Someday, designers will figure out a way to make an original PC fighting game that can hold its own against the fighting hits on console-based systems. Until that day, however, we are stuck with the mediocrity of games such as Pray For Death.
Players go for a best-of-three victory using the normal punches, kicks, and special attacks, such as fireballs. Kind of like a poor man's version of the arcade fighter Killer Instinct, the game comes complete with huge combinations that don't take much skill to pull off, as well as combo breakers, which are used to escape combos. The concept of finishing moves that annihilate your opponent is lifted straight from the Mortal Kombat series. Needless to say, originality isn't one of Pray For Death's strong points.
The game looks pretty good. The rendered backgrounds are sharp and use light sourcing and shading. In Painkiller's background, moving from one side of the level to the other will make the character come out of the shadows, into a green light. The fighters, based on figures from history and legend, move fluidly, but the game's special moves aren't spectacular enough to close the deal and make the experience worthwhile. On top of this, the soundtrack gets a touch repetitive after a few plays, and turning it off just subjects you to the typical grunts, smacks, and screams that are standard issue in a fighting game.
I'm a huge fan of fighting games, and I really wanted to like Pray For Death. But there are just too many problems to make this game a winner. It lacks any true originality, and while there are only so many things you can add to make a fighting game seem fresh, this title never even attempts anything new, unless you count a few lame tournament modes. Add in some dull music and long, boring combos, and it equals a competent but uninspired game.