RETRO – The Punisher is the least bit like Max Payne… Especially since we cannot slow down time, but we can torture people, shoot with two guns at the same time, plus The Punisher has that trendy Skull t-shirt that Max can only dream about it. Cool.
The mafia massacred Frank Castle’s entire family. He swore vengeance and went against the Family of New York, culminating in the death of everyone being responsible for Frank’s family’s massacre. The basic story is a mere copy of Max Payne and also every B, C, (D?) category Action movie, so much that I did not think there was anything left to skin off the old trope. It seems THQ thought that Punisher will bring a new perspective to the revenge action games.
Not open ended
The problem with The Punisher is that it tries to be a primitive TPS, where we get to cool down after a hard day of work, but also wants to be a genre defining software. The game ends up being a failure on both fronts, as neither objectives worked out in the end.
The game’s central pillar is just like Max Payne, besides the fact that we cannot slow down the action, plus The Punisher’s animation is not the greatest. Castle’s movement is like a big tank, who is beside running, crouching and jumping cannot do too much else regarding acrobatics. Luckily the developers balance this out by allowing the player to serve justice with two guns in each hand. We can also use enemies as a human shield. The weapons are great and varied enabling us to „Punish” (Letting the blood flow), so Frank’s running animation is not a big issue.
We will have an easy day with the enemies in The Punisher, as such a thing as artificial intelligence does not exist. Most of the times they just stare at us in the open, while trying to hit us, but if they do try to take cover it is still easy to take them out. Deeper issues with the AI surfaced when I somehow got behind the enemy, and he just kept shooting the place I jumped out from. I wish I could have knocked on his shoulder and said: „Yo bro doesn’t it bother you that I’ve been next to you for the past ten seconds?!”, But I decided to spare his life and shot him in the head.
Talk, or (and…) die!
What THQ wanted for The Punisher game to be different from all the other TPS games was the interrogation feature. Sometimes the enemies would give themselves up, and would allow us to use a different kind of sadistic tortures or threats to break the enemy and make them talk.The developer’s creativity went through the roof: We can smash the window on heads, use a drill two inches in front of their eyes, or threaten to dump them into a tank full of piranhas.
Once our enemies spill the beans we can, of course, kill them and at which point the developers got cold feet. That means that the death scenes can only be seen censored in black and white. Also, some of the torture scenes are tough to handle with the PlayStation controller, and can result in a few unwanted failures.
Not as bad as the movie
The above pretty much sums up The Punisher’s score. Besides the fact that the enemy has brain dead AI, and that the killings do end up being monotonous, the game is quite fun. Next to the interrogation mode the other great aspect of the game is the graphics that shine at the detail of Frank.
Some of the environmental textures are blurred, but it is not a huge problem. For those that want to do a bit of a bloodshed after a hard day’s work, I can wholeheartedly recommend The Punisher. However, those who want a Max Payne quality effort, and story should not punish themselves with this game
+ It is fun to kill for a while
+ The interrogation scenes are great
+ The characters are well designed and detailed
– The killing can get quite monotonous after a while
– The controller does not always help in the interrogation scenes
– Weak controls
Developer: Volition Inc.
Relase date: 2005