Another avant-garde supergroup, this one featuring John Zorn, Bill Laswell, and Mick Harris of Scorn/Napalm Death fame, joined occasionally by Justin Broadrick and Keiji Haino. All their albums have recently been rereleased in one four-CD set.

Any medicine that is used to relieve pain.

Some painkillers include:

Acetaminophen,
Paracetamol,
Ibuprofen
Morphine,
Aspirin.

Painkiller: Heaven's Got a Hitman

Outline
Painkiller, released for the PC in the first quarter of 2004, was created by Warsaw developer People Can Fly. In terms of genre and gameplay, it is a fairly standard first-person shooter(FPS) featuring excellent graphics and a fast-paced style of play. However, despite all it has going for it from a technological point of view, it lacks depth or an engaging storyline. It seems to be a throwback to games such as id software's Quake and Doom series where having much of a storyline takes a backseat to the action. The game itself is fairly mindless; an introductory sequence establishes where the game is set and there are more cutscenes in between chapters to give the game some semblance of a story. An X-Box version is in the making, and an expansion pack is planned.

Storyline
The easiest way to sum up the story behind the game is to use the game's tag line: "Heaven's got a Hitman." Essentially the protagonist Daniel Garner is killed in a car accident, instead of going to heaven or hell he find himself in purgatory without knowing why. He remains here for a substantial amount of time before eventually being approached by an angel who offers him the chance to atone for his past sins and thereby be granted entrance to heaven.

The armies of hell are preparing to wage war on heaven, and Garner must single-handedly defeat them before they are able to do so. His main targets are the four generals of Lucifer's army, killing them will cripple the upcoming offensive and thereby prevent it. Each chapter has you going after one of the generals in question and between chapters a cut scene has someone giving you to directions to where the next target will be, as well as generally elaborate what basic plot exists.

Gameplay
The game is pretty straightforwards; enter an area, shoot all the enemies in the area, move to the next area and shoot some more. Factor in a couple of things that you should try to collect (gold, treasure, and souls mainly) and that pretty adequately sums up the entire game. Just in case it wasn't already simple enough - a compass at the top of your screen will always point to the nearest enemy, or once all the enemies in the current area are dispatched, it will point to the entrance to the next area. Just to make sure you don't get too lost, the doorways to the next area and the previous area are closed until you finish the current one.

Despite the fact that each basic level is based upon the exact same formula described above, the developers have done an admirable job in ensuring that the game does not become monotonous or dull. In other FPSs this is achieved by having different objectives for different levels, Painkiller accomplishes this by having incredible differences in the scenery and enemies present in one level to the next. In one level for instance you will be fighting hordes of skeletons armed with melee weapons in a graveyard, and in the next you may be fighting large groups of ninjas and samurai armed with throwing stars and swords on a ice-covered suspension bridge. Different enemies have preferred methods of attacking you; some will just run in a straight line at you and try to hit you with (insert weapon here) while others may play dead until you come into range and then jump out at you.

There are also a number of power-ups, in the form of "Black Tarot Cards" that can be found and used in the game. By meeting certain parameters when you complete a level, meeting a certain time limit or collecting a certain number of gold coins for instance, you unlock the Black Tarot Card for that level. Each card has a different effect, for instance lowering damage taken or increasing speed. Before you start a level, you can choose to play these cards and their effects are in place until that mission is completed. To play a card also requires a certain amount of gold to have been collected in the game so far.

When you kill an enemy, their 'soul' remains - basically a swirly green thing left there after their body disappears. Collecting one of these will raise your health by one point. Collect a certain number of these and you will enter 'demon mode.' Your view will change to black and white with enemies displayed in red, the game will slow down, and you will be able to turn large groups of enemies into a splatter of blood and body parts with a single shot. 'Demon mode' only lasts a short time, but in it you can probably destroy all the enemies present in the area at the time.

Aside from the shotgun, the weapons in the game are relatively novel. A 'stake-gun' fires a foot long piece of wood at an enemy with excellent accuracy - extremely fun to use to nail enemies to walls and ceilings. A combination rocket-launcher and minigun is probably the best weapon in the game- primary fire is the rocket-launcher and secondary the minigun. There a ninja-star launcher which fires bolts of electricity as a secondary fire- a good idea, but the ninja-stars travel too slowly and the secondary fire burns through ammo too quickly. The other weapons are not particularly noteworthy.

There are several bosses and sub-bosses in the game, and often these are made more challenging because the formula for these levels is slightly different. While you still defeat them by shooting, one particular level has you shooting the weapon out of their hands before you can damage them themselves. Another boss level has you shooting things around the boss to make them explode and damage him, and yet another has you luring him onto a certain area to shoot something to fall on him. These levels are made more challenging by these slight variations present in them, and they contain the closest thing the game has to a puzzle.

Verdict
The graphics and sound effects in the game are very well done, the former substantially raising the bar by which future games will be judged. Sound effects are well done and the game makes good use of EAX. The music in the game is a kind of bland heavy-metal, and it doesn't really add much to the atmosphere of the game. The complex physics effects in the game are excellent and well implemented.

Some people may welcome the game for it's variety of excellently crafted levels and monsters. Others, like myself, may feel that the failings in storyline and lack of depth severely detract from what is otherwise an excellent game. The game is simply superb in almost every other aspect, but one can't help but think that it could have made a far better game if more time was invested into the storyline or inserting more variety into the gameplay rather than eye-candy.

