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PSN Review: PAIN

May 24, 2009 Written by Adam Wolfe

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PAIN flew onto PSN with much anticipation and criticism. A truly entertaining-looking game with a simple concept: “To cause pain and destruction”. Does the simple game play and overall humorous nature of this game make it a must-own? Or does the sheer lack of basic content hurt the overall experience?

The whole premise behind PAIN is to put your character on a giant sling shot and shoot him into the city, causing a lot of pain for your character and inflicting as much destruction upon the environment as possible. That is pretty much it. No story, no plot. Just you, a slingshot and a city. This all seems pretty easy and for the most part it is, but behind the relatively straightforward game play, there are a lot of creative touches.

First off, the living, breathing city is a character in its own right. With nearly every launch of your character, you will discover new areas of the city to destroy. From foul-mouthed construction workers to a club called the “Man Hole” (See below), every new object and area is just as crazy as the last.

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Just about everything in the city is interactive and, for the most part, reacts realistically. Glass will shatter, scaffolding will break into pieces, and cars will blow up when hit. Well ok, that part’s not realistic. But for the most part, everything reacts according to its real life counterpart.

Your general controls are the left stick to move the slingshot, the right stick to adjust the power, and X to launch your character. While in the air, you can perform different poses by holding the L1 or L2 buttons and pressing any of the face buttons. When you hold a particular pose for two seconds, you will get a new multiplier added to your overall score. The face buttons are also used in a different way right before you hit a particular object; hit one of the face buttons without holding L1 or L2 and you will grab onto that particular object. This helps add to the destruction, and grabbing onto moving objects will help transport your character to different parts of the city.

Upon hitting the ground, you will get an ‘Ooch’ meter that allows you to move your character across the ground with the D-Pad. Keep moving for 2 seconds and the meter fills up again; keep doing this until you come to a complete stop. Another feature is the ‘Super Ooch’, which involves shaking your controller when you hit an object, person or the ground. You can only use this once per launch, but it helps by propelling you further in any given direction than the regular ‘Ooch.’

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All of these different controls are vital in helping you rack up the highest score possible. Every bone you break and object you smash will give you a multiplier,  but once you stop moving you have 14 seconds to hit something or your turn is up. Although getting high point values usually doesn’t unlock much, there are some internal bonuses like new outfits or new areas if you do a specific feat.

In total, there are four different layouts to the city, three of which have to be unlocked. Aftermath is the city two weeks after your initial visit, Demolition has you shooting into the construction site, and Block Party will have you launching from a different area after the city has been rebuilt. Although the environments are still generally the same, a lot of the objects get shuffled around, and even a few new ones get added.

Besides just destroying the city, there are a few other game modes as well. Bowling requires shooting your character at a stack of pins. You must be skilled to knock them all down, but using the Ooch to move your guy around does help a lot. The one catch to bowling is that a player using the second controller can try and stop you from getting to the pins by launching different items at you. Whether it’s an exploding crate or a falling girder from above, all are lethal and, if timed right, will stop you dead in your tracks.

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The two other modes are Spank the Monkey and Mime Toss. Spank the Monkey involves the strategic placement of monkeys all over the city, and it is your job to figure out how to hit them. Hit them all in the shortest amount of time and you will unlock the next difficulty. Mime Toss involves (you guessed it) tossing mimes, but through panes of glass. You grab the mime with one of the face buttons, then let go at the correct angle to destroy all of the glass pains as quickly as possible to unlock the next difficulty.

The graphics and sound aren’t really anything to write home about. The sound effects are pretty realistic, but unfortunately there is no background music, which is really unacceptable. There’s some voice acting, but it’s just your character yelling out phrases when launched or bumped into people or the environment, which gets old after a while. The cartoon graphics work for this game, but are somewhat plain. The game does get repetitive and tiresome after some time. Unless you have a bunch of friends over, PAIN isn’t all that much fun. More areas and more characters would have helped offset the repetitive nature of the game, as well as some extra modes.

Since Pain’s release, it has seen several updates and DLC packs; three new levels, a bunch of new game modes and a ton of new characters. Most will cost you, but some of the DLC is free. They have also fixed a lot of the bugs and added custom soundtracks, which definitely helps. Trophies have also been added into the mix, though some of them are extremely hard to obtain. If you don’t mind spending the extra money, the DLC fixes pretty much any complaint you may have had with this game.

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In closing, this is a fun game to sit back with some friends for an hour or two, but any longer and you’re most likely going to get bored. If you’re into pointless games where the primary goal is to cause pain and destruction, then this is the game for you. If you need a game with depth and story, definitely look elsewhere. Ideally, this is a fun game suited for short bursts of play time.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score


Game play is fun, but repetitive.

Destruction is mostly realistic.

Lots of DLC support, but core content doesn’t offer much.

7 out of 10