Here Comes The...

PAIN offers some juvenile kicks, but ultimately feels a bit too thin for the money.
Author: Sam Bishop
Published: December 6, 2007
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Sony has done plenty to position the PlayStation Network as something of a fourth platform for their games. Yes, for the most part the stuff offered here is only available through a PS3, but rather than just throwing a bunch of mini-games or wafer-thin concepts up (though those certainly exist too), they've tried to strike a balance with full-blooded offerings such as Warhawk (and to a lesser extent, Gran Turismo 5 Prologue).

PAIN, then, lies at the other end of the spectrum - a $10 game that attempts to nail one or two things and leaves it at that. It is by no means a full disc-level game, but then it's priced accordingly. Unfortunately, with only one level and two playable characters, plus the stench of unnecessary downloadable content, that $10 doesn't really go as far as it should.

Don't get me wrong, there's fun to be had here, as evidenced by the fact that the first time I fired the game up, I blinked and three hours had gone by without me even realizing it. Clearly the game sates some deep need to watch a ragdoll character go flying into an oncoming train before being blasted back to a construction site filled with explosive boxes, because the game was indeed satisfying for the first playthrough. Successive ones, however, started to show the game's lack of variety.

If you haven't picked up on it by now (or didn't read our preview of the game's initial showing), the object of PAIN is to send a character flying off a human-sized crossbow out into a fully interactive world. By using the left analog stick to guide the character around post-launch, you can get them into the various nooks and crannies of the game world to cause more mayhem. Launch into a giant bowling ball atop a bowling alley, for instance, and you can pull down the precariously positioned pin-killer down to the monorail track below, causing the train to derail which in turn causes a massive pileup. While soaring through the air, you can hold the L1 and L2 Buttons to pose a little, and using the face buttons otherwise will let you reach up, down, left and right.

It's what you do once your flight comes to an end that is PAIN's biggest draw, though. While tumbling and ragdolling around, you can use the d-pad to nudge your character with an unseen hand so long as you've still got room in your "Ooch" meter, which fills anytime your character hits something. By shaking the SIXAXIS, you can build up a Super-Ooch which exerts a bit more force once per launch. With the judicious use of Ooch, you can keep your character flopping around long after you've hit the ground, nudging them into boxes or helping to continue momentum as you kiss pavement.

It's meant to help players that get their character juuuuust shy of hitting an explosive box or something, but it can be pretty readily abused right from the get-go by just flopping your character back and forth between the lanes on one of the two main streets in the level. This jacks up the multiplier so high that after a few minutes, nailing the 1.5 million points needed to unlock the Aftermath variant of the main level is cake.

It's a shame too because PAIN isn't really a bad game, it just needs another level or two to really feel like a proper game rather than a $10 tech demo with a bunch of trophies thrown in to simulate some kind of unlockable system. Even the other modes, which include flying out and tagging monkeys scattered all over the level or grabbing a mime and flinging them through plate glass sheets don't really do much to distract from the main PAINdemonium Mode.
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