Review by Soliduous

Reviewed: 06/29/03 | Updated: 06/29/03

Not long or complicated enough to warrant purchase

First off, if you do not own Dynasty Warriors 4 for the Playstation 2, buy that. Now. That said, let's review this totally different game.

WARNING: Postal 2 derives its humor from the repeated use of outdated cultural stereotypes in conjunction with heavy use of the f-word and other profanity. If you are easily offended, then I hate you.

For most categories, the scores are relative to Unreal Tournament 2003 on low-medium graphics settings.

PRESENTATION - 5

GRAPHICS - 4
In an attempt to be more ''realistic,'' we get ok polygon counts but with muddy textures. Nothing looks bad, but I was never impressed by this game's graphical prowess. The flame effects are particularly below average, which is odd given the prevalence of fire in this game.
It seems like every use of the Unreal Warfare engine outside of Unreal Tournament 2003 results in a poor application of the Karma Rag Doll Physics effect. I mean, everything is all programmed-out for you. Why insist on ruining an excellent self-generating death animation program? For Rainbow Six 3, people tend to bend over backwards. For Unreal 2: The Awakening, joint ranges of motion were extremely limited and only half the enemies even had RDP programmed. And now Postal 2, while not THAT poor, has an RDP tendency for corpses to bend back wards. I've seen a characters hit in the shoulder die in the exact same way as one hit in the head.
About the only good physics that went into this game is the fact that heads will get knocked off of bodies and can be batted around. Also, unlike Rainbow Six 3, you can beat on bodies/heads after death. Finally, the melee weapons (at least the Shovel), whack corpses around good. On the other hand, none of the weapons have the right ''kick'' to them. I remember how, in Hitman 2, double magnum-calibered silverballers would send people flying and flipping while the 9 mm would just drop them. In Postal 2, each weapon has about the visual power of a watergun. And worst of all, if a character barely dies, he'll go into the exact same preprogrammed animation, which totally invalidates RDP programming about 1/10th of the time.
The worst part of the graphical issues is the ridiculous load times, which are just as bad as Unreal 2: The Awakening, except without nearly as good a graphical payoff. The absolute worst is when you have to traverse two load barriers right next to each other.
AND WHERE ARE MY REFLECTIVE SURFACES! I wanna see my digital avatar in the game! Deus Ex 1 had mirrors everywhere, and Unreal Warfare can't support it or something?! Splinter Cell?!?, HUH!?!?!

AUDIO - 4
There's some good voice acting backing this up. Postal 2 relies purely on vulgar humor, and it's nice to have a lead who can deliver sardonic remarks as he pours gasoline on people and then flicks a match. On the other hand, there isn't much talking and very few stock phrases. In a game that absolutely requires lots of vocal humor, this is a deathsentence. It's like making a videogame whose only merit is graphics and then having every color in the game be a shade of brown (see Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind). Also, the bg music is barely tolerable.

STORY - 7
You play a videogame developer who must complete a set of chores over the course of one week. It sounds boring, but rest assured, this is not a Shenmue clone by any means. Furthermore, it's extremely refreshing to do something in an FPS besides save the world from an ancient alien threat.
On Monday, you go to collect your paycheck, cash it, then get milk from the groceries. Upon arriving to the Running With Scissors office (also the name of the developers), you not only get fired, but a crowd of violent videogame protestors storm the building. Of course everyone involved is heavily armed. While this is funny, EVERY objective has you doing a simple chore that gets interrupted by protestors, or Osama-lookalike Arab suicide bombers, or protestors who set fire to the building you have to escape, etc., etc., etc. It all gets to be the same after, oh, Tuesday.
There are alot of nice signs and posters everywhere, like the insurance billboard proclaiming ''Hey, kids! Your parents are going to die...,'' the Joseph McCarthy Library, and the arcade videogames ''Sym Homeless'' and ''Fag Hunter.'' Good stuff.

CONTROL - 5

BUTTON ASSIGNMENT
Postal 2 has standard FPS controls.
WASD moves, mouse shoots-aims
Nothing unexpected here.

CAMERA - 5
First-person view with a nonobtrusive HUD

FEEL - 6
Pretty good. The 3 guns are standard FPS fare, but the gasoline can is quite inventive. With the primary fire, you lay down a liquid trail of gasoline (ideally hitting target people as well), which you then ignite at will with the secondary fire match flick. You can also unzip your fly, then pee (recharges), which puts out flames. I once lit a priest on fire, then put him out with urine. He was still mad, so I knocked his head off with my shovel and defiled his corpse. There's also a mechanics revolving around cats; they'll run away from you unless you sneak up on them or attract them with catnip. You can shove your shotguns and machine guns up collected cats' butts to muffle the gunblasts (I am not making this up), or you can throw them out to distract ravenous dogs.

GAMEPLAY - 5

MECHANICS - 6
Each Day of the Week you have 3 objectives. These are basically fetch-quests that are interrupted by violent people. You can sit back and watch the two groups fight it out, or you can take an active role in fending off the attackers.
However, killing anyone or shooting your gun, or heck, even having it out attracts police attention that dissipates with time in a blatant rip from Grand Theft Auto. You fight off the police, hide from them, etc. Then you go complete the next chore. Of course, if you choose not to kill anyone, then I have to wonder why you're playing this game.

LEVEL DESIGN - 3
Postal 2 is a city stitched together from about 15 zones (with annoying load times in between). You walk inside stores and other peoples' houses (which aggravates or scares them). It's like Deus Ex (no, not quality-wise) in the sense that you walk around a believable world while going about your business. The problem is that it's not nearly as well-designed, and doesn't make for particularly engaging twitch-shooting action.

ENEMIES - 7
The AI is quite impressive, in the sense that the Police recognize all of your illegal acts, women will mock you when you walk around with your fly unzipped, and the more violent citizens will shoot you if you bump into them too many times or invade their homes. Other times, your victims will sink to their knees and beg for their lives and vomit when you urinate on them.

VALUE - 2
You have an FPS with levels that aren't designed for an action game and essentially the same process for each objective. I have to slog through it just to finish this short (there's only 1 week to play) 8 hour game once, and I'll delete it after that. No multiplayer, no reason to replay. I don't fault Postal 2 for its vulgarity, just for not being worthy of purchase in a day and age of Unreal Tournament 2003 and (soon) Half Life 2.

Rating:   2.0 - Poor

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