Reviewed by Downtown Jimmy
Feb 22nd 2005
Introduction:The Punisher comic book is brought to life one more time with THQ at the helm. The Punisher holds true to Frank Castle's twisted outlook on vigilantly justice.
The Game:The Punisher stays true to its original comic book format and focuses on what The Punisher does best, kill. In THQ's adaptation of The Punisher you won't find a huge variety in gameplay, or a deep storyline. Basically all you do is run and shoot and watch the body count soar higher and higher. Keep it simple and let the gameplay be fun, that could have been the motto behind The Punisher. There are a few interesting twists and innovative ideas, but overall you'll just be holding down the trigger until all who appose are punished.
The story of the Punisher is based around vengeance. Frank Castle an experienced war veterans family getting whacked by a some gangsters and he takes it upon himself to punish anyone who walks the villainous path. In the game you small by taking on several goons who work for a local crime family and before you know it you're spiraling into a huge mini war with some international crime syndicates. The story unfolds in the way of memories because in real time you character Frank Castle is being interrogated by the police. The story stops every time the police get to a new part and then the killing begins. This helps move the game along and it kept me interested.
The gameplay is pretty limited in the Punisher and since you're mainly shooting down enemies there is a fairly large number of weapons you can use. In the beginning of each mission you can pick the weapons you want to go into the war zone with, if you have them unlocked. The weapons range from semi-auto machine guns, flamethrowers and missile launchers to dirty hairy six shooting hand cannons. There are melee weapons, but the only are available if you find them in a mission. Unfortunalty they aren't that productive and you can't run around slicing up people with a meat cleaver. The best you can do with the melee weapons like bats, cleavers and bottles is throw them at the enemy or perform a instant kill with them.
Even though The Punisher is a run and gun type of game, THQ managed to surprise gamers with a few new features which really helped switch up the pace of the game. You get to take people hostage as human shields much like last years Goldeneye. It's recommended that you grab people whenever you can, but I found they just slowed me down. You can also interrogate hostages and perform vicious special kills when you find selected spots on the map. This stuff isn't all smurfs and roses, The Punisher isn't for the easily squeamish.
The Punisher is a darker styled game and would you expect anything less?! Frank Castle is a sadistic manic hell bent on extracting vengeance from every living soul. His methods might not win him any humanitarian awards but he gets the job.
Graphics & Sound:The Punisher isn't a graphically powerful game, and although the game doesn't look bad there is nothing that stands out either. The most noticeable graphical wow will be when you shoot of someone's extremities and watch them hop around, or simple blow their head into chunks. I guess you could say the kill animations are wonderful (all 100+), in a sick Frank Castle kind of way. The real prize are is the number of animations and how smooth they are are with run solidly throughout the game. Although the detial level is good the overall design of the environments are pretty bland in the Punisher and each level repeat the same textures over and over with little or no variation in the pallets. Later on in the game you'll get the chance to have some fun in an outdoor area, but mainly you'll be confined to corridors and indoor areas to do all you're blasting. The Punisher keeps the special effects to a minimum and gives us a boring but gritty tone to the game.
The sound in The Punisher is pretty effective. I though the voice over work from Thomas Jane was wonderful. Those damn Russians! Frank Castle sounds a rough and tough as ever, and the voice over work reminded me allot of another gritty character Max Payne. I did notice the sound would drop at certain times during cut scenes which lessened the impact, but overall doesn't really affect the game. The guns and explosions sound where pretty adequate which gives that little extra punch you need when spraying bullets through hundreds of enemies.
Innovation:The coolest and most violent feature is the interrogation mode. This mode lets you take someone hostage and torture them until they spill the beans. There are four types of interrogation, punch, beat head, choke and gun pressure which are equally allot of fun. You have to be careful or you can take it to far and accidentally kill your hostage before they talk. The game cleverly has a stress meter and a health meter when you go into the mode to help you judge the situation. On top of all this are the occasional special interrogations which are available when interacting with certain areas on a map. These are brutally vicious and will make you go "whoa!" a couple of times at least. Some examples of the special interrogations are dipping someone's head into a deep fryer, pushing a nose up to a spinning propeller blade, or running a drill press against someone's head. If you take it too far on the special interrogations you will go into black and white and witness some of the most violent moments in videogame history. You go Punisher!
Mojo:The mojo is off the scale in The Punisher. Letting players control a no holds barred character like The Punisher then giving a format where you can tortured and gun down anything that moves is great! You gotta love a man who puts two knifes in your hand then pushes them through your eye sockets. Frank Castle is definitely someone you want on your good side. There is no time for remorse when there are people who need to be punished.
Lowdown:What more could you want out a Punisher videogame? The Punisher is over the top, ultra violent and an amazing amount of fun. I might suggest renting first because the game can be finished fairly quickly, but The Punisher is the type of game which you'll come back to in a few months just for the thrill of dealing out some punishment.
Gameplay: 8, Graphics/Sound: 8, Innovation: 7, Mojo: 9. Final: 8