The Punisher PS2 Review

The Punisher is one of the darker Marvel comic book characters, and with good reason too. After his family is slaughtered, Frank Castle became the Punisher to teach those who oppose him a lesson or two, often involving painful looking objects. It’s ideal source material for a videogame then and THQ and Volition have seen this grisly potential.

The Punisher is an action game of the generic kind. You blow a wave of bad guys away and then you do it again in the next room, it’s certainly not rocket science by any stretch of the imagination. What the game does do is impress with its array of options during gunfights and even throws in some brutal interrogations for good authentic measure.

The interrogations have probably already sold the game to many and we’ve got to admit that they are satisfyingly brutal. The basic interrogations allow you to grab an enemy and do vicious things to him such as slamming his face into the ground, holding a gun to his head, throttling or knocking hells delight out of him with your bare knuckles. This is executed with both the precise use of the analog stick and an enemy stress meter, which hopefully results in breaking the spirit of your victim, forcing him to spill all that he knows. The special interrogations and kills are made obvious by glowing markers nearby, and this normally involves threatening or killing the enemies in various ways by interacting with the environment.

Wandering around and interrogating any enemy you see isn’t always beneficial as far as significant information is concerned, the guys with the most important information are actually highlighted with Punisher skull symbols above their heads. It’s a pleasing enough system that does genuinely work well and sometimes even offers a little freedom if you manage to successfully interrogate a foe without accidentally killing him in the process. There’s certainly some promising potential to build upon in any future Punisher titles.

The Punisher is a raw and violent game, which deservedly earns the 18 rating. The game hasn’t totally escaped censorship though, which will create mixed feelings amongst gamers. Any truly violent death sees the camera flit away to avoid the real nasty bits and the black and white filtering is obviously intended to tone it all down, but looks rather stylish at the same time. For all you bloodhounds out there, it still contains some nasty stuff though.

The games main flaw is the difficulty level, which is far too easy on all available difficulty levels. There are so many things that lean in the favour of the Punisher character, that it makes the game a walk in the park. If you are running low on health successful interrogations will help push the energy back up as will the frenzied slaughter mode and saving innocent people. Human shields are also far too easily captured and we often found ourselves being done with one and then quickly grabbing another with little resistance on our victims part. The only downers are the fact that you lose the dual-wielding capabillity and have to walk a tad slower.

The story mode lasts an adequate amount of hours for a title that has the danger of becoming overly repetitive if it runs for too long. There are still plenty of reasons to return to the game even after completion. Along the way you’ll unlock challenge and punisher modes on many of the levels, which require you to complete a level with a specific goal in mind or a certain kill number before kicking the bucket yourself.

The game is still a total blast to play and the body count skyrockets, as you’d expect from such a dark and revenge-driven character. Perhaps the interrogations could have worked a little better and offered more of the kind that really provide you with different options (allowing missions to play out a little differently) as we found that there simply wasn’t enough of them. Despite the aforementioned flaw and the lack of challenge, The Punisher still comes strongly recommended for those who like their action served as both brainless and violent.