Postal 2

Review

posted 4/17/2003 by John Yan
other articles by John Yan
Running through a week on the life of the postal dude can be interesting. Living in Paradise, Arizona where it seems almost everyone carries a gun you can run into all sorts of interesting characters that inhabit the small town. Postal 2 offers up a first person shooter that, while might not be a great bonafide hit, is still not too shabby in some parts and definitely not for those who are offended easily.

Postal 2 lets you live one interesting week in the postal dude’s life. The game leaps from its 2D sprite top down view to the first person 3D Unreal engine technology. The design of Paradise is like Half-Life where it’s one big area and each section is loaded as you walk through a load zone that’s usually signified by a long tunnel. Most areas have a bright yellow sign telling you that walking through here will generate a load from your harddrive. The load times can be pretty long at times so you don’t want to jump back and forth between areas that much. Each day you are given a set of tasks to complete before you return home to your trailer to be nagged by your significant other. Each new day also brings new sections of the town to visit. While the tasks seem simple enough, they will usually lead to some sort of violent act upon completion.

For example, one of the first tasks you’ll need to meet is getting your check from your job at Running With Scissors. Yes, you work for the company that developed the game and their office is in the game itself. After you pick up your check after your first day of work (I don’t know why you’re paid for your first day but I digress.), a group of activists against video game violence come storming into the building ready to take you and the employees of RWS out. You can either sit back and let the RWS guys handle the situation with their guns or duke it out and unleash your aggressions on them. And that’s usually how a simple task results into a bloodbath. You’ll actually get through some without any incident but most of the time you’ll be in the middle of a firefight for your life. The fights help add some spice to an otherwise boring routine or task that’s assigned to you.

So that’s the basic premise of the game. You’re given a number of tasks each day and you’ll experience the madness that occurs throughout the day. One nice thing is each task is separate and you don’t have to complete them in any order. If you rather wait for the task of standing in line to confess your sins as your last stop you can. Oh yes, standing in line. There are a few areas where you have to stand in line and if you try to cut in the employee at the place will tell you to get in the back and not serve you. There are a few instances were I was able to successfully cut in line and get my objective complete. Or you can take your gun, scare everyone away, and move to the head of the line with ease. Just make sure there are no cops around to see you whip out that weapon. Standing in line is about as exciting in the game as it is in real life. Thankfully the lines aren’t too long and you should be able to get through them in a relatively short amount of time.


Cops and other cast of characters inhabit the game world giving you an illusion of a living population in the town of Paradise. While most will leave you alone unless provoked, there are a few that will shoot you on sight. For example, once you get on the video game protestors bad side, they will shoot you on site no questions asked. It’s up to you to deal with the situation as you see fit. You can shoot back and risk the cops taking you down also or have the law deal with the situation. After a few shots from the cops the enemy will turn their attention on them rather than you. The AI will have its moments of brilliance and stupidity like most games. You’ll see some enemies run for cover or just get plain scared and drop their weapon while running madly away. Cops will usually try and work together to take your or someone else down by maneuvering around each other to get a better shot. I even ran into a situation where a passerby saw me murder someone and ran to a cop to point me out. After that I was on the run from the law. There are some moments in the game’s AI where you stand back for a sec and say that’s pretty cool.

As far as the law goes, anytime you pull out your weapon or pull down your zipper to urinate on someone (I’ll go more in depth on this in a minute.) you’ll have a meter pop up in the right side of the screen showing how much time you have as a wanted fugitive. When you kill cops or other pedestrians, the meter goes up and as time goes by slowly decreases to the point where it’s safe to walk in public again. Until the police indicator disappears, any police officer that sees you will try to arrest you or shoot you depending on how high the meter is. Getting arrested isn’t the end of the game as you can break out of jail and continue on your day.

One of the problems I do have with the citizens of Paradise is that everyone has Medal of Honor sniper like aim. You will ALWAYS be hit no matter how far you are or how much dodging you do. The computer people will never miss and that’s really frustrating on anything but the really easy levels. Besides being master marksmen, the people of Paradise can absorb tens of bullets to the head and not even be fazed. It’s because of this that I wanted to actually go through the game without trying to get into fights. Unfortunately, you are forced into a few of those situations and you can die pretty easily even trying to be a pacifist. And then you’ll be forced to wait through the long reload times that plague this game. Easier computer opposition would’ve taken a lot of frustration out in this game. As is I don’t see how people can play it on any level higher than the easier ones so they don’t die easily when in shootouts.

