Review by akuma634
One of the most creative and underrated FPS games of the 2000's
I will never understand why this game gets as much hate as it does. It came out as a 20 dollar budget title made by a studio in Arizona that consists of around 30 something people and its the second game they've made. With what little they had to work with, they managed to create a very original first person shooter in a genre built on stealing ideas from the top games of the genre. For every Halo, Call Of Duty, and Half-Life, there are countless games that will steal those concepts and never come close to being half as good. Postal 2 was made on the Unreal 2004 engine and it did everything different and that's something that a lot of people don't seem to give them any credit for. Running With Scissors doesn't have several million dollars to spend on music or voice acting so obviously you shouldn't just compare it to these games with Hollywood movie budgets so you can pass Postal 2 off as trash. I think this is one of the best FPS games of the decade and I'll do my best to explain why.
Graphics - 8/10
For the time being these were pretty decent graphics. Character models have enough variety and the bodies are built to for things like decapitations or exploding heads. In the Apocalypse Weekend expansion and the AW7 mod for it, they've added full on dismemberment which was very awesome. Everything looks solid, nothing ugly and nothing that will blow your mind. They really did a great job of taking Unreal technology and building a game that looks totally one of a kind. The world itself looks good too, there's lots of houses with different furniture set ups, lots of shops, and different buildings made for missions. The guns and melee weapons are also nice to look at and do have cool animations when firing. One of the really interesting features is the liquid physics which I don't really see in many games. The main use is when you get a gas can, you can do all sorts of things with it. You can make a gas trail as elaborate as you want, toss a match, and watch everything go up in flames. You can pour gas on anything and create a huge fire and cars are great to create death traps out of. The other use is urine, you can unzip your pants and pee on anything whenever you want which is always good for a laugh. I think the main reason was to pee on yourself to put out fires but it's much more fun to run around to see how people react to your indecent exposure and pee on them when they mock you. Also the urine effect is very natural looking and it splashes when it hits a surface. Also fire does look really good, when you start a fire, it follows your gas trail which is always fun to watch. Overall everything looks nice enough.
Control - 9/10
The first thing to mention is the shooting. Every gun is very simple to use and there is no recoil or anything to make it harder to get a precise shot off. The sniper rife is the only gun that really requires more skill to use since it has the old Metal Gear Solid effect where you need to keep it steady. You can fire any gun and it will hit dead on and hit like it should. The handgun is very precise but weaker than the big guns. The AK-47 is great for taking down large groups or just going on a rampage. Then there's big stuff like the rocket launcher which is perfect for boss fights and has a heat seeking option. The real star of the game are the melee weapons. The easiest to find is the shovel which is great for beheading. Every melee weapon (and there are a lot more in mods and the expansion pack) hits differently and always is easy to hit with. The movement is what you would expect, the standard ASDW movement. You can also crouch which is mostly used to sneak around which is great when you need a stealthy escape. There is a kick button which opens doors faster, kicks people, and best of all you can kick a grenade back at someone. Peeing and pouring gas work the same general way and feel very precise. Thrown weapons also work great, grenades can be thrown right where you need them, you can drop then for a delayed blast or kick a dropped grenade for a further launch. There are other things like Molotov bottles, scissors, a cow head soaked in anthrax, and more. Every weapon works perfect from a stun gun to the cow head. It's just great fast control for any shooter. There is also some platforming which works perfect with the controls. You never feel held back by the controls and you can always move through and jump where you need to be without dying from control issues.
Gameplay - 9/10
Postal 2 is a first person shooter but it's also a sandbox game. Like most sandbox games you start in a fairly small area with a lot of other sections blocked off until you progress further into the game's story. You play from Monday to Friday (and the weekend in the expansion) and each day you get a check list of things you need to do. It always sounds simple like on Monday you need to pick up your paycheck, cash the check, and buy milk. In that one day you get fired from Running With Scissors and violent anti-videogame protesters storm the studio. The bank gets robbed (or you can rob the bank and fight an onslaught of cops,) and the convenience store has a huge line so you can wait or shoplift (and fight the store owner.) Each day gets more dangerous than the last and the objectives take you all over the town of Paradise, Arizona. You always have a choice in Postal 2 and you can beat the entire game without killing or hurting anyone. A lot of the game is built around trying to drive the player into going postal like rude NPC's, long lines, muggers, and crazy events. Also with the weapon selection, the game really is only as violent as you want it to be. The handgun and AK-47 spill blood, the shotgun makes heads explode, shovels and other weapons can get very gruesome, and so on. The goal is to complete your daily errands as you see fit and then more of the city is opened up as you progress. Also the missions get really funny too, one of my favorite sections of the game is the mall where on Tuesday you get to meet Garry Coleman and there is all kinds of funny stuff you can do with the late former child star.
