Mixed or average reviews - based on 33 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 33
  2. Negative: 2 out of 33
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  1. Play Magazine
    As a first-person shooter, Painkiller flat out excels, crucifying nearly all comers on Xbox. [Jun 2006, p.47]
  2. An excellent mix of intense first person shooting combined with a sophisticated risk-reward system that actually integrates into the gameplay. The Tarot cards are pure genius and add a whole new level to the genre.
  3. AceGamez
    If you're a Quake fan or crave a seriouser Serious Sam, this is one trip to hell you'll certainly want to take again and again.
  4. With forebodingly scary levels, huge end bosses and plenty of enjoyably hellacious, gory FPS gameplay, Painkiller: Hell Wars has enough quality features to blaze a fiery path into the Xbox library of shooter aficionados as it is one of the most devilishly pleasurable FPS titles on the Xbox.
  5. It's the equivalent of gaming junk food, a fast-moving blast-a-thon that doesn't let up throughout its 20-plus levels. While the frame rate stutters from time to time and some levels appear to be missing, what remains is still quite the ride.
  6. Some technical performance issues and the passing of time make this version of the game less remarkable now than the original was when it was released, but Painkiller: Hell Wars is still a fun and viscerally satisfying shooter that has a lot to offer.
  7. The combination of a single player game that is deep in levels and even deeper with enemies, solid multiplayer offerings, slim Xbox pickings, all rolled up into a $40, makes this a game that deserves a look on down the line.
  8. Game Informer
    It's a little unfair--there are certainly plenty of gamers who lack the gaming PC to play the original--but at the same time it's hard to get excited about a port of a game that is exactly the same as the one I played a year ago. [Oct. 2006, p.106]
  9. The other big reason for shooter fans to check this game out is because of the online multiplayer, which is surprisingly well done.
  10. A good, no brainer shooter which should appeal to anyone that likes no nonsense gaming. There's no tactics or strategy which means gamers of all skills can get stuck right into running around gunning down hell spawn.
  11. Blood, gore and lots of body parts make up ninety percent of this game and for this kind of an FPS, it should. This game is a nice little shooter that shouldn't be passed over without being given a second glance.
  12. It is fast-paced, in your face action non-stop. You'll never have a breather when you battle the onslaught of enemies before you. The translation from PC to Xbox is smooth enough to warrant playing the Xbox version over the PC rendition to avoid using a keyboard.
  13. For those looking for a mindless, fun romp through some of the creepiest environments you'll come across, killing everything in sight with some great tunes and distinctive weapons, Painkiller could be just what you're looking for.
  14. 75
    We were also dismayed at how quickly the game lost its appeal; a few levels of the same old, same old and we were ready to call it quits. Beyond a few interesting boss fights, it rarely strays from its simplistic "kill everything and move on" formula.
  15. Painkiller will cater to fans that want their action simple and lightning-quick. The weapon selection is limited but versatile, while the body count is astonishingly high right out of the gate.
  16. The game does away with all the complications presented by other FPS shooters and lets players just duke it out for dear life.
  17. There are games that stand out, and then there are games that are just good. Painkiller doesn't really break any new ground, but it presents an experience that was satisfying throughout.
  18. Official Xbox Magazine
    Hell wars doesn't promise any particular greatness, but for a quick $30 FPS thrill-ride, it'll do nicely. [July 2006, p.85]
  19. In terms of gameplay, it truly doesn't get any simpler than this, nor the pace more frantic. It's a fragfest to be sure and if you can dig that, you might find Painkiller: Hell Wars to be a fitting end to the Xbox era.
  20. A great stress reliever that has a strong pace never lets up. If slaughtering demons with a host of deadly weapons set on full throttle sounds like fun, then you will have a great time with Painkiller: Hell Wars.
  21. A pared down meat-and-potatoes shooter, heavy on visceral mayo and lite on the rest of the fixings. High fidelity to its PC forebears, putting you in a vegetative killing state with interspersed spikes of adrenaline.
  22. While there is an online multiplayer element, good luck getting into a match. I could never find anyone online to play with, and I imagine that's pretty much how it will always be.
  23. The single player campaign is tedious, ugly, and loads like its on the PSP. The swan song of the Xbox this is not.
  24. 60
    There's some frame-skipping when things get really frantic, which is often, but it doesn't murder the experience.
  25. 60
    Painkiller: Hell Wars can be compared to a 10k marathon. You think it's a good idea at the time, but around mile three, you actually start questioning your own judgment.
  26. If you're looking for a shooter on the Xbox, there are countless others that are more involving than this one. The gameplay in Painkillers: Hell Wars has been out of style for a decade.
  27. 60
    Innovation isn't the point here. It's just flat out fun (in a messy, bloody sort of way). This is a fantastic and enjoyable way to blow off some steam, shoot tons of baddies, and, ultimately, satisfy the bloodlust that strikes the best of us.
  28. While some gamers may see the simplicity as a downside, others may enjoy the fact that it's mindless. I'm on the fence – I enjoy deep gameplay, but sometimes if the game is fun I don't want to be bothered with finding keys or jumping over pits. Painkiller is just plain fun.
  29. This is simply "Serious Sam" with a few undead Nazis thrown in. Have at.
  30. 52
    While the game has plenty of action, it gets old fast. Enemies are mindless and prefer attacks that involve charging directly at the player. Level designs lack variety and quickly get repetitive. Tarot cards and multiplayer modes help to give Painkiller a little depth, but ultimately it's a boring game.
  31. Painkiller: Hell Wars is the very definition of a mindless kill-crazy rampage, and while simple experiences certainly have their place, the time this game spent in development purgatory seems to have made even the high points feel limp.
  32. I like my FPS shooters to deliver a single-player experience too, and Painkiller: Hell Wars flatly fails in that regard. If you're looking for online deathmatch, Painkiller: Hell Wars is a reasonable purchase, but don't expect anything from the single-player experience, particularly, enjoyment.
  33. 40
    Only the most desperate deathmatch champion will get their money's worth out of this purgatorial port.

Awards & Rankings

#21 Most Discussed Xbox Game of 2006
#4 Most Shared Xbox Game of 2006
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 19 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 19
  2. Negative: 3 out of 19
  1. AlBacore
    Sep 29, 2006
    Unbelievably bad....words can't describe how disappointed I was at this mindless, multiple enemy overkill FPS. The game itself ran fast, Unbelievably bad....words can't describe how disappointed I was at this mindless, multiple enemy overkill FPS. The game itself ran fast, but the poor graphics and detail likely helped this along. The level design was sub-par and it felt like the game took place in that "maze" screensaver for PC's. Possibly the worst FPS I have played. Full Review »
  2. Andyman
    Aug 19, 2006
    Painkiller: Hell Wars is clearly a game designed for a multiplayer experience. Every single level in the game has a "no escape" feel to it... Painkiller: Hell Wars is clearly a game designed for a multiplayer experience. Every single level in the game has a "no escape" feel to it... great for deathmatch, but gets old extremely fast in single-player. The gameplay is very tight, but I'd like to see a lot more variety here. It's basically Doom For Dummies. Full Review »
  3. Pitchshifter
    Aug 11, 2006
    If you want a really boring and bland shooter pick this up, very repetitive and mindless. i thought Darkwatch was a lot better at least more If you want a really boring and bland shooter pick this up, very repetitive and mindless. i thought Darkwatch was a lot better at least more interesting. Full Review »