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Batman: Arkham Origins features an expanded Gotham City and introduces an original prequel storyline occurring several years before the events of Batman: Arkham Asylum and Batman: Arkham City. Taking place before the rise of Gotham City\'s most dangerous
The Punisher Review
developer: Volition, Inc.
PIII 1000, 128MB RAM,
|ESRB rating: M
release date: Jan 18, 05 (released)
|» All About The Punisher on ActionTrip|
Last year was a very good year for video games. As the holiday season approached, publishers started going nuts with loads of blockbuster games, releasing titles like Half-Life 2, GTA: San Andreas and Halo 2 in the course of just several weeks. But you all know that. The point is, that since the beginning of the new year we haven't really seen a single project on the PC that would warrant much attention. Slowly but steadily, PC games are beginning to reemerge, starting with The Punisher and the ever enticing Playboy: The Mansion.
While I'm sure that The Punisher has some similarities with Playboy: The Mansion, I can't really think of any at the moment. Possibly calling Hugh Hefner "The Punisher," which I'm sure would make sense in certain situations, bearing in mind that handcuffs are readily available to civilians these days, and that he's living with seven or so Playmates in a huge mansion.
The focus of this review is on the Marvel character of course - a rogue cop gone slightly psycho after his family was murdered by ruthless gangsters. That pretty much sums up the comic, and if you've seen the movie, I don't think I need to elaborate any further. You see, the comic does a good job of bringing a certain amount of depth to the Punisher, and likewise, the movie did a fairly good job at expanding the comic book franchise, but it looks like the game has no such ambitions. It almost seems as if the developers assumed everyone knew who the Punisher was and they simply stuffed the entire story inside the intro cut-scene, without really letting it break out in a satisfactory manner at any point in the game. You step in the boots of the Punisher as he sets forth to execute every single gangster that had something to do with his family tragedy while making smart remarks as he deals massive amounts of painful death to the bad guys in a myriad of... interesting ways. The only problem is that this somewhat shallow approach to the story background doesn't help the game any, as it lessens the cinematic impact it might've had and doesn't really make us emotionally attached to the character.
But hey, this is The Punisher we're talking about, who cares about the story! This game is really all about lots and lots of killing, swearing, and mindless linear romps through levels! It's obvious there was never any intention on the part of the developers to expand the narrative beyond the bare necessities that the license requires.
Since this is a console port (or a multiplatform title), you can pretty much forget about any kind of multiplayer mode. At times The Punisher will seem like Max Payne without the bullet time mode and that seems like the kind of game play experience Volition was striving to achieve.
You control your character in third-person mode with the option to switch to an over the shoulder view for more accurate aiming. The Punisher can dual-wield weapons (even assault guns) and he can't jump on any surfaces. He can dive on the floor, but without the ability to slow time. Take away the slow motion effects in that dive and it becomes pretty much useless. However, the dual wielding option is fun and well executed. It works sort of like Halo 2 does on the gamepad, but instead of pressing the right or left trigger button to shoot, you do it by pressing the left or right mouse button. It's a very intuitive and fun way to handle dual wielding, even if it might cause minor aiming problems in over the shoulder view.
Overall, The Punisher is a very linear game in terms of its level design, and it's really just a classic console arcade shooter, similar to the likes of Namco's Dead to Rights, only with a popular Marvel license and better physics. The linear gunfights and level romps are slightly offset by the option to interrogate bad guys along the way, using special interrogations that are far more violent than the ordinary methods. This can lead to them helping you out or revealing important information. You could call this a non-linear element, but I really wouldn't, as you can finish the game either way: by talking to them or by throwing them in a pool of piranhas.
As the Punisher progresses through the levels and takes out one boss mobster after another, new weapons will be unlocked and you'll be able to upgrade some of his skills. Also, getting a medal (bronze, silver or gold) will unlock certain new modes of play, etc. The usual console stuff really.
Finally, the action itself can get intense at the later stages of the game, especially because of the well-implemented locational damage system and accurately modeled bullet penetration physics as well as weapon recoil. Together with the fun dual-wielding this can spell out some intense firefights that will be made even more fun for us by being extra violent and playing on the ruthless side of our character.
Game play-wise, however, I had a big problem with the difficulty level. Playing on 'normal' difficulty, I found the game to be slightly less challenging than it should've been. The thing I liked about the original Dead to Rights was its extreme difficulty, which made the game play challenging and consequently a lot more addictive. The Punisher flows a lot better (you move through the levels at a steady pace), but it never delivers the kind of challenge that makes arcade shooters truly addictive.
From a technical standpoint, the game doesn't really excel in any particular area, though to be honest it doesn't disappoint too much either. The graphics are mostly average (with low-res textures glaring out of the screen at times), and the quality of the sound is often very inconsistent. As far as the AI is concerned, I thought I see them try to flank my position from time to time, so they can at least appear to act human. The bad guys will often use cover, but not very effectively, as you can easily pick 'em off by an over the shoulder shot and slightly improved accuracy skill.
6.8 Above Average
Firefights can get intense at times, dual wielding, it shows the Punisher's grim side, locational damage and a few other physics tricks;
Far too linear and too mediocre to leave any sort of lasting mark, no multiplayer mode.