Reviews

Minimum Requirements

Sources

  • http://www.firingsquad.com/games/painkiller_review/
  • http://pc.gamespy.com/pc/painkiller/507189p1.html
  • http://www.gamespot.com/pc/action/painkiller/review.html
  • http://www.avault.com/reviews/review_temp.asp?game=painkill&page=1

I swear I rescued her sandal from the pond. John says it was him. That bothered me. He was more lucid that night but I had remember doing it. I stayed quiet about it, until I heard a different account the next morning.

That next morning I'd had one of my first, and worst, hangovers. I remember sitting under the bus shelter in the blistering heat. I was sat, like in a valley of mountains, surrounded by camping bags. I had volunteered to watch the bags alone while the others sat in the bus station. My belief at the time was one of karma - that eventually this selfless act would be rewarded by the universe in some twist of events. I should have wished for my hangover to go away.

We were sixteen and on a camping trip by the beach. Some other kids had left us their crate of wine. Me and Rob had drunk most of it in that sand dune crater, bits of charcoal and glass littering the sand. We got pretty drunk; splashing the wine on the sand. That same inky red liquid leaked over the whole trip. It was in the dark evening sky, the cold vast sea, the pond that sandal dropped into. I remember peeking into that thick black liquid, fishing around for the sandal. Not just the bottom of the pond was out of sight.

She was pretty drunk too - I had kissed her. She was sitting in my lap and swinging her feet over the pond. But when I put my lips against hers for the second time she didn't want to. She shifted away, sweeping her feet across the surface. I saw her sandal roll off over her long thin feet and into the water. As it was falling I reached in and pulled it out from under the water. I slipped it back onto her foot. She didn't notice a thing. Or so I remembered. Shortly after we were separated. I wasn't supposed to have done that.

Not just my hangover was painful that next morning. I was in trouble for trying to kiss her. The cold shoulder received from the group was a refreshing contrast to my dry mouth and the penetrating sunshine. A little crack had been made in me. Sitting amongst the bags I was acutely aware of all my other flaws. I was sweaty, awkward, and I wasn't popular. I had to get it together. I had to work - for what I had done wrong.

I remembered the peace of earlier in the holiday. Some of us standing on the cliffs at the coast. It was windy and somewhat cold. The sun was going down. I watched the tufts of grass and the small flowers rocking in the wind. My thoughts were toward the future. What grown man would I be then - standing on those cliffs again. Who would be on my emotional map? I thought I knew the girl's character, but I wasn't clear on the specifics.


Surprisingly I wasn't too far off. Fast forward I was standing on a different set of cliffs near Newcastle. But I was with the same girl, and the same sandals. By some chance she had ended up going to the same University as me. We'd lost contact during sixth form, and had been in separate halls in the first year, but became close friends in the second year. We dated for a while. I always wondered if we had gone about it the right way. I didn't have much experience in that. We went mainly on dinner dates. I don't think we had a lot to talk about, but we certainly had a lot to say to each other.

For some reason she had mentioned her diary. It had stuck in my head. I had kept a diary too, until a similar time. When I asked her how she felt about it she laughed in embarrassment. She was glad of what she had become now. She said she could barely relate to the person in her diary. She had changed since then.

My diary I had destroyed all remains of. Not because I was ashamed of it. One thing was true. The person who wrote my diary was a gossip - petty, emotional and reactive. But I had never thought of that person as the real me. That person had fulfilled a outlet, but was not the whole person, least of all the most honest expression. I don't know if I had changed. I felt I had just drifted forward.

When I had first started my diary I had had juvenile dreams of it (once I became famous) being stumbled upon. Read by others for interest in what experiences had shaped my early life. In reality the content was pretty boring. I was proud. Too proud to be remembered for that. I wanted to be remembered for the good things.

On those dates around Newcastle she really was a beautiful girl. Some women give off an aura that makes you sure you are living. They give it for free. Always have been generous. It may not have lasted long but I had really cared for her in those brief days. We had had a lot of stories from those forgotten diaries to catch up on.


She told me about the time she had overdosed. I tried to imagine what it would taste like. Painkillers crumbling on the tongue; a synthetic white dust. It must be a sticky, dry taste. Rolling around a paracetamol tablet in the mouth, slimy plastic, anxious and knotted. A familiar hint of worry and suffering. Artificial, Unnatural. Like the nervousness before an exam - knotted stomach, nauseous illness.

I imagined her lying in her bedroom slowly passing out. Her sandals slip off her feet and onto the cheap, brown student carpet. Like a silent movie. I imagined one of her flatmates knocking on the door, finding her passed out and calling the emergency services. I imagined the quiet panic and the sense of danger and loss.

She told me something explicitly. That the cheating boyfriend hadn't come to visit her in hospital. This was something she could not believe. "How could not come and see me?" She had said. I had twinged. I knew I would not have visited her. On that rocking warm bus by the sea I had closed my doors to that currency. Shame. The taste of that white power she had so readily consumed. She had had so much to spend and no one to pay. Not even me.

Worse. He was happier now. Had a super hot girlfriend and a good job, had graduated first class.

Back on that bus how I had wished for painkillers. How I would have longed for that taste. For all future hangovers. Painkillers readily available by the bedside and a cold glass of water. I was as bad as him. The dog of disgrace. I would not learn. I would be stoned in public. I would walk out the next day and try to smile.

I remembered she had spoken something to me that day, as I had asked around for paracetamol. "Painkillers are bad for you." She had said. "Taking them builds up a resistance, a dependency. Suffering is always a better approach. If you can do without the painkillers you should." She was beautiful then too. Even when being spiteful. And I think she really had cared for me. But I gave no reassurance to her dark kernel. If my sandals had dropped would she have saved them? When a person hates the good that happens to bad people, they question when bad happens to them.

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