Those gamers amongst us who are a bit older will probably remember the original Postal, an enormously violent game which managed to catapult the discussions concerning violence in games to new heigths. No need to say that the game got banned in no less than 10 countries, thankfully not in Belgium. Postal 2 is now trying to do the same seeing that the extra media attention results in higher sales figures. Time for some brainless ass-whipping it is !
The Postal storyline is simple : you take on the role of a deadbeat who completely freaks out after he gets fired as a postman. In Postal 2 you take on the life of this madman for one week. Although the developers claim you can complete this game without wasting one drop of blood, I personally wouldn’t have a clue how you can get out of certain situation without shooting at everything that moves.
You’ll probably wonder what types of missions the guys from Running with Scissors could come up with for a game like this, but they managed pretty well by having extremely simple goals which you have to complete ending up in total chaos. To give you just one example, in the first mission – also the demo mission – you need to get a can of milk. You need to get this at the local drug store, after which you get treated on a couple of bullets by the owner. Of course because we didn’t want to pay for the milk…
In Postal 2 you can expect the unexpected. You’ll get to see that the library where you wanted to return your book to just got burnt down by some nature extremists. All through the game you’ll see these types of links with real life, protest against violent games, … in short: all ingredients for an original game are present, but how does Postal 2 hold up for the rest ?
Let’s start with the loading times. These days we see loads of games that manage to load a full town in a relatively short time; Mafia, The Getaway, … Postal 2 however doesn’t. Each time you go to another part of the town, you’ll get treated at a loading time of at least 30 seconds. If loading like this happens about two or three times in a full map, that’s acceptable. However, if you have to load four times in only one mission, the fun starts to flow away.
Postal promised to be a game of unseen graphics and the fact that Running with Scissors decided to use the Unreal Warfare engine made it look like the promise could be kept. Unfortunately, all is not like it was said to be. Certain textures look like those of games from four years ago at some times. The models on the other hand fortunately look very detailed and have realistic movement due to the motion capturing which was used.
Interaction with objects is obsolete; ff you’re on fire, you can extinguish the fire by peeing in the air while jumping into a fountain does nothing, cars can be blown up but only by two bullets in the front. This has more to do with balancing of course, but that’s also something which could have been done better. A citizen of Postal can take on 20 bullets from a machine gun, but you’ll have him down faster with a pistol as that will need only two shots. The most effective (and fun) weapon is a jerrycan; one nicely placed tactical stripe of gasoline and a well-timed throw of a match and you’ll have the complete town band being torched.
Bad balancing and weak AI are always very close to each other and it’s no different here: civilians who rather walk in the line of fire than sign my petition, people who are distressed after they run against a wall,…
The soundtrack fortunately tries to make up with all the bad things we’ve mentioned before. It’s very well-done.
De panic from townspeople who see their own deaths before their eyes is very realistic and contributes to a good atmospheric feeling. Same goes for the voice-acting which is cool and hilarious with a very high “Duke Nukem”-feel that integrates beautifully in this game.
In short, Postal 2 is brainless fun for young and old… but not for long. The game bores pretty fast and that’s mostly because of the long loading times that irritate the hell out of you. Also the significant amount of bugs make Postal 2 an unfinished game. The humour-level on the other hand makes up for a lot.
One advise: be sure to play the demo before deciding whether or not to buy the full game.