|Painkiller (2004) |
April 26, 2004
Painkiller : Multiplayer Review by Quakers
|by: defect0r ( April 26, 2004 )
Experience: 3 Years+
April 8th, 2004 marked the highly anticipated release of Painkiller into the hands of eager gamers world-wide. Expectations were running high in the Quakeworld community, with developers promising to capture the hearts of hardcore Quakeworld players with furiously paced multiplayer action, and a state of the art graphics engine sporting the latest DirectX9 features. These claims, while difficult to believe, did receive extra attention given the fact that that RxR, and Highlander of Quakeworld's KTPRo, and MVD server projects respectively are members of the prestigious Painkiller development team.
|» Pros|| |
The People Can Fly team has put together a fantastic looking graphics engine that features the latest and greatest features such as stencil shadows, high quality multi-layered skies, weather effects, specular highlight maps, ultra high detail textures, high polygon models, and world portals. Equally impressive is the licensed havok physics engine that makes all world objects within painkiller behave realistically as they would in the real world. For example, you have the now next-generation mandatory rag-doll physics, objects rolling down sloped surfaces, and pieces of debris fragmenting from explosions in a realistic fashion. Painkiller is very commendable in the sound department as well. The ambient music captures the atmosphere of the levels perfectly, while important game sounds are new and unique.
Sadly, this is where all the good stuff ends, and the nightmare known as Painkiller begins. I have so many bones to pick with this game that I'm going to keep this portion of the review in point form as it would be too long to get into otherwise. The major problems first...
|» Cons|| |
The net code in this game is beyond horrendous. The mouse is directly tied into the net code somehow, so the higher your ping is the more lagged your mouse and FOV is. There is no client side prediction, or if there is it is certainly undetectable. Movement is reminiscent of 1995 Net Quake beta even on the lowest pings. This game is totally unplayable online. The forums are flooded with hundreds of whines about this issue.
NO USER SYSTEM
Painkiller has unified config settings for single player and multiplayer. The problem with this is that, while in single player people like to play with all the eye candy and music on, in multiplayer they want optimize their settings to squeeze the most FPS they can out of their machines. Switching settings back and forth is a major annoyance.
NO WARMUP / PREWAR
Upon connecting to team death match servers you wait at the scoreboard until everybody readies up. If one player is idle or is being a jackass on purpose and does not ready up, the game does not start, and you end up staring at the scoreboard for half an hour.
NO VOTING SYSTEM
Currently, there is no voting system present to change maps, or kick / ban people from servers.
NO SPECTATOR MODE
The game does not contain any spectator mode.
NO DEMO RECORDING / PLAYBACK
Neither single player nor Multiplayer contains the ability to record or playback demos.
NO LINUX DEDICATED SERVER
The People Can Fly development team has not released a Linux dedicated server binary. This results in most people hosting non dedicated servers on Windows machines. (READ: LAG)
LACK OF MAPS
The multiplayer game contains a total of 7 maps. 2xDUEL, 3xFFA/TDM, 2xMIDAIR, 1xVOOSH
NO MAPPING TOOLS
No mapping tools have been released for the community to create their own maps.
LACK OF SERVERS / PLAYERS
There are only 25 servers in the whole of USA and 5 in the continent of EU. Majority of these servers are empty. I fear that Painkiller will not reach critical mass and become a force to be reckoned with.
FRONT / END
The front end is nowhere near as robust and functional as it should be with all options just a few clicks away. Many of the settings are not accessible, whether by design or another reason.
BUNNYHOPPING FOR THE MASSES
The ever elusive and masterful art of bunnyhopping has been reduced to holding down a single key and mashing a single button. You hold forward and hit jump as fast as you can. No rhythm or particular direction is required; a 1 year old baby could pull it off effectively. After roughly 3 jumps you reach a capped speed which cannot be exceeded. Furthermore, hitting the strafe key kills all your gained momentum and throws you 90 degrees perpendicular to your direction of movement. You navigate by pointing your crosshair, making it impossible to aim independently of the direction you are traveling while bunnyhopping, which further decreases its usefulness.
