Televisions all across the globe have humans inflicting pain and injury upon each other every day. Martial arts, reality bloopers and viral videos fill the airwaves, and millions of viewers find enjoyment in this type of entertainment. The creative developers at Idol Minds know that some gamers crave the chance to inflict pain on others in creative ways and have brought us a PlayStation Network game that allows us to do just that. PAIN recently received a PlayStation Move update, so strap yourself in as we launch into this fantastic world of hurt.
PAIN was originally released in November 2007 with just one level and two playable characters, but thanks to free add-on content, paid DLC, Move support and 3D the game has expanded greatly over the last few years. PAIN has a very simple premise: strap the main protagonist, blithering idiot Jarvis, into a giant slingshot and launch him into any and everything possible in the game's expansive and destructible environments. Stages are filled with moving traffic, pedestrians, explosive boxes and all other kinds of things to wreak havoc with, with the amount of pain and destruction caused netting you points. It’s this simplicity, coupled with seeing Jarvis get smashed and mangled in all kinds of horrendous situations, that makes PAIN the kind of game to make you laugh out loud whilst playing.
To keep things moving there's a special move called an Ooch that allows players to nudge Jarvis once he's been launched and made impact. Once he comes to a complete stop the player's turn is over, but Ooch allows players to scoot around in front of moving vehicles, into explosive boxes or whatever possible to regain momentum and refill the Ooch meter as it decreases one letter per use. Once per launch by shaking the controller the Ooch meter will catch on fire granting the player a Super Ooch that can send Jarvis sliding a much farther distance than the normal Ooch. This can keep the pain coming long after the initial launch creating massive destruction and high scores to boot.
Successful launches sometimes just have to be seen again. PAIN does an excellent job with including a replay editor for gamers to edit the destruction they just created. This creates the urge for players to find new and creative ways to cause as much destruction as possible, reach for insane scores and hurt Jarvis as much as they possibly can because PAIN allows for replays to be uploaded to YouTube for the entire world’s sadistic pleasure.
All the chaos just wouldn’t seem as great if the game didn’t have superb physics, animations and sound effects. PAIN puts the Havoc engine to great use, Jarvis demonstrating great ragdoll effects as he bounces, flips and flops around the environments with good character animations and realistic physics. The environment comes to life with natural sound effects creating the feeling that the player is actually in a downtown metropolis as well as having great explosion and destruction effects after impact. Characters spout funny one-liner jokes and idiotic sayings that fit the crude humorous mood of the game perfectly.
Playstation Move brings a fresh gameplay element that fits perfectly with the simplistic approach found in PAIN. The standard DualShock controls allows player to adjust the height, angle and strength of the slingshot allowing for accurate launches, with the analogue stick minimally adjusting the flight prior to launch until impact. After impact takes place the D-Pad is used to Ooch until the turn is over while the analogue sticks control the camera. Move controls change things up, removing the slingshot altogether and replacing it with a hand in the centre of the screen, with a throwing motion sending Jarvis flying. Throwing feels right and the physics are dead-on as a hard throw will give a straight and fast throw, whilst a soft, lofty motion sends him looping high and slow. It’s not quite as accurate as the DualShock but is very much accurate enough for repeat use. After Jarvis is thrown the Ooch meter is immediately active with Move and by holding the T button and moving the Move controller in the direction desired Jarvis can Ooch in air to fine-tune his launch as well as continue Ooching as usual after impact. The only thing that can’t be done with Move compared to the DualShock is camera control., but in our play testing we barely noticed this feature was missing as the camera panned around where we needed it quickly without ever hindering game play. PlayStation Move adds such a unique element to the game it quickly became our preferred control scheme.
PAIN offers multiple game modes from single player to local and online multiplayer. The initial purchase grants access to the Downtown environment, containing multiple single player game types to explore. Paindemonium is the main solo mode where achieving the highest possible score in a single launch is the main goal, Fun with Explosives pushes gamers to make contact with as many explosive boxes as possible, and in Mime Toss players must find a mime floating in mid air, grab and throw him through windows. Spank the Monkey tasks players with, predictably, hitting monkeys: a successful hit spawns a new monkey in a harder to reach location, and smacking as many simians as possible is the aim of the game.
Idol Minds not only added Move support to existing game modes such as Paindemonium and Fun with Explosives but in Painamotion the developers have given us three new Move-exclusive modes to enjoy. Skeet X3 asks gamers to throw explosive boxes at an onslaught of oncoming objects; Mutha Chukka is very similar to Paindemonium, but instead of throwing Jarvis in the Downtown stage players will be throwing random objects at the environment. Occasionally random objects glow and, if hit, reward players with explosive boxes for increased damage and more total objects to be thrown. Once the player runs out of objects from missed throws, the total score stands and its game over. Darts is PAIN's version of darts and is multiplayer only, but don’t worry single players – it can be played with one controller and two people aren’t actually necessary to enjoy. There are two modes of play, 301 and Baseball, with 301 being the standard darts where both players throw three throws until one player reaches zero winning the match. In Baseball one player, the batter, throws at either a bullseye or a designated area on the board that resembles the inning number. The second player then throws bombs at the batter to stop the hits from counting for that inning, with the game alternating turns between players as a baseball game would. This is the only mode where the Move controls feel off somewhat, as the accuracy in throwing and where the darts hit isn’t as accurate as it should be. Even with that said, it’s still good fun and worth playing with a friend for laughs.
Local multiplayer modes consist of Fun with Explosives, Horse and Bowling. Horse is the same concept as playing Horse in Basketball where one player launches into the environment and whatever object is hit is marked for the second player to try to make contact with. If missed the player who misses gets a letter and the other player throws to mark a new spot, and whoever misses enough to acquire all the letters in Horse loses the match. Bowling is worth the price of admission alone: simply fling characters from the slingshot and into giant bowling pins. It's ten frames a game just as in actual bowling and every bit as fun if not more, with realistic pin physics and enough depth to make it worth learning the ropes. Move isn’t usable with Horse or Bowling for precision reasons but the DualShock works wonderfully and having a friend to bowl with will ensure hours of fun.
Wrapping up the other modes is online, consisting of Horse, Bowling and Fun with Explosives. 3D is a free download that brings with it Alien Toss, essentially Mime Toss with an extra-terrestrial. Ice Breaker is a massive castle formed out of ice blocks: players leap into a floating explosive box and throw it into the castle and detonate it on impact over and over until the castle is completely demolished, with the fewest amount of turns giving the highest score. It’s worth noting that both of these modes are playable without 3D, and that the majority of all the modes in PAIN are 3D capable. Last but not least is Painlabs which is a beta of sorts that is regularly updated by the developers that gives gamers a new playground or experiment to fool around with. Move is enabled here, with the content veering between so-so and enjoyable, with the best of Painlabs available to purchase as downloadable content.
PAIN has come a long way since its initial release nearly three years ago. At launch the game had relatively limited replay value that wore thin within a few hours, but there's now many modes available with the initial purchase as well as tons of downloadable content ranging from multiple new environments, game play modes and characters to inflict pain on. Playstation Move brings with it new game play modes and a fantastic new style of playing and is highly recommended.