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PAIN - PS3 Network review

Excellent

For whatever base reason, there are few things in this world that are more purely hilarious than watching other human beings hurt themselves in spectacular ways. It's the reason we watch NASCAR crashes, gruesome skateboard wipeouts and reruns of Jackass. It's also the reason that PAIN, a downloadable PlayStation Network game about flinging yourself at high speeds against buildings, is so relentlessly entertaining.

The setup is simple: you've got one indestructible idiot, one giant slingshot and one city block filled with clockwork cars, trains, pedestrians and all kinds of destructible objects. Launch your idiot in any direction, and you'll score points by wrecking stuff and causing as much injury as possible to him and those around him.

If that sounds stupid, rest assured that it is. Very, very stupid. But it's also wildly addictive, endlessly hilarious and takes more strategy, planning and creativity than you might think. Granted, in "Paindemonium" - the game's default, single-player sandbox mode - you're free to aimlessly wreak havoc, reducing the city block to a ruin through multiple launches before resetting everything back to its pre-disaster state and starting over again. And if you play like that, you're guaranteed to get bored fast.

Thankfully, your real goal here isn't just to cause mayhem - it's to cause as much mayhem as possible in a single launch, racking up a chain of destruction that translates into massive points (which in turn will unlock new stuff). Doing this well takes experimentation; for example, you could just launch yourself into a construction worker's rickety scaffold, which will bring scaffold and worker crashing into the street, potentially squashing passersby and causing minor traffic accidents. It doesn't take much thought or effort, and it'll cause some moderate damage and be moderately amusing.

On the other hand, you could launch yourself ass-first onto the roof of a hotel and grab a bikini girl by the arm before slamming full-speed into an explosive propane tank, which will send you both flying the other way. After then smashing through a neon sign, you can hurl the bikini girl into the scaffold and knock it down, fly into another explosive tank, smash face-first into a plate-glass window, fall to the street below and get dragged by a car, which will then crash into a dumpster, flip spectacularly and cause a big traffic pile-up, all the while netting you massive points and being infinitely more awesome than that other thing.

It's worth saying at this point that, although that description on the last page might seem extremely violent and sadistic, PAIN is more Wile E. Coyote than Faces of Death; nobody gets bloodied or bent out of shape, and the violence is too comical to be shocking. Which makes it a lot easier to stomach the act of throwing mimes through plate-glass windows in the game's extremely demanding Mime Toss mode.

All the elaborate craziness is helped along by the fact that your input isn't just limited to aiming and shooting. Your idiot can also grab in any direction as he sails past objects, which - depending on their size - will either make him pick them up and hold them until you release the button, or will just leave him hanging from them. The latter works in your favor when it's something movable; grabbing onto a dangling girder, for example, will enable you to swing around on it, while the giant bowling ball in the background will roll free when you grab it, smashing through an elevated railway and launching you into space if you let go at the right second.



You can also control his flight with the analog stick, and if you hit something, you can use an aftertouch feature called "Ooch" to nudge him violently in any direction. Slamming into other objects this way will let you use Ooch again, and shaking the Sixaxis pad will boost it into a Super Ooch, which jerks your idiot so violently that it's like he got hit by an invisible truck. This is key to building up big, destructive combos, as it's often the only way to nudge yourself closer to an explosive crate or into the path of an oncoming vehicle.

When you get tired of tearing up the city - and you will - PAIN offers up some other distractions, like the aforementioned Mime Toss, a less-interesting minigame where you launch yourself at chimps and a reshuffled version of its usual city block that's accessible once you've racked up 1.5 million points' worth of damage. You can also unlock new idiots to launch out of your catapult (including a drunken Santa and his lingerie-clad assistant, both of whom can only be "unlocked" for an additional dollar each, payable over PSN), and the multiplayer games - PAIN-flavored variations on bowling and horse, along with a mode in which you're just supposed to bounce off as many explosive crates as possible - give you an excuse to call some friends into the room.

That's kind of a good idea anyway, though, because PAIN is a lot more fun if you've got some similarly sick-minded friends around to share it with. Not so much because of its multiplayer modes (although those are fun in their own right), but because taking turns creating more and more ridiculous smash-ups will keep the single-player game from getting old, thereby enabling you to wring a lot more entertainment value out it than its $10 price tag implies. It's also more fun to use the robust replay feature - which lets you pause, slow down, rewind and go frame-by-frame through the whole block with a freely controllable camera - when there's someone else around to appreciate it, especially since there's apparently no way to save your best runs to show off later.

Given its $10 price tag, it's surprising just how much entertainment PAIN offers. Creative players can squeeze hours of fun out of its crotch-smashing, civilization-ruining antics, and it's perfect for blowing off steam when you've got a few minutes to kill. It's also obviously meant to be stuffed with downloadable content later on, meaning you'll likely have reasons to come back even after you've seen and done everything the game has to offer. The sophomoric idiocy isn't for everyone, but for what it is and what it costs, PAIN is hands-down one of the best things ever to hit the PS3.

More Info

Release date: Nov 29 2007 - PS3 (US)
Available Platforms: PS3
Genre: Action
Developed by: Idol Minds
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Crude Humor, Sexual Themes, Violence

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2 comments

  • CreeplyTuna - December 28, 2009 3:43 p.m.

    it is awful. i bought it, and now i want my money back. its not as fun as the review makes it out to be. save ur money!
  • oscarpiggy - January 11, 2009 3:26 p.m.

    wow i expected this to be awful

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