SCRIPTING FOR THE MASSES
Rocket jump and forward Rocket jump scripts are bound able from the front end menu. You decide whether this is good or not.
KEYS GETTING JAMMED
When you die, you have to release all of your movement keys before you can move again.
Painkiller contains a grand total of 3 player models. This is quite laughable for a modern day FPS. Quake 3, which is over three years old now, had more than 30 or so models out of the box.
IPX not without TCP/IP
Can not play over IPX protocol without a functional TCP/IP internet connection.
The inbuilt server browser does not indicate which servers are private and require a password and which do not, resulting in a lot of frustration trying to figure out which servers to connect to.
You must select your team in the multiplayer options front end menu and you cannot switch teams once you are connected to a server.
One of the downsides of having true player hit detection is that it is much harder to hit your opponents. For example, you can shoot projectiles between their legs, under their arms, or over their shoulders. In a fast-paced multiplayer FPS over the internet, this creates more frustration than anything else.
Painkiller consistently crashes for a lot of users at the end of a match when the scoreboard is shown. Many people are consistently experience random crashes as well. (I amongst them)
MAP "DM_ILLUMINATI" BUG
Taking the Pentagram on Illuminati causes all other players the server to be disconnected. GG?
FREE FOR ALL BUG
Falling into the lava does not slowly decrease your health, but instantly kills you in FFA (a bug)
Painkiller utilizes a new safedisc cd copy protection system that is incompatible with a lot of cd-roms (listed below)
1. Pan International CyberDrive 240
2. ASUS CD-S400
3. M a t s h i t a CR-581-B
4. Philips CDD2000
5. LG GDR-8161B
6. Toshiba HL-DT-STDVD-ROM GDR-8081N
7. LG HL-DT-STDVDRAM GMA-4020B Apr 2003 IDE
VIRTUAL CDROM PROGRAM INCOMPATIBILITIES
If your PC is running a virtual CD-ROM program (e.g. Alcohol 120%, Daemon Tools, Nero Image Drive, Clone CD, etc.), Painkiller will fail to install or run. Ironically this only affects people that purchased the game and insert the physical cd into their drives, not people installing the ISOs from harddrives using virtual CD-ROMs.
Let's begin with the facts. The multiplayer portion of the game ships with five multiplayer modes out of the box. Free for All, Team Death match, People Can Fly (Quakeworld's midair mode), Voosh, and The Light Bearer. While FFA, TDM, and MIDAIR need no introduction, the remaining variations require short introductions. Voosh is a multiplayer mode in which maps contain no weapons or ammunition, and each player has the same weapon with infinite ammo. The weapon is determined randomly by the server, and switches every sixty seconds to a new randomly picked weapon by the server. The final mode, The Light Bearer assumes that Quad Damage never wears off. The first player, who takes the Quad, can use it as long as they stay alive. Additionally, with every successful frag the player receives ten additional health. When the "Light Bearer" dies, he drops the Quad, and another player can pick it up. The winner is the person who has the Quad at the end of the game. The trick here is that, every time someone picks up the Quad, the time limit is raised by 30 seconds.
|» Review|| |
Painkiller presents players with an arsenal of five weapons, featuring primary, alternate, and special combo firing modes. Aside from the weapons, the maps are populated with three types of armor (bronze 100, silver 150, gold 200), a megahealth +100h (which ticks down to 100 slowly), health boxes, various ammunition, quad damage power-up, pentagram of invincibility, and a weapon mod power up (which increases the player's rate of fire and damage in certain cases. The player spawns with 100h and two weapons, the Painkiller and the Stake gun.
