Platform: Playstation 3
In Europe, we've had to wait nearly four months for a shot of Pain. While PS3 owners in the US have been enjoying Pain since November, those of us without a US PSN account have been forced to do without. Luckily, the PAL version of the PSN store should (fingers crossed) have it up and ready for download around the time you read this. What's more, the finished product makes the misery of waiting just about worthwhile.
Don't worry - you don't have to be a masochist to enjoy this kind of Pain. Truth be told, you have to be a little sadistically inclined. Here's the setup. Take a bite-sized portion of a living city, with a small population going about its business, police cars and heavy trucks driving down the streets, buildings under construction and an overland train running through. Next sprinkle generously with exploding crates. Now manufacture a catapult in a nearby building site, and use it to fire an irritating youth at anything that might explode, collapse, fall down or run him over. Remember while you're at it that hitting some objects will make them move, and as a result cause a kind of chain reaction of destruction. Finally, sit back and watch what happens, grimacing and cackling at the results, then try and work out new ways of causing mayhem. In short, Pain is a bit like Burnout's Crash mode but with people and large, man-made structures instead of cars and buses. Think Jackass on the scale of Apocalypse Now and you're just about getting the picture.
The secret to the game's success is that the city environment is absolutely packed with buildings, vehicles, windows, potentially dangerous billboard displays and people, and that everything is modelled in a very robust implementation of the Havok physics engine. The ragdoll mechanics of your human missile are enough to make you wince, but it's the way he then interacts with scaffolding, oversized bowling balls, mime artists, old ladies with zimmer frames, speeding taxis, monkeys and just about everything else that will really make you whistle through your teeth and mutter ‘ow!' What's more, once all these objects start interacting with each other, it gets really pretty gnarly. An exploding crate sends you flying into scaffolding, knocking down a metal container that lands in the street in the path of a truck. Before you know it, things are going bang all over the shop and - look - isn't that the poor mime artist caught right up in the middle? It's lucky that Pain has an excellent replay mode; you'll want to see the unfolding bedlam from a range of different angles and study each clip with care.