PAIN Goes to the Park!
PAIN has to be one of the best PlayStation Network titles of last year. It featured a simple but highly satisfying premise: fling people out of giant slingshots and cause them lots of pain. In the original title, you had a large cityscape that included everything from large skyscrapers to glass trucks to cause your poor character to experience the most pain possible. The environment itself was quite small, but there was plenty to explore, nonetheless.
Still, one of my biggest criticisms of the game was there just wasn’t enough content here to make PAIN feel like a fully fleshed-out game. However, with the Amusement Park expansion, PAIN not only gets a new and improved environment, but several new game modes as well. The new content helps to give PAIN a shot of updated gameplay as well as some much needed lasting appeal.
But of course, what any PAIN fan will relish most about this new expansion is the new environment, and the Amusement Park definitely doesn’t disappoint. The actual environment is about the same size as the downtown level, but it is jam-packed full of thrill rides, carnival attractions, and even a big volcano right in the center. There is more movement in this level, which is a stark contrast from the static feel of the cityscape environment. This is definitely a good thing because the moving attractions provide more character mobility, which translates to more game time (and higher scores.) So, for instance, if you hit the swinging pirate ship attraction you can be flung all the way to the other side of the park where there is a spinning tilt-a-whirl, which can spiral you toward the go kart attraction where you can hold on as the vehicles race in circles. The enhanced movement opportunities definitely make the game a lot more entertaining to play and also make launches feel less repetitive.
One aspect of the new amusement park stage is the enhanced destructive forces in the level. While the original PAIN cityscape had signs and scaffolding that was destructible, the different elements didn’t exactly work together to produce superior pain-induced reactions. However, most of the rides in the Amusement Park expansion are completely destructible, and can produce absolutely wonderful outcomes. For example, there is a log flume ride near the center of the park. If you hang on to one of the logs long enough, it will run slowly and the vehicle will end up colliding with another vehicle. The result is that your character will be sandwiched between the two logs, which will then combust and completely disintegrate. It’s even funnier when there is someone inside, who is oblivious to your quest for pain and gets randomly catapulted across the park.
In addition to the environment, there are several new modes included in the expansion pack. Chief among these additional modes are two additional single-player modes. First up in is the Hot n’ Cold mode. This mode fills the amusement park with destructible teddy bears. There is one “it” teddy, and each one you hit will tell you whether you are “hotter” or “colder” to the chosen teddy. The second new mode is the Clown Toss, which is more of a reinterpretation of the Mime Toss from the original game, and involves catching a clown on a pogo stick and then flinging him into explosive crates that fill the level. Both of the new modes are significantly more challenging than the original single-player modes you’ve gotten used to. Still, they are both very satisfying for PAIN fans and will keep you playing this game for quite some time.
There are also new multiplayer modes to enjoy in PAIN: Amusement Park expansion. The first is Trauma, which is a variation of the Horse mode from the first level. While Horse challenged players to pick a target and try to get the highest score while hitting the target, Trauma has players picking a body part to hurt and seeing which player can get the highest score while sustaining the same initial injury. This is definitely a more challenging multiplayer mode because landing a hit specifically to your head or leg is a lot harder than it may sound.
The second multiplayer mode is Call da Shot, and consists of one player creating a list of two to four targets that the other player has to hit in one shot. This mode can be fun until, of course, the other player picks targets on opposite sides of the park. Then it can get a little frustrating. This is probably the most forgettable of all the new modes, and I found myself skipping this mode more often than not.
The best feature in the Amusement Park expansion pack has to be the new PAINLabs mode. This mode actually has nothing to do with the new stage and allows you to experience a brand new experimental PAIN stage every week. During launch week, the stage was comprised of three cinderblock towers with a few pedestrians and signs punctuating the barren landscape. Watching the ragdoll character physics interact with the cinderblock physics is definitely more fun then you might initially expect. These new “beta” levels will allow you to test out what the PAIN development team is working on for future releases and are a huge incentive to play this game beyond its usual two to three week play life.
In the technical department, PAIN does not really do anything to improve on the original game. The graphics and control are all exactly the same as they were in the original. The sound is basically the same as well, except for a few ambient sound additions around the park.
The Amusement Park expansion pack for PAIN feels more like a sequel than an expansion, as it somehow manages to include more content than the original game. The Amusement Park expansion is a must for those who already have the original PAIN, and, if you were vaguely interested in the title before, the Amusement Park expansion definitely makes it worthwhile. That is, if you can stand all the insane wipeouts!
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 3.8 Graphics
Not too much has changed since the original was released last year. Still, the graphics are great for what they are, and the impact physics are as pleasing as ever. 4.2 Control
Controls are super-easy to use and work very well, even while your hapless character is in flight. 3.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Voice acting is the same for every character as it was in the original, and most new level sounds are unnoticeable. 4.4 Play Value
Although there is only so much you can explore in the new stage, the new modes provide plenty of replay value, and the constantly updating PAINlabs will keep you coming back every week! 4.1 Overall Rating – Great
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.