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The Punisher PS2 Review - -

Gameplay 9.3
Graphics 8.8
Sound 9.0
Value 9.2
Distributor: THQ
Review Date:
May 2005
Andrew B


The Punisher

For the uninitiated, The Punisher is about a man named Frank Castle who was once on the more ethical side of the law until a mob family by the name of the Saint’s wiped out his entire family and left Castle for dead. Miraculously, Castle survived and vowed to get revenge on the Saint’s and every other scumbag in New York. The thing is that Castle has his own idea of 'justice' and he fights fire with fire. During his adventures, Punisher will see the likes of Kingpin, Bullseye, Jigsaw, and even Ironman makes a cameo appearance. The game’s story really drives the point as far as how low Castle thinks of his enemies. Castle is still just as dirty, brutal, and sometimes even more cold-blooded than his adversaries. Frank Castle lives up to the name “The Punisher” in every single way imaginable. With that said, the Punisher is a mixture of third person shooter meets the ultra-violence of Grand Theft Auto San Andreas.

It should also be noted that The Punisher is probably the most violent game that I have ever played on the PlayStation 2 which matches the psyche of Frank Castle perfectly. You are given an arcade score that takes into account how stylish you were in killing your foes and you are rewarded points accordingly. There are also literally over 100 different ways to kill someone in this game. Kills run the gamut from quick kills, to special kills, interrogations, and special interrogations. Quick kills basically consist of non-interactive death animations that are at a touch of a button. With one push of the square button, you can stick a knife either under someone’s chin, or through the top of their head, you can throw your shotgun at them and while they catch it, either shoot them in the head with your handgun or stab them in the face, you can even shove a grenade in your enemies mouth and watch them run around like a madman for a second until it explodes in their mouth; brilliant! Use a quick kill while holding a crow bar or butcher’s knife and you end up sticking it halfway through someone’s head. It doesn’t get much brutally splendid than this!

The game also features a challenge mode, and punishment mode with certain tasks that you have to do within a certain amount of time. These range from killing a certain amount of people within a certain amount of time, to using six different weapons to kill enemies with. These turn out to be fun and add a little life to the game after you beat it. Your reward? You unlock different Punisher comic book covers from different Punisher comic book series’ over the years as well as concept art from the game. Play the game on hard and reach a certain preset level of arcade points and you even unlock cheats.

Graphically, The Punisher is a hit and miss affair on the PlayStation 2 and even though the console is almost 5 years old, there are enough games out there at the moment (Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith and GTA: San Andreas) that proves the console still has some life left in it. The most impressive feature of the game is the character model of Frank Castle who looks perfect as The Punisher and almost appears to have walked out of a comic book. The other characters in the game, whether the good guys or the bad guys have all been professional created and match that with some impressive texture details and the developers have done a brilliant job at recreating the world of the Punisher. The only downside to the graphics are the sometimes mediocre backgrounds that look all too flat and washed out but fortunately there are enough special effects (& gore) to almost forgive this aspect of the game.

The voice acting of the title has also been professionally created and Thomas Jane once again reprises his role as Frank Castle who perfectly captures the dark humor and gravely bad ass nature of the Punisher. Jane delivers his lines perfectly, and the dialogue is 100% Frank Castle. Fans of the comics will get a kick out of some of his one liners throughout the game. This should come as no surprise as Punisher scribes Garth Ennis and Jimmy Palmiotti penned the story for the videogame. The other voices found in the rest of the game are not as good as Jane’s performance, but makes up for it with its humor. You will hear people say 'Oh sh*t, it’s the f*****g Punisher!' and some crack heads will ask you if you’re that 'finisher' dude. There’s definitely a lot of cursing going on in this game, but I found that it adds to the humor of some of the dialogue. That combined with the different reactions that enemies have to your murderous ways makes the voice acting fun. The musical score and sound effects of the game also match the 'dark tone' of the title and they all interact perfectly with the gaming environment.

In conclusion, The Punisher is a fun, violent romp through New York that is as much gratifying as it is brutal. Those of you that are not fans of the source material will still have fun with this title, although a rent would probably satisfy your urge to play. Those of you that are big Punisher fans on the other hand will purchase this game and kill to your hearts content. Not since Mortal Kombat II have I played a game that actually had the blood and gore enhance your experience like The Punisher does. Wow!


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