Weapons come in all shapes ranging from guns, shovels, scissors, grenades, and even a gas can. While most are standard, the gas can is truly one of the better weapons in FPS games that I’ve used. You can lay down a gas trail and then light it on fire with a match. One part of the game featured the famous marching band of Postal fame and I poured a nice little trail in front of their marching path. As soon as they stepped over it I light the gas on fire and watched as the members of the band get swallowed up in flames. You can get caught on fire yourself if you touch someone or something on fire. An easy way to put yourself out is to unzip your pants and urinate in the air above you. As the urine comes down it’ll put out the fire quickly. Yes there’s a key dedicated to urination and one of the tasks you have to accomplish is to urinate on a grave. You can also cause some characters in the game to vomit by urinating on them. Just don’t let the cops see you or you’ll be on the run again.


If you’re offended by the fact you can urinate on yourself and others then you’ll definitely not want to hear what else is in the game. Arab people bearing a very close resemblance to Osama Bin Laden walk the streets and take part in an attack on a church where gun-touting priests deliver their brand of justice. Many of the bathrooms in the shops aren’t really the cleanest of places so don’t be surprised to find feces on the floor and the sink. If you’re offended by being able to put a cat on the end of a shotgun and firing shots, don’t buy this game. I could go on and on some more but let me just warn you and say for a fact, Postal 2 is one of the most un-PC games out there today. I can definitely see many protests for this game as news of it hits the mainstream. The game tries hard to be funny and dark but most of the time I played through it with a small smirk at the jokes.

The graphics in Postal 2 are a mixed bag but do offer some good models. Using the Unreal engine, there are some fine points in the game. The dogs and cats are modeled well and move realistically. You’ll even see different color schemes to make it a little more diverse. Civilians come in various shapes and sizes giving you a colorful array of folks to run into. There must be something in the water in Paradise because most of the women are big busty gals with Barbi-like figures. Some of the animations are nice but most of the time they seem a little stiff. The way that some of the characters run just don’t seem natural but the cartoony aspect does fit into this game a little bit. The ragdoll physics is applied well in this game with almost everything having some mass. You can kick bodies around and watch them flop or send some gas dispensers at a gas station flying. For those with a morbid sense of humor, you can lop off a head of a victim with a shovel and play golf with it. The physics system does generate some nice effects in some scenes. One of particular note was after escaping from a group of rednecks, I fought a few on a spiral staircase. Killing one and kicking their dead body down the flight of stairs produced a cool visual effect of the body tumbling down with the arms and legs flailing. There is some really nice texture work throughout the game with some good modeling of buildings such as a local arcade complete with standup games. It definitely doesn’t come close to the clean looking Unreal 2 but it does do an adequate job of providing good visuals. I did experience a few anomalies such as clipping issues and a body attached to the ceiling so it’s not quite polished.

The lack of multiplayer will hurt its replay value. You’ll miss a lot if you don’t explore the city of Paradise but not enough to warrant too many replays at the game. Perhaps a few postal dudes running through the town completing various tasks might offered a little more fun as you could team up with your buddy. In this case though, the single player game won’t take too long to finish and you’re left with wondering if it’s even worth it to go back and stand in those lines again to get the milk.

Playing on my AMD 2200+ system with an All-in-Wonder 9700 Pro card and 512MB of ram, the game ran pretty well and there are plenty of tweaks to make the game as best as it can on your system. There were a few crashes to the desktop randomly but I didn’t experience it that much.

In the end, if you like offensive games, Postal 2 is for you. There are some interesting moments and meeting Gary Coleman is a little humorous. The graphics aren’t the prettiest but the physics system is top notch. Harsh language and offensive visuals don’t make a great game though and this game has plenty of it. It can be quite frustrating with the sharpshooting, hard to kill AI. Load times are a bear too. The game is short and you can probably finish it in a few days. Exploring the areas and finding hidden places will extend your playing time, as there are a lot of places to look around when not finishing your chores. While I don’t think it’s really bad, it’s still a disappointment considering the amount of hype and push this game gets. It’s too bad the hype is more so for the vulgarity and offensive material. Postal 2 does have one thing going for it. I played it a lot more than Postal 1.





C-
Postal 2 gives you some unique weapons to use and going through the tasks of each day is a little enjoyable. Lack of multiplayer, long load times, incredibly hard enemies, and short gameplay leaves this game in the average region. This game will have something to offend most people.