Painkiller: Overdose

IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/overdose_09.thumbnail.jpg)

Game over too quickly? Want to prolong your experience? The mod community is here for you. Who can forget such classic mods as Windowless Room of a Dozen Enemies, or Exploding Barrels Spell Out My Girlfriend's Name (Please Come Back Edition)? Let's say you've always wondered what your favorite game would play like with some overly specific game-breaking feature. Some hard working modder has put time and effort into giving you that option. When you want to remove the feature, simply install someone else's incompatible mod, and repeat. Eventually, the constant crashing will force you to go outside for once and stare at a tree, wishing a stranger would decorate it for you. The beauty of the free mod is that it's always worth the money. Commercial releases can disappoint us just by setting an unrealistic price point. For example, if someone tried to charge forty dollars for a community mod by calling it an expansion pack or a sequel, any reasonable gamer would be surprised and dismayed.

On another note, did you know that Painkiller: Overdose, the $40 expansion pack/sequel to Painkiller, began life as a community mod project? Surprise! Dismay! The Warsaw development studio People Can Fly created the original Painkiller in 2004. The Prague-based Mindware Studios created Overdose as a "grassroots development project" which later received "full financial and publisher support" from publisher DreamCatcher Games. It's complicated but the important details are Warsaw, Prague, and forty dollars. Two of these are cities in Europe and the third is squirrel-chasingly crazy.

Overdose doesn't attempt to surpass the original Painkiller. Well, maybe it does but just fails. It's hard to tell really. Painkiller wasn't an especially ambitious FPS in 2004. Rather, it was a nostalgic throwback to the simpler era of Wolfenstein and Doom. Overdose throws back to the throwback, with even less sophisticated play. Enemies don't take cover, use flanking tactics, or even yell hurtful words. The smarter ones throw projectiles before they rush you. Some employ the clever tactic of having too many hit points. To defeat them you'll need to shoot extra hard while running backwards, which doesn't work in real shootouts.

While being attacked, you'll need to search all over for secret areas and collectibles, which give you special powers. This adds an element of strategy to the mindless shooting. If you're counting, that makes two elements in total. One will constantly get in your way as you try to enjoy the other. They take turns.

It's been a while, but didn't even Doom have some variety in level design, back in 1993? Not Overdose. In every level, you go into an arena, your exit is blocked, tons of enemies appear from nowhere, and once you've killed them all, the exit opens. That's brilliant enough, but the best part is killing that last enemy, who likes to hide. He's in a corner somewhere, writing his will. The only thing worse than running around a drab arena filled with ugly monsters is searching an empty arena wondering if you missed the exit. The art doesn't provide visual cues or even pretty distractions. Graphics aren't everything but an FPS level shouldn't look like the Logo turtle designed it.

Overdose is a prequel to the original Painkiller and fills in some details, in case you've been dying for more backstory since 2004. You play Belial, a demon who never shuts up. He whistles, chuckles, and tosses off quips like "Yummy," "Tastes like chicken," and "I love the taste of evil souls in the morning." We gain insight into his complex motivations with introductory speeches such as, "Ah, the American Civil War. Hope that bastard Grant isn't here." Really? Belial the demon hates Ulysses S. Grant? Does he resent Civil War era Grant, or the president who tolerated corruption in his administration and thus tainted the early Republican party? If so, he should say, "Ah, the American Civil War. Hope that bastard Vice President Shuyler Colfax isn't here."

The demo of Overdose is a tiring experience, but you should play through it at least once, as a preventative measure. It provides a real sense of the type of game you might otherwise purchase. And furthermore, forty dollars. Forty dollars! As a free mod Overdose would be a mild irritant. As a commercial release it's like being slapped in the face with your own dead cat, each paw clutching a little green portrait of that bastard Alexander Hamilton.

Comments

Welcome to Jeremy, our new writer! Very very pleased to have him on board

Awesome review, very funny!

Could that screen shot be LESS appealing?

Great perspective. Like the writing. Keep it coming.

