies

About the Author

Painkiller: Resurrection

First Released Oct 27, 2009
  • PC

Painkiller: Resurrection features classic-style FPS levels and enormous, explorable areas providing varied gameplay.


Average Rating

304 Rating(s)

Content is generally suitable for ages 17 and up. May contain intense violence, blood and gore, sexual content and/or strong language.