I used to spend hour after hour playing Doom and its sequel on my parents' PC back in the 90s, so the Painkiller Hell and Damnation demo was like putting on a comfortable pair of boots. I had a lot of fun during the hour or so I had playing it.

 photo painkiller-main-01_zps0cf23468.jpgHaving been a console whore since I left the family PC behind me, I've not played the original two games (Painkiller and Painkiller: Battle Out Of Hell), and while it's officially a sequel, Painkiller Hell and Damnation is in essence a modern remake of the original games, with the bugs from last year's PC release ironed out. In a way I'm glad I came in with a fresh perspective and no preconceptions. The game's story follows on from the previous games: Death has once again recruited Daniel Garner (you) to gather souls for him - gather 7000 and you can see your dead wife again. So, you're given a big soul collecting gun and a shotgun, and told to be on your way. It's that simple. Shoot hellspawn - collect their souls.

There are some amazing guns on offer, and the few I got to try out felt very satisfying. The shotgun, while not my all time favourite weapon, packed one hell of a punch - but the king of guns has to go to the spinning retrievable projectile blade. I didn't catch its official name, so I'm going to call it "Spinny Death". Press one trigger on the controller, and it spins in your hand like a hand held blender, press the other and it shoots out in front of you unleashing spinny death on all who stand in its path. It was a lot of fun to use against the hordes of enemies that were constantly attacking me.

 photo spinny-death_zps98c12e3e.jpgThe enemies are as you'd expect from a game of this type - there are a few different classes, sometimes it's best to take them out from a distance, and some weapons are better suited for killing them than others. They tend to come in waves, and if you don't think fast on your feet, you'll soon find yourself overwhelmed.

Your energy only regenerates by collecting souls - and even then, it's at a rate of 1 soul = 1 energy point, so the challenge for the player is to survive until every abomination has been destroyed, and then move on to the checkpoint (where your health returns to a full 100 points). You can subsidise this by finding the armour hidden in the levels. Ammo, while not scarce, should be used wisely. I died quite a few times before sussing out that wasting my shotgun shells on minor enemies and then walking into a boss encounter with nary a shell in my pocket was probably not the best approach.

The build I played was far from the final product that's due to hit shelves at the end of May, but from what I did play, I can tell that opinion is going to be very much divided on Painkiller: Hell And Damnation. The similarities between the Doom and Quake franchise are impossible to ignore, even down to the ammo and armour pick-ups, which is by no means a bad thing. I'm just very aware that a lot of people these days need more of a narrative to their shooters (however flimsily plotted the current crop of "invade generic middle eastern country/shoot anything that moves/ignore the racism that's inherent in the scenario" fps games are). But I think these people might be missing the point of Painkiller Hell and Damnation. This is the type of game where you can just switch off parts of your brain, play the single or co-op campaign with a friend, and shoot monsters with your impressive guns. You can chat while you do it, you could even have it on in the background during a party. It's a tribute to the first person shooters that kicked the genre off. If you want an engaging story, there are plenty of games out there that can provide that. This one provides fun, old fashioned, shooty death.

Painkiller Hell and Damnation will be released on PS3 and Xbox 360 on May 31st 2013.