The Punisher PS2 Review
It’s time for another comic book video game but this time with a twist. This time it won’t be off a movie adaptation but rather it will use all comic book references and it’s better that it doesn’t refer to the movie at all. That’s right, The Punisher movie lead to disappointing box office sales and critics loved to bash it just because they could. Even though I did find moments I did enjoy from the movie, it never did live up to what the comic book portrays of the Punisher. The Punisher is supposed to be cruel and unforgiving so I found it fitting that Volition did quite well with putting together a video game representing him nicely.
If you didn’t know, Volition has developed some quality video games in the past. Starting with the Freespace, they made a name for themselves right off the bat. A follow up sequel served to be rather proficient too. What Volition received the most recognition for would be the first-person shooter series, Red Faction. The first became quite a hit quickly while the second Red Faction was a little lackluster but still upheld with sales. Other than that, Volition has had their hand with the Summoner role-playing games which aren’t too shabby either.
The storyline of The Punisher is based off the comic books instead of the movies like I have stated before. Throughout your journey to get revenge you’ll meet up with many Punisher characters like the Russian, Nick Fury from SHIELD, Black Widow and other cameos packed into the story. The story has been written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Garth Ennis (Punisher creators) so it was up to Volition to get the visuals right to have a lethal combination of great storytelling.
The basic gameplay resembles Max Payne at its core. You’ll be moving The Punisher throughout the levels terrorising anyone that steps in your path with a wide selection of guns. From the start though only a few are available (like pistols, shotguns and even bats) but when you continuously move onto the next levels, a wider range of weapons become available. I must say, duel wielding with shotguns has never been this fun. If you do get yourself in a sticky situation with being out numbered and they have a hostage in their arms, you are able to enter a precise aim mode to pick off the enemies without harming the hostage.
If you want to be 100% the most viscous Punisher ever seen, you can enter Slaughter Mode when you have taken enough damage to fill up your bar and go on a killing spree with throwing knives that never miss. Slaughter Mode gives you the opportunity to even up the odds when you are outnumbered. Slaughter Mode does have a downfall with the screen turning into black and white and the visibility of the level is a little hard to pick apart.
The most important feature of the game is the interrogation system they have applied upon the gameplay. You can interrogate anyone in the game that stands in your way of wrecking havoc. Some have vital details (white skulls are placed above their heads) while some seem to have no clue about what their day job really is. Simple interrogations consist of punching the enemy to death, choking them, slamming them into the ground or pointing a gun at their head. There are special spots in a level where unique interrogations are available such as sticking one’s head under a ban saw if they don’t rat out their friends. You’ll have full control over the interrogation with a bar that you must even out in the middle to make them squeal. Think of this kind of like the bars in basketball games where you want the ball in the middle of the select area to make the basket. If you go overboard, you’ll kill the enemy (which is always the best way to finish them off since they will be killed anyways) or if you don’t put fear in them, they won’t say a word. The interrogation system happens to be the best and most innovative feature that makes people come back for more.
The Punisher does have great looking graphics. The character models are well represented and look like what I would have imagined the characters to be portrayed as. The lack of cinematic cut scenes does take away from my full enjoyment of the game as they did a splendid job with the opening cinematic that none of the others really live up to that moment. They did have some repetitive character models for the enemies so you might think you are killing the same character over and over again in and throughout the same level. All the effects in the game improve on the game and don’t take anything away. If you shoot the enemy in the leg, you’ll see the bullet hole in his leg. Miss a hundred shots with the uzi, you can see the shots on the back of the wall, demonstrating how bad you missed. Slaughter Mode has its own effect with turning into black and white to have its own personal feel to it. Overall, the graphics are on par with what everything else is doing this generation.
Voice acting is the best area covered in the sound and music division of the game. Thomas Jane is back from the movie and voices Frank Castle perfectly. Too bad he didn’t get the type of lines that are used in the game to act in the movie. All the main characters are voiced nicely but I must say that some lines are repeated over and over again by the henchmen when interrogating them. The audio brings a sense of comedy to the game and it’s a joy to listen to Frank and the enemies bicker between one another. The audio doesn’t detract from the overall experience but adds a lot of fun to playing the game.
On easy mode, it is way too easy so make sure you avoid that difficulty. It will take more than one sitting to go through the campaign and live out all the moments that make Frank Castle forever famous. There are unlockables like cut-scenes, character art, and movies so there are options that you could come back to play through another level. For the most part, if you love the Punisher and the story, you will be playing your favorite levels over again. Add in that you can buy upgrades for the Punisher, you will want to make sure you have the “ultimate” Punisher to traverse through the levels and kill everything in your path.
Volition’s target audience for The Punisher is for those who love action and of course all the comic book fans of the series. Volition hit the mark with what they were trying to accomplish as I was totally entertained with my full play through of The Punisher. You will either hate this to death for all the violence or you will love it for the violence. Whichever side of the fence you stand on though, The Punisher sure does step it up a notch to make sure Frank Castle is portrayed correctly.