|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Mindware Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: DreamCatcher||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 23, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-32||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Nathan Meunier
Sure, first-person shooters are a dime-a-dozen these days, yet every so often a new title comes along which strikes just the right chord. The release of Painkiller in 2004 marked a decidedly gruesome and satisfying return to the old school roots of the genre. In the original, players found themselves cutting a swath through the depths of hell against throngs of unholy minions with a sincere nod to gory FPS classics like Doom, Duke Nukem, and Blood. If you like less plot and more blood with your first-person shooters, then this series won't disappoint. In Painkiller: Overdose the forces of good and evil collide once more, leaving a deliciously gore-strewn path of destruction in their wake.
With Lucifer defeated, Belial, keeper of portals, has finally escaped the dark magic which kept him imprisoned in hell for many years. The power to move from one plane of existence to another via trans-dimensional portals allows the half-angel, half-demon to jump from world to world to exact his powerful vengeance on those who responsible for his incarceration. A touch of insanity has set-in, thanks to his prolonged captivity, and he's bent on hunting down those in heaven and hell which co-conspired against him. Those who stand in his way will find themselves relieved of their limbs. You'll get to play as Belial while rampaging through increasingly bizarre and exotic worlds on the path of vengeance.
Overdose was clearly developed with fans of old school first-person shooters in mind. Levels are fairly linear. You'll enter an area and basically have to mow down, disembowel, and eviscerate everything around you before a checkpoint opens up and you can proceed to the next area. While the formula is slightly stale, the sweet weapons, inventive and gross creatures, towering boss battles, and extremely creative and detailed level settings make up for the game's simplicity.
This time around the weaponry is more hellish in design with a combination of revamped versions of the older weapons and handful of new items for your arsenal. Aside from visual changes, the painkiller (now a hell-cube) and the shotgun (decked out with skulls and ribcage) remain the same as in the original game. Each of the weapons, including the six new additions, features a primary and secondary fire mode. The stake gun is replaced with a crossbow which shoots bolts or bouncing explosive skulls, the rocket launcher is replaced with a machinegun/grenade launcher combo, and there's a glowing flintlock pistol retrofitted to fire radioactive blasts or spew streams of toxic ooze. Two personal favorites include a severed goblin head which emits red lasers from its eye sockets or screeches, causing foes to drop in agony, and a satanic blade which can fire glowing skulls or be spun around in the air with dark magic and directed towards foes telepathically. Some weapons work better than others against particular foes, but all of them are more than capable of causing series damage and an abundance of flying body parts.
Part of the excitement of Overdose is you never really know where the next level will take you or what unholy beings will be thrown at you. Players will plow through purgatory, hell, medieval castles, Egyptian deserts, the trenches of the Civil War, a nuclear factory, a family farm and slaughterhouse, ancient Japan, outer space, the icy tundra of the Norse Vikings, and far weirder places. The variety is staggering both in terms of the scenic visuals and the motley crew of unholy creatures you'll encounter. There are tentacle beasts, deformed puss-flinging mutants, possessed birdhouses which spew heat-seeking undead chickens, ninjas, medical doctors with buzz saw blades for hands, mummies, skeletal space demons, robots, flying alien cyborgs, undead maidens which vomit streams of blood, zombie graffiti artists with toxic spray paint, demon dogs, buzzing insects, animated piles of meat strung together Hellraiser fashion with hooks and wire, and more. One favorite in particular is a zombie-like creature which rips out chunks of its own entrails and tosses them at you. Overdose is an over-the-top freaky gore fest which is hilarious, gross, and completely bizarre, not to mention a hell of a good time.