Category: Action Games
Developer: Idol Minds Digital Entertainment
Publisher: Sony Computer Entertainment
I remember the first time I saw Pain; it was at E3 in Santa Monica in July 2007. My first thought was “what a great idea, launching a game character through the air into a destructible environment with no negative consequences in sight”. Yep, my inner devil was speaking and I have admit I didn’t feel single pang of guilt in the fact that this game encourages you to throw a human being into various obstacles (e.g. glass or exploding creates) in an effort complete your goal. So how did the final version turn out? Read on.
The beauty in Pain is not in the visuals, but in the physics engine that powers the game. That being said, the game is no slouch to look at. The game is in high resolution and is actually quite colorful. The one level that you play the game in is detailed and there are lots of areas for you to explore. The ability to destroy the area around you is part of the genius of this game and the visual representation for such is well implemented. From explosions to shattering glass there is nothing wrong with how the developers rendered the on-screen images. For you true techheads out there I found that the game ran at a very constant framerate and I actually can’t think of any prevalent slowdown or glitches. This is somewhat impressive as a lot of the PS3’s horsepower is designated to the physics engine. Overall there is nothing to be disappointed with here and the visuals definitely help fit the games overall feel.
The audio in Pain manages to do an adequate job. There is an emphasis on the main character and the sounds he makes. From his Tarzan like scream to such silly things as his flatulence the focus is truly on the guy you are throwing through the air. There is also good use of other sound effects such as glass shattering, various explosions and cars driving by to name a few. However, what I did find strange was that there were occasions where large pieces of construction (e.g. beams) fell and did not make a shred of noise. Overall the sound in Pain is there, just don’t expect it to wow you or pull you into the game so to speak.
Pain is one of the latest downloadable games on the Playstation Network and the premise is as simple as they come too. You are in control of launching Jarvis, your main character, through the air into a very destructible downtown environment. Your goal is to master various challenges such as breaking pains of glass or landing on an exploding objects (e.g. mailbox or create). Where the game gets tricky is that you will find yourself having to pull off combinations in an effort to get Jarvis to his final destination. You will have to bounce him off of various objects (e.g. other characters, scaffoldings or vehicles) to eventually reach your ultimate goal. Your score accumulates on the right side of the screen as you destroy all the objects that you hit.
To launch Jarvis into the air and across the level you are given a human catapult to assist you in your effort. The left stick controls the direction and angle of your pull while the right side of the stick moves Jarvis in the sling. As you move Jarvis around (aim) an on-screen green arc will show you where Jarvis’ path will lead him. With a simple press of the X-button Jarvis launches through the air and you use the left stick to control his drift in mid-air. You can also utilize the face buttons to grab objects you may come into contact with during your flight to further your journey. Finally, to add style and flair to your airborne adventure you can also use left shoulder and face button combos in an effort to do pull off mid-air cannonballs, poses and other show-off moves.
Pain allows for three different modes of play in both single and multiplayer flavors. In single player you have PAINdemonium, Mime Toss and Spank the Money. PAINdemonium allows for no restrictions and you just rack up points by throwing Jarvis through the air in your effort to destroy various objects. In Mime Toss you must pluck one of those black and white make-up wearing fools out of the air and hurl him through pains of glass while playing for a best time. Finally, in Spank the Money you throw Jarvis into some furry friends all over the city. In multiplayer you have Horse, Bowling and Fun with Explosives. In Horse you have to hit a specific object while pulling off the best score in an effort to avoid getting a letter that will eventually spell horse. In Bowling you launch Jarvis at a set of pins while your opponent sets up obstacles. Finally, Fun with Explosives is pretty much self explanatory as you shoot (literally) Jarvis for high scores and big and flashy explosions.
You will find yourself involved in the PAINdemonium mode more then anything else as there is no story to be followed as you need only to launch Jarvis towards any of the objects on the level in an effort to rack up a high scores while pulling of some really stylish and pain inducing moves. The attraction to Pain is in the ability to string moves together. By using the d-pad to move Jarvis you will deplete an “ooch” meter. As long as the word “ooch” has some color in it you will be able to bounce Jarvis around the environment. Once you have thrown Jarvis and created some mass destruction a simple press of the R1 button and you are transported back to the launcher to try and wreak havoc once again.
Pain is somewhat addicting as you will find yourself trying to destroy that one object that just seems out of reach. Add to this that Pain has somewhere in the neighborhood of 55 trophies spread out across all of the available game modes and you have even more reason to play. For example, you will be rewarded for such things as your first grab, reaching a milestone score or throwing a mime 100 feet. Regardless, this game does have some charm that keeps calling you back for more play.
So everything sounds hunky-dory right? Well, unfortunately it is not. Pain has a glaring fault or two. The first is that that it takes place on one level only. I found that although I wanted to try to get that one out of reach object I became somewhat tired of the same level, same sights and same background action. I mean really, why is there only one level. Sony has hinted at DLC for the game, but I don’t know what to expect for such. Bottom-line, even with the addictiveness that this game provides, being limited to one level is somewhat frustrating and may turn people off. The second area I was disappointed in was the lack of online multiplayer. This game just screams for some online action. Don’t get me wrong, I like that I can sit with a friend and play it together, but it would have been nice to hook up online and play with my distant friends who can’t sit in the same room with me.
Overall Pain is a very addictive game that not only looks and controls well, but it also demonstrates how the Havok physics engine can be utilized for some pure gaming craziness. However the title is limited to one level and it is this very fact alone that takes away from what it could have been. As an exclusive Playstation Network title it really should have included more levels and some online multiplayer modes to make it even more enticing. If you are a PS3 owner and are looking for some original downloadable content then take a close look at Pain, but be forewarned that you may tire of playing this game in the same level time after time again.