In the sandbox aspect of the game, you really can do whatever you want. There are consequences like going on homicidal rampages will get the cops after you and some civilians might be armed but unlike a lot of games like GTAIV, crimes aren't really crimes unless there is a witness. You can murder people and get away with it as long as people don't see it and or course shooting dozens of people and blowing up cars gets a lot of attention. One of my favorite things is that every building in the game can be fully explored with no restrictions aside from places you haven't yet unlocked or restricted areas (like in the police station where you will be in for a fight if you go to those places.) As you would expect, you can kill anyone in the entire game even cats and dogs if you so choose. You can also give dogs treats to follow you and fight with you. Also there is fun dog trick where you if cut someone's head off and kick it, a friendly dog will play fetch with the head. The free roaming aspect really adds to a lot of the replay value of the game. Also one more thing about the missions is that they can be completed in any order and whenever you feel like it. It's just a list so you aren't timed or pressured into doing anything. It's just what a sandbox game should be like.
One of the more creative aspects of the game is platforming which is kind of similar to Half-Life but different in a lot of ways. There are a few levels that are more centered around platforming. One is a library where the building is set on fire and you have to escape. It has several scripted sequences like enemies coming out of specific areas or flaming book cases falling to block a path. The tough platforming stages are a nuclear plant on a meltdown and escaping a brewery. They have lots of stuff like conveyor belts with large machines that can kill you easily or walking along the edge of a vat full of deadly hot chemicals. The expansion pack has more levels like that too. Postal 2 actually did a great job of making first person platforming fun and making it work. Games like Mirrors Edge managed to make it frustrating in more ways than fun but for Postal 2, they do a much better job of letting you pick the most logical path, having less ways to die instantly, and being able to save anywhere makes it a lot easier. These stages are really intense with parts of the level falling apart, exploding, and finding new paths. Also like a lot of games there are some bugs and glitches (nearly all have been fixed in patches) but if your character is stuck the game actually knows this and pops you out automatically which I have never seen any other game that does that.
Sound - 7/10
This is the weakest aspect of the game. There isn't much in the way of music, mostly since this is the only the second game these guys made so they haven't really mastered game music yet. The sound effects of weapons and attacks do sound as you would expect and there are some awesome gore sounds from beheading to exploding heads. The voice work is better than a lot of indie games. Generally there's a good variety of NPC voices from civilians to cops, to enemy factions, and even the creators of the game. The real star is The Postal Dude who has a lot to say and plenty of voice variety that doesn't get old. He comments on scripted events, buying stuff, and of course great one liners in battle. There are a lot of lines when going on a rampage and one of the best is where he says something after each shot like This one's for your mother. This one's for the pope. This one's for little Jimmy. This one's for bobo the space monkey. This one's because I have one bullet left." There are some variations on that too.
Humor - 10/10
The main thing RWS says about their Postal games is that it isn't about violence, it's about the humor. Postal 2 is a social satire, a wacky comedy, and it has a lot of lowbrow humor. This is something very rare for the FPS genre, a sense of humor instead of dead serious characters with a dark gritty past who shoot people in a series of gray and black rooms. There is humor everywhere from what the random civilians say in any given situation to the scripted events. A lot of fun can be had by stealing a police uniform and wearing it. You can do a lot of bad things and people will say stuff like "Attica!" or "If I had a camera I'd be rich right now!" The other cops will tolerate a lot but they will tell you to be less public with the brutality. The Dude also has a lot of cop lines like "somebody spilled my doughnuts and now you're all going to pay!" There is also a lot of very gross humor and sight gags in the game. Since it is a big city and there are stray animals on the streets, you will see plenty of dog poop on the streets and unflushed public toilets. There is always something funny going on in Postal 2 and if you have a sense of humor then you will love this game. If you're a fan of stuff like Beavis & Butt-Head, Ren & Stimpy, and/or Trailer Park Boys then this game has your sense of humor. If you're really uptight and politically correct then you will hate Postal 2.
Fun - 10/10
Do you like open words where you can become a one man army? Do like humor in your games? Do you like games that you can take your time and play at your own leisure? If so then Postal 2 is one of the more fun games you can play and the best thing of all is that Postal 2: Share The Pain has been freeware since 2009. I really don't see how any gamer can not have any fun with Postal 2 because there is something for everyone to enjoy.
Overall - 9/10
I honestly do think that Postal 2 is one of the most creative and innovative FPS games of the 2000's. Sure it doesn't have 20 million dollars to spend to make it look and sound like Halo but that doesn't take away from the experience. You can get the game for free or buy the Postal Fudge Pack for around 15-30 dollars which has Postal 1, Postal 2: Share The Pain, Apocalypse Weekend, the AW7 mod which adds all the weekend features to Postal 2 and gives you all 7 levels together, and the Eternal Damnation fan mod which is a fantastic horror game and it was featured in the 2010 indie horror movie Sella Turcica which was made by the infamous makers of August Underground's Mordum. Free or 15 bucks for a box set, you're call but it's a hell of an experience either way. This is really one of the best made indie games in years and it's a FPS that is actually different. If anything just make up your own mind about the game, play it for free and see what you think before reading a "professional" review that played the game for 15 minutes and slapped on a 2/10.
Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Product Release: Postal 2 (US, 04/14/03)
Got Your Own Opinion?
Submit a review and let your voice be heard.