Somebody finally made a Painkiller sequel that doesn't suck.
Painkiller: Hell & Damnation isn't exactly a sequel in the purest sense, but given the ugly history of previous attempts to follow it up, it's close enough that we're going to give it a look. Apparently realizing that making a non-terrible sequel to Painkiller is impossible, the team at The Farm 51 decided to take a different tack and just remade the original instead, making a few changes and throwing in some extra stuff but leaving the core game almost entirely alone.
The new Painkiller sports a new weapon, the "Soulcatcher," a combination energy beam/saw-blade thing that sucks up the souls of the fallen without the usual wait. The titular Painkiller weapon is actually absent for the first level of the game but that, I suspect, is to force players to get used to the Soulcatcher, as it reappears in the second level. The game also features a new intro cinematic that changes the setup of Daniel Garner's trip to Purgatory somewhat, a two-player co-op mode for the single-player campaign and and eight-player survival mode, new music by Ojo Rojo in some levels (the original soundtrack remains intact for most of it) and of course updated graphics throughout.
As a dedicated man of science, I decided to do a little head-to-head comparison of Hell & Damnation with Painkiller Black, the ultimate incarnation of the Heavenly Hitman that also happens to be about six years old. There's no doubt that Painkiller HD is the real deal, because it's basically Painkiller Black 2.0; levels are tweaked here and there, enemies are a little different and other relatively minor changes have been put in place, but it's still 100 percent Painkiller. Even more interesting, however, is the fact that the original game has held up remarkably well over the years. It was a gorgeous shooter in its day and on modern hardware, with resolution and visual effects cranked up to 10, it still looks great. At a casual glance, textures are almost indistinguishable between the two, and the only significant visual improvement I noticed in HD is in the character models and skins, which are significantly more detailed.
I can't say that Painkiller HD is all that much "better" than Black, but it's 20 bucks on Steam, which is a great price for this kind of over-the-top action, especially if you haven't previously indulged. On the other side of the coin, Painkiller Black is 75 percent off as part of the Steam Halloween Sale, which means you can score it right now for $2.49. Either way, you're going to murderize half of Hell on the serious cheap, and you're going to have a blast doing it.