The Painkiller can be somewhat compared to Quakeworld's axe. Its primary attack is melee and does massive damage requiring only a second or two to shred you're opponent into pieces. It is commonly used as a last resort weapon when you run out of ammo, or to humiliate your opponents. The Painkiller's alternate fire releases a projectile that attaches itself upon surfaces. Thereafter, if you maintain your crosshair on the projectile that is attached to the surface, a shaft like beam is emitted from the Painkiller to the projectile that deals mediocre damage should your enemies happen to stumble into the beam. Hitting the alternate fire at this point, recalls the projectile so that it can be fired again to a different surface. Painkiller's special combo involves holding down the primary fire and spinning up the melee shredding blade, followed by hitting the alternate fire which releases the spinning blade as a projectile at your opponent. The speed of the projectile could be compared to the speed of Quakeworld's nail gun nail; therefore it is obviously extremely difficult to connect with. The special combo hit deals massive damage and kills all but the most heavily armored opponents.
The second weapon that you spawn with is the Stake gun. Its primary firing mode launches highly damaging stakes that deal 200 damage at short range and 300 damage at medium to long distances. This can be compared to that of Quake 3's rail gun; however with an infinitely slower arcing projectile (non hitscan). The alternate fire of the Stake gun is a standard parabolic grenade launcher that is of equal explosive strength as a rocket. The stake gun's special combo is the stake bomb which is the ability to launch a grenade (alternate fire) and then intercept this grenade mid-air with the stake (primary fire) making it explode. It is extremely difficult to pull off, however if one masters this skill it could be used as an essential rocket launcher. One additional note about the stake gun is that you have the option of intercepting an enemy's stake in the air with your own stake breaking it in half (read: hitting a bullet with a bullet). It is rarity to pull off but can certainly be spectacular if you do.
One of the most common weapons that can be picked up is the triple barrel shotgun. This puppy is Quakeworld's equivalent of the double barrel shotgun, but packing an extra barrel of oomph. This weapon's primary fire (hitscan) is extremely devastating at close range, able to take down the most heavily armored enemies in just a shot or two and knock them back into the air flying. However, at medium to larger the distances this weapon is less effective as the pellets tend to spread out, much like in Quakeworld. The alternate fire mode is a short range liquid nitrogen thrower that is effective at draining armor at a fast rate. This weapon has an as of yet undiscovered special combo. Now let's get into the meat of the arsenal. The rocket launcher is single handedly the most awesome weapon in the game. Its primary fire are the rockets that deal massive damage. Like in Quakeworld, the rockets are fast-moving, can kill a freshly spawned enemy with a single direct hit, and can knock opponents into the air if placed under their feet. The alternate fire is equally impressive and features a high rate-of-fire chain gun (hitscan) that can best be compared to the Quake II chain gun. It tears through heaps of ammo and in the hands of a skilled player can be used as an equivalent of QW's shaft. The rocket launcher's rumored special combo is that the chain gun deals 4x the damage on your opponent if you knock him into the air with a rocket before hand. The final weapon in the arsenal available to the players is the Electro driver. Its primary attack is the lightning we all know and love from QW, however severely dulled down. The weapon is not as powerful as in Qw, nor does it have any knock back effect or the ability to pin your opponent in in the air (a big disappointment). The alternate fire is slow rate of fire nail gun that deals minimal damage. The special combo of the Electro driver is a lightning proximity mine, which requires the player to hold down primary fire, followed by hitting the alternate fire to place the mine down. The proximity mine lies on any surface, and any players that come within its reach are hit by burst electricity that deals heavy damage.
It is difficult to see what will become of this game when it is plagued with flaws from the ground up. The multiplayer, as it currently stands in version 1.0, is nothing but a test of your patience. At many times, I felt prompted to pickup my mouse and throw it against the wall Armageddon-style. It is my opinion that this game was most likely rushed out of the door in the name of profits and that it requires at least a dozen major patches before it becomes semi-playable. However, many of these issues, like the net code, are so major I fear they will never be fixed or optimized. Perhaps in six months time when the above issues might be resolved, it will be worth taking a look at this game again. I had such high hopes for this, and it has turned out to be a thorough disappointment.
P.S. Thank you Yogic for proof reading!
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