Similarly, Painkiller offers a total of only five weapons, although each one includes primary, alternate and combo firing modes. "For us, you open a military book and you have 500 weapons, so it would have been extremely easy to do something like that but, again, we didn't want any replication," explains Adrian. "So if we have a projectile weapon like a stake gun, we are not doing another weapon that does the same thing. So the shotgun works completely differently because it's 'splash' damage and it's instant hit. The rocket launcher is also 'splash' damage but it's not instant hit. In effect, there are 10 weapons though because there is a double mode for each."
The point, says Adrian, is that they have focused on ensuring that each weapon is really well crafted. "No one ever plays [a first-person shooter] with more than two or three weapons anyway. But if you have good weapons, you have to have good enemies. Otherwise it's just a Barbie game." And a Barbie game this most certainly ain't.
Another layer to the gameplay comes in the shape of black tarot cards hidden around each level. 'Permanent' tarot cards result in standard stat increases, allowing you to run faster, jump higher, double your ammo or increase your energy. It's the 'temporary' cards though that offer the real fun, such as being able to inflict four times the usual amount of damage for 20 seconds or taking advantage of the now-ubiquitous bullet time.
In addition to the tarot card-based features is a Death mode that kicks in after you've collected 100 of the orbs that litter the environments - and it's one of the coolest visual effects we've seen for ages. To signify your temporary transformation into a super-speedy invincible demon, the graphics take on a black and white negative effect: we'll have exclusive screenshots of this shortly.
The game utilises the Havok 2.0 engine which, without getting all techie on you, allows for some superb physics-based gameplay along with environments that behave in a realistic fashion. In short, it lets you pin monsters against walls with a stake gun.
Reckons Adrian, "In the same way that there's no way you could go back to 2D games now, I think the addition of physics is the same. We went back and played the first version of Painkiller, which had no physics, and we could not believe how crap it was! You can use the physics to prepare traps for monsters, you can use the environment to your own advantage and it just makes the world more believable."
Finally, Adrian spoke to us briefly regarding the Xbox version of the game, due out a couple of months after the PC game hits shelves. "The funny thing is that it's not a technical problem to have a game like this on Xbox; the problem is with the gameplay because it's a completely different controller. So we will be redesigning Painkiller in a way so it will be more 'horizontal' with less vertical movement. It's basically true that Xbox is the only console that can handle Painkiller. I would really love to have Painkiller on PS2 as well, because of the market share, but it was only really possible on Xbox. There will be extra levels, extra monsters, different multiplayer modes, Xbox Live compatibility. And we're thinking about doing something completely different for one level - maybe an underwater level." No word yet though on whether it'll include flesh-throwing zombie fish.