The "review" sounds as if it is based entirely off the demo of the game, which isn't entirely fair I would think. The original Painkiller while essentially being a "throw-back" FPS had some of the best level design and atmosphere of any game I had played up to the time and hell, even now. It may have been a completely, utterly simple point and shoot type experience but all the lighting, sound design and what little gameplay there was combined into a fantastic experience. I had no idea that Overdose was coming until the demo came out, which I unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) can't run because of whatever reason Vista would like to conjure up. Painkiller plus the official expansion are up on Steam for the extremely low price of $10 last I checked. If you haven't played the original game it is well worth the $10 it costs, charging $40 for an "expansion" of a game that is at bargain-basement prices is nearly an insult, especially if said expansion is worse in many aspects compared to the original.

I like how you say things. It's sarcastic humor brought to a new level!

*Legion* wrote:

Could that screen shot be LESS appealing?

Yeah, I had never imagined having anorexic Vikings as enemies in a shooter: now I know why.

Great writeup Jeremy!

Thanks, guys! Asz, you're right, the article is based on the demo for Overdose, but that's the point of a demo, isn't it? Its flaws were very obvious and repetitive. You could buy it from Steam for a more complete assessment, but I'd say it's in no way worth your $40.

As a fan of the original Painkiller, you'd be very disappointed in Overdose. As a comparison, I played a few levels of the original, too. While I wouldn't call it a good game, from a technical standpoint it was much more polished and ambitious than I'd expected, having seen Overdose first. I could see it being worth $10 if you know what you're getting.

Asz wrote:

The "review" sounds as if it is based entirely off the demo of the game, which isn't entirely fair I would think. The original Painkiller while essentially being a "throw-back" FPS had some of the best level design and atmosphere of any game I had played up to the time and hell, even now. It may have been a completely, utterly simple point and shoot type experience but all the lighting, sound design and what little gameplay there was combined into a fantastic experience. I had no idea that Overdose was coming until the demo came out, which I unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) can't run because of whatever reason Vista would like to conjure up. Painkiller plus the official expansion are up on Steam for the extremely low price of $10 last I checked. If you haven't played the original game it is well worth the $10 it costs, charging $40 for an "expansion" of a game that is at bargain-basement prices is nearly an insult, especially if said expansion is worse in many aspects compared to the original.

I as well have a love for the oldschool run & gun tribute that is Painkiller, and love the fact that it's now a $10 purchase on Steam.

However, I do have to agree that the demo of Overdose doesn't impress me at all.

Asz wrote:

The "review" sounds as if it is based entirely off the demo of the game, which isn't entirely fair I would think.

We wrestle with this a lot, both in terms of writing perspectives and in terms of talking about stuff on the CC, This tangentially ties back into the issue of scoring. If this were for a print mag or for a "formal" review which ended up with a score, I'd be uncomfortable. But it's not. That's kind of the whole point of a perspective -- it's an essay on some part of the experience of gaming. Demos are increasingly a significant part of that experience (something that I see as an absolute unadulterated win for gamers).

There have been many, many evenings where I've had 4 or more hours of entertainment for nothing. Occasionally (all too rarely I'm afraid) the demo either proves the game unworthy of purchase, or it satisfies my craving for what the game offers in its entirety. While Painkiller is indeed bargain basement, Overdose is still a 36 dollar pre-order on steam.

As for Nyles: couldn't be more excited to have you on the front page. You've got a unique (and hilarious) voice.

I am unable to properly convey how much I enjoyed reading this. This is the greatest thing I have read all day!

Very nice write-up, though disappointing. I loved the original Painkiller and was hoping this would be worth picking up in the bargain bin, but if it's worth less than free...

FINALLY, an article that manages to work in Shuyler Colfax AND not be cliched! Its about damn time.

Loved the piece, Nyles, you've a great voice.

Great piece, Jeremy. I watched the trailer for this game and wondered where that inane whistling was coming from. The trailer itself was bad enough to turn me off of the game, but this just sounds terrible.

