The Average Gamer

Shooter Round-Up: COD: Black Ops 2, Painkiller, District 187 and Hounds

Here’s the shooter edition of our gamescom roundups. In a world where Battlefield, Ghost Recon and Medal of Honor all seem to be turning into one amorphous blob of shooty quadcopter drones in a greeny-greyish setting, it’s easy to overlook the smaller specialist titles, like Call of Duty.

Call of Duty: Black Ops 2

The multiplayer changes to Call of Duty: Black Ops II are something I’ve been hoping for, for a very long time. The new system will earn two different types of points; “score” and XP. Whenever you achieve something that helps the team objective, you get score, which is a nice boost for people like me who tackle objective and maybe aren’t so good at the headshots.

A new multiplayer mode was revealed: Hardpoint, a king-of-the-hill style mode where you fight to capture an hold a control point that respawns in a new place every few minutes. We were also shown the new CodCast system to support eSports broadcasting. I won’t go into details but you can watch the demo from Activisions’s internal blogger and community manager, Dan Amrich.

Treyarch are also adding a ranking system that uses your performance over the past few matches to match you with gamers of the same level – presumably their version of Microsoft’s TrueSkill. I conclusively proved how desperately this is needed by getting my ass kicked repeatedly by the gamers that had queued for hours to play two matches :(

Painkiller: Hell and Damnation

In 2004, Polish developers People Can Fly created a manic shooter called Painkiller. It was known for its diverse environments and steadfast refusal to recycle monsters across levels. The game spawned 5 expansion packs, the most recent of which was released only last February. People Can Fly went on to develop BulletStorm.

Now another Polish developer, The Farm 51, is remaking Painkiller for current technology. And by technology we mean graphics, of course. It looks fantastically gorey and has a host of new weapons to choose from. The Farm 51 want a return to the “old” FPS days of fast-paced shooting, and plenty of violence. They’ve added in cosmetic changes like breakable urns in the graveyard setting, but really its about the guns, many of which will be familiar to players of the original game.

Each weapon has a secondary fire system for extra splatter – the shotgun can freeze your enemies, then destroy them with the primary shot. The stake gun also fires grenades. There’s even a tertiary fire mode that combines both – a spinning saw disc thrower combines with its secondary lightning power to create an effective lightning mine.

The campaign can be played either solo or co-op. As protagonist Daniel Garner, you’re recruited by Death to harvest souls because for some reason, Daniel is an abomination who should have died a thousand time. At least, that’s what Death claims.

You’ll probably want to cover your ears at some of the dialogue. Here’s a snippet from their original meeting:

Daniel: How can I be sure you’re not lying, like the others.

Death: There are only 2 things that are certain in life and you’re talking to one of them.

Daniel: And you’re not the tax collector.

Like I said, it’s about the guns.

Painkiller: Hell and Damnation is aiming for an October release on PC and early 2013 for the PS3. You can sign up for more information on the Painkiller website.

District 187: Sin Streets

Another free-to-play shooter will be entering the market later this year. Does it have what it takes to stand out against Planetside 2, Team Fortress Mann vs Machine and Tribes Ascend? I don’t know. It looks nice, I guess?

The premise is Gangsters vs SWAT. Or as we all remember from the playground, Cops and Robbers. A city has gone to the dogs, gangsters run riot everywhere, blah blah blah, lets get out there and shoot each other. Here, watch the gameplay trailer.

It plays like a fast-paced shooter but the meta-game means it’s really an MMO-ish hybrid, a little like Global Agenda but without the PvE. You can run around the city and jump into instances for the 8 vs 8 battles, or one of the other 5 game modes. The real draw here is bragging rights. Unlike COD where you can grind your way to the higher levels, in District 187 there will only ever be a limited number of players above level 10. Only two players at a time will ever be level 15. Stay offline too long and other players will knock you out of the top spot.

As is the way with free-to-play, CJ Games Global are hoping that people will want to spent money on customisation options to make their character look unique. There are no female character models in the game yet but that’s something they’re looking into for post-launch.

District 187 will start its closed beta on 11th September. Sign up on the Sin Streets website for your invitation.


Based on the same engine as District 187, Hounds is will have a third-person viewpoint and much more co-operative style. There’s little to show so far from this free-to-play game but you can play single or co-op unlocking new regions of the city as you go. You’ll play as the Hounds, an elite team progressing through the world in search of survivors from a plague. Probably a zombie plague. Certainly looks that way from the trailer.

This game will be much more MMO-ish, with guild halls, crafting, PvP and PvE modes and skills driven by weapon and armour slots. There are no classes – equip a shield in your secondary weapon slot and you’re now the team’s tank. Carry big guns and you’re expected to deal most of the damage. The flexibility is nice but we’ll have to wait for quite a while to see if it makes things more fun.

Hounds is aiming for a 2014 release.

*Yes, I was joking about COD