Painkiller is a refreshing return to the basics.
The background story.. not important. All you need to know is you are trapped in Hell and the only thing that can redeem you is by turning everything in your path into a red puddle of goo.
Painkiller is a full on, all out, balls to the wall FPS where stealth and strategy is for big girls who wear lots of makeup. Enemies have no sense of self preservation, they charge at you in groups all eager to tear something off your body.. and perferably something you are fond of. But fear not! For you are armed with an array of death dealing weapons. Admittidly there are not a lot of weapons to play with, but all have two fire modes and they serve their purpose well.
The 'monsters' are really well designed and all have their own particular attacks. In fact, as you progress through the game you'll meet a new set of baddies every time (nicely matched to the theme of the level). They range from general cannon fodder which attack in large groups to double hard "I'm going to rip your head off and make balloon animals with your internal organs" demons.
At the end of every level you are greeted with an end of level boss. Serious sam had some pretty big bosses but I think these guys are even larger again. Just like a good old fashioned console game, each one has a weakness which you need to find and exploit to kill it.
Painkiller fills me with the kind of joy I used to get when playing Doom. It's uncomplicated, straight forward enjoyment of you vs several hundred enemies. Outmanned, outgunned but damn it all you're not going down without a damned good fight.
Many will say it's the same level after level, but in my very humble opinion it's just a return the very basics of the FPS which does away with all the fancy bells and whistles of interactive story and just focuses on you rampaging your way through the game.
Graphically, it's an impressive experience. Even on the most humble of PC's, you should find this runs nice and smooth. Surprisingly, even when your screen is filled with hordwes of bad guys (and it will be!) the action never drops to jerk-o-vision. The level desgins are very varied and the architecture on some of the buldings are a joy to behold. Textures everywhere are very detailed, crisp and clear - even in places where they could've cut corners and not bothered (like ceilings).
As you can tell, I'm pretty smitten with Painkiller. For me it's a true successor to the spirit of Doom (rather than Doom3 which I find takes itself a bit too seriously and feels more like a Nvidia tech demo than an actual game). If you are like me and you have a short attention span which needs to be filled with as much action as possible - choose Painkiller!