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Painkiller: Resurrection review

Serving up mediocre justice between heaven and hell


  • Pinning enemies to the wall with a stake gun
  • Flashes of inspiration in the enemies
  • Plenty of online maps


  • Completely brainless shooting
  • Monstrously dull campaign
  • Pacing is all wrong

According to the official website, Painkiller: Resurrection had “a Catholic priest advising” it and offers “painstakingly researched details” of its purgatorial setting. You have absolutely no idea how much we want to see those notes. The official word on whether Satan could have his bottom handed to him with a shotgun? That’s edutainment!

Sadly, we can’t comment on the veracity of Painkiller’s hellish abysses of damned souls without murdering a few puppies, downing a whole pack of ibuprofen and probably renouncing atheism. Still, we can’t argue about the action side: as a shooter, Resurrection is definitely a trip through purgatory. But not in a good way.

At heart, it’s exactly the same as the original Painkiller, with an upgraded engine and some new Max Payne (no relation) style graphic novel bits scattered around the place. You’re in the afterlife, you’ve got a gun, and there are hundreds of demons between you and the end of the level. It’s completely brainless shooting, from start to finish.

Unfortunately, what fun there is in pinning enemies to the wall with a stake gun – and we think we can agree, that’s quite a lot – is let down by a monstrously dull campaign that manages the unusual trick of simultaneously being much too short, at just six levels, and yet still making almost all of them longer than a sentence for nun genocide. When you’re constantly under siege, there’s a limit to how long you want to be stuck in one place, especially in areas this bland. There are flashes of inspiration, such as the giant pirates wielding dual-cannons under their arms, and their (unbelievably dreadful) sea of eternally beached ships, but the majority is murky, unending meh, punctuated by tiresome rounds of “Where the f--- am I meant to go now?”

The length of the levels also makes it unlikely you’re going to want to head back for the special bonus objectives, like killing all nine bazillion monsters on the map.

Even playing normally, the enemies are more annoying than exciting, particularly when the game wheels out the fast-moving explode-o-dogs, or blips a small army into existence when what you really need is a health boost. Only a few weapons are genuinely fun to use, and even then, the appeal wanes when the more annoying baddies show up.

Multiplayer may prove a saving grace, although it’s unlikely that Resurrection will put Painkiller back into the spotlight it enjoyed a few years back. There are plenty of online maps, thankfully smaller than the main campaign’s, which should keep existing fans happy for a while. Online or not though, only the most hardcore need apply for this new chance at gun-happy redemption.

Nov 4, 2009

More Info


This guilty pleasure FPS series is starting to wear out its welcome. It's still crammed with hellish shooting, crazy violence and explosive death, but the dumb violence and cheap thrills are getting real old.

Franchise namePainkiller
UK franchise namePainkiller
PlatformPC, Xbox 360
US censor ratingMature
UK censor rating18+
Release date27 October 2009 (US), 27 October 2009 (UK)
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