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Painkiller: Hell Wars

Under a constant hail of putrified flesh gibs and congealed blood, Daniel Garner fends off an overwhelming horde of monstrous demons ... with a shotgun (among other blunt projectiles). Painkiller: Hell Wars slams you into a nightmarish world where you play as Daniel and attempt to claw your way out of Hell. Set in a strange sort of purgatory suffering from a plague of demonic beasts, Painkiller: Hell Wars hurls gore and zombie bits at an amazing pace.

This game is alarmingly fast, and the Xbox delivers the swarms of polygons with a creamy smoothness. As you run Daniel through each of the damned levels (quite literally damned), the frantic pace of turning corners and unloading shotgun-blasts into the chests of hideous creatures becomes a demonstration of the many ways things splatter when hit with buckshot. While some areas are tight, claustrophobic hallways or tunnels, others are gigantic, wide-open outdoor slaughterhouses, and the evil demons mob you just about constantly no matter where you are. This is not a sneak-around/take-cover kind of game.

Daniel has an arsenal of pain-producers besides his trusty shotgun, including a stake-thrower, a rocket-launcher and a quick-firing rail-cannon. All of these weapons come in terribly handy, but don't differ all that much from the standard first-person shooter load-out. However, in addition to the firearms, you can use the new Black Tarot cards to augment Daniel's abilities, giving him more health or faster reload times by completing special objectives hidden within the level.

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