Recent years have seen a rash of first person shooters which have very little to set them apart from each other, almost as if they're stuck in a rut with just a poorly thought-out plotline to give a reason for the game to exist at all.
Thankfully Painkiller does things a bit differently, and feels as though it's gone back to a time when the genre was doing something new and innovative.
Although there is a storyline to Painkiller which sees Daniel Garner being sentenced to serve pain somewhere between Heaven and Hell, it's really not a major requirement to become too entangled in it, and instead you can get in to the thick of the action blowing up the near-endless stream of monsters in quite a gorish style, with body parts smouldering and debris littering the surrounding area.
It's soon clear to see as you make your way around the levels, that the combination of the PAIN game engine alongside the excellent Havock physics allows for some highly impressive on-screen action, with Dreamcatcher claiming that each monster has in excess of 3000 polygons, and the bosses nearly three times the amount - not to mention the environments themselves which are some of the most detailed we've seen in a game of this type.
In fact it's the gruesome way in which your opposition reacts to being blasted away, along with the lush hi-res textures that make up the characters and surroundings which really make Painkiller stand out from the crowd, and sees every single kill results in the sort of detail and animation which puts other recent titles to shame.
Online play is where Painkiller ultimately excels the most, and there are five multiplayer modes on offer, with up to 16 players able to take place in each. One of the modes which simply must be mentioned is the excellent "People Can Fly" - aptly named after Painkiller's developer - it gives each player a rocket launcher, and you only score a kill if the person you've shot is airborne at the time, meaning some pretty frantic gameplay ensues.
Painkiller is a surprisingly addictive game which although loosing some of the features that more recent First Person Shooter titles have had, actually benefits from its sheer simplicity.
If you're waiting for Doom III or Half-Life 2 to arrive later this year and want something to fill the gap you really can't go wrong with this game.Overall score: 8 out of 10
Recommended Price: £29.99
Available: NowBuy Painkiller for the PC from Amazon