Pain – Review

Developer: Idol Minds
Platform: PS3
Release Date: Mar 2008

Click here for Pain trailer

The idea for Pain is simple, yet terrific. Senseless and idiotic violence is hilarious. Without it, we wouldn’t have slapstick. So, why not make a game that focuses on the concept? Not a beat-em-up, and not an action game. They just aren’t senseless enough. Therein lies the very essence of Pain: Funny, but completely meaningless.

The Set-up:
Element 1 = Slingshot.
Element 2 = Your character.
Fusion = Hilarious and mindless violence. Often for points.

The main problem with Pain is that it just isn’t intelligent. In any way whatsoever. I know this should seem obvious when we consider a game that involves shooting your character out of a slingshot to knock out monkeys. This isn’t Ulysses: The Video-game, after all. But it is unintelligent in both its design and presentation, as well as its concept. How many times can you possibly laugh at a video game character getting knocked around the same two levels? The novelty wears off before the tutorial has even ended, and the game is in no way apologetic for this. There is downloadable content, extra levels and characters and so on, but for the initial package to have so little variety is pretty shameful. I mean, consider this:

At the very least, I think most people would agree that this is kind of funny. Even if you have seen it before, it get’s a bit of a giggle. Clearly the developers saw something like this (or very possibly some episodes of Jackass) and figured they could recreate the experience using a good physics engine.

Sadly, it doesn’t work. The only time I felt something even closely resembling laughter was when my character got hit in the head with a girder, sending him tumbling backwards while falling, as seen in the trailer. Other than this, your character is just a lifeless rag-doll who goes limp as soon as he’s been launched. It’s a good concept in theory. You might find it slightly amusing the first time you do it. If there was some way to incorporate the Eyetoy into the game and give the character your face, or the face of your friends, we might be on to something! But it doesn’t, and so the game feels largely like a tech demo or a Mini with some high quality graphics.

Multiplayer helps the game recover a little bit. Thankfully, you can play locally as well as online. On the topic of online gaming, whose idea was that?! Why would you bother blowing up some randomer on the other side of the world, when you could blow up your friends in your living room?! The steady rise of online gaming is a bad omen of things to come, some kind of gamer’s apocalypse in which all new games will disintegrate and turn into old copies of Pro Evolution. However, Pain does feature local multiplayer games, so that’s all right then.

There are four mini-game in total, as well as the main game. There’s Fun with Explosives, which sees you trying to cause as much pyrotechnic mayhem as possible. There’s Toss a Mime, a game which has you launching into a street mime, mankind’s greatest evil, and then attempting to throw him through plates of glass (oh, the irony!). There’s Spank the Monkey, a slightly naughty Ape Escape clone that sees you trying to hit as many monkeys as you can in as few launches as possible. And there is Pain Bowling, which is exactly what it sounds like. Then of course, we have the main campaign, i.e. Paindemonium.

This is the main mode in the game, in which there are no rules. You simply fire your character and try to rack up as much points as possible by making things explode in succession and performing combos. You do this with the ‘Ooch’ bar. This move basically means that, once your character has landed, you can cause him to spasm in a certain direction, which can hopefully lead to even more explosions, which we all know is good.

And that’s it. That’s all there is to the game. In its entirety, it feels like something you could probably unlock in Grand Theft Auto. When you consider exactly how much activity the likes of Skyrim, Metal Gear Solid 4 or the Final Fantasy series are able to pack into one disc, you will look at this, with a raised eyebrow and say “….really?”.

(Well, you probably won’t. I mean, it’s an inanimate object. Why would you be talking to it? Unless you’re simply insane…. Which you could be. I mean, have you considered the possibility? I did once. I poured orange juice all over my Weetabix instead of milk one morning, and it made me question my sanity. But the rabbit dressed as a driving instructor sitting opposite me assured me I wasn’t and then flew away, so I don’t think about it a lot anymore).

Overall:
I heard a lot about Pain when it was first released, and it sounded like a fun idea. And that’s really all it is, an idea. The idea hasn’t grown into itself and is therefore badly presented. The mini-games give it a slightly extended lifespan, but unless you are absolutely crazy about earning trophies, you will lose interest in this in about two hours at most. Still, if senseless violence is your cup of tea, that might just be enough.

Rating: 4/10

Killer…” – Jarvis

Shamelessly Awful Stuff:

  • Some of the characters you can download include the Fat Princess (from Fat Princess), Buzz (from Buzz), Daxter (from Jak and Daxter) and David Hasslehoff (from Knight Rider).
  • One of the most painful (but admittedly hilarious) experiences of my childhood took place in an evil French playground. Almost everything in the playground seemed designed to hurt children. I personally found myself victim to the Slide of Doom! It was constructed with little bumps all the way down to the bottom. Most kids held on to the sides and went down slowly, but that wasn’t really my style. I liked speed and danger. As such, everytime I hit a bump, I would launch a foot or two into the air and then SLAM back onto the slide. Only for it to happen again two seconds later. By the time I reached the bottom, I was considerably bruised and unwilling to be outside.
  • For anyone who saw Richie Rich as a kid, they will probably be fondly reminded of the ‘Kid-a-Pult’ when playing this game. No one saw that bit of the film and didn’t hate the upper classes, just a little bit, afterwards. Of course, when you saw he had his own McDonalds, you had to feel a little reassured that just because they were rich, didn’t mean that they had taste and would probably all grow to be morbidly obese.

This game is kind of like:

  • Watching the same episode of Jackass about 50 times in a row.

or

  • Having an entire playground to yourself
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