A review that brings together squirrel-chasing, the American Civil War, DOOM, Prague, and that bastard Alexander Hamilton. Now this is the quality game commentary I've been looking for (or for which I've been looking, if you subscribe to that sort of thing)!

LobsterMobster wrote:

Very nice write-up, though disappointing. I loved the original Painkiller and was hoping this would be worth picking up in the bargain bin, but if it's worth less than free...

QFT.

I had a great time with Painkiller. By the time Battle Out of Hell was released I was a little weary of the formula. Now the idea of paying $40 for an official mod sounds about as appealing as punching myself really hard in the face.

Seriously, how can Dreamcatcher expect this to go toe to toe with Bioshock, Orange Box, UT3, and CoD4, not to mention the second tier offerings like Jericho and Blacksite?

Great article, by the way.

I will say that the juxtaposition of Grant/Colfax/Hamilton and the image of the claw-extended dead cat that made me both laugh out loud several times and seethe with writer's jealousy.

Squirrel-chasing is up there with weasel and u-boat too (as things almost always funny).

Podunk wrote:

Seriously, how can Dreamcatcher expect this to go toe to toe with Bioshock, Orange Box, UT3, and CoD4, not to mention the second tier offerings like Jericho and Blacksite?

Dreamcatcher does that a lot. They have some real gems, mostly adventure games, but also a lot of dreck that they must've picked up for a song. I have no idea why they priced it so high, though.

Also, everyone's kind words here are much appreciated. I have big plans to jump the shark next week, so stay tuned!

"Logo turtle..."

Heh heh.

Some of us remember. The rest just scratch their heads and wonder.

locdog wrote:

"Logo turtle..."

Heh heh.

Some of us remember. The rest just scratch their heads and wonder.

True. That makes Nyles, what, over thirty?

I'll be 31 in December, and I barely got that joke.

I spent many loving hours with that little triangular dude.

Yes, my little friend, RT 90.

33 in Jan... I was 9 when I first started to mess around with Logo... so old...

el_dino wrote:

True. That makes Nyles, what, over thirty?

I'd say I'm arguably not over thirty. I'm younger than 31.

And I'd say De-Nile is not just a river in Egypt, gramps.

Be proud, bruh. We can tell stories of the days when floppies were floppy, VGA graphics were a twinkle in your CRT's monochromatic eye, and a 5 MB hard drive was as exotic as a tape deck is today.

Don't mean to threadjack, but there's an idea for a post: best games you'd need a tape deck to play.

Babies. You are all BABIES.

And dude. Hammurabi and Trek FTW. Cmitts (he posts here) and I typed the entire bleeping thing in from line 10. THAT was a closely guarded tape. Although I believe it was very shortly after this we got our first disk drive. I'd have to sync this up with the release date of the integer basic card that ran the damn thing.

Yes kiddies, you used to have to buy an actual card, that went into an actual slot, in order to run programs in the fabulously feature-laden language of integer basic. Otherwise it was Assembly or bust.

rabbit wrote:

Yes kiddies, you used to have to buy an actual card, that went into an actual slot, in order to run programs in the fabulously feature-laden language of...

Yeah, yeah. And it was powered by a direct current voltaic pile you got on loan from Edison himself and you were GRATEFUL to have it, by gum.

Now settle down and take your Geritol or no one's watching Matlock tonight.

locdog wrote:

Now settle down and take your Geritol or no one's watching Matlock tonight.

I give that insult a 2.3. Both references have been heavily overused in reference to my esteemed personage. "Methuselah" would be a nice change of pace. We haven't had any caveman references lately, and some "WWII Vet" stuff might round it out nicely. A nice thing about "appreciating the birth of the delta blues from the back of a boxcar" would make me proud. But no, you had to resort to Matlock again. Sheesh.

Well I think I deserve at least a 5 for the whole Edison bit, but fine:

rabbit is so old

*how old is he*

rabbit is so old Strom Thurmond once voted for him.

...

*crickets chirping*

Hey, you come up with new material that fast.