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Publisher: Running With Scissors    Genre: Action
Min OS X: 10.2.8    CPU: G3 @ 700 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 2000 MB    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

Postal 2: Share The Pain
February 1, 2005 | Eddie Park

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What runs through a players head when the subject of Postal 2 comes up? Many folks I know have yet to actually play the game, though everyone seems to have an opinion on it (something not entirely uncommon regarding anything subject to controversy). Without even having seen a single screenshot, I've known people to dismiss Postal 2 as just another hype-generation engine, using depravity on a grand scale to attract potential buyers, who in turn are typified as idiots who like bloodshed on a massive scale and little else in their gaming experiences.

I have to confess that such talk was firmly implanted in my head before ever picking up Postal 2. "Shame on you!" some of you may cry, as the popular belief is that a game reviewer must be as unbiased as possible. While the spirit of this is true, I challenge anyone of you out there not to have preconceived notions about anything, real or perceived, before approaching something with an aim to somehow quantify it for the consumption of others. There's a reason authors will agonize for weeks over the mere title of their latest works.

In any case, this is the general mentality I had when booting up Postal 2 for the first time. Surely there can't be that much to a game subtitled Share the Pain. After logging several hours of playtime, I concluded my original hypothesis was correct. Other than senseless random violence, the degradation of everything considered remotely human, and the general coming of Ragnarok in ways that could have only been fished out of the toilet bowl of the gods, Postal 2 doesnt offer much. Theres no real plotline, no motivation to save or end the world nothing at all in terms of even the tiniest bit of redemption.

Before you decide that you've read the general tone of this review, however, I submit this one important clue that many gamers, myself included, may have overlooked in initial impressions of this title. That single-minded mayhem, that senseless random violence (shall we call it SRV?), is precisely the point! Postal 2 does not pretend to be the next Half Life or Deus Ex. There is no grand design, engaging character byplay, or even any sense of real accomplishment. Rather than think of it as lacking, however, it would probably be more correct to think of it as freedom in a sense few games really offer. There is virtually nothing to get in the way of the SRV that is the focal point of this game. If someone so much as looks at you the wrong way, you are free to blow their head off and continue on your merry way. There may be consequences, but you are then free to react to these in any way you see fit, which in turn creates other situations, all of which are pretty much entirely of your own creation.

Some may point to the Grand Theft Auto series as the ultimate expressions of SRV and freedom of choice. To me, however, the GTA games are more like a long series of mini-games wrapped around a driving engine, with the ability to smack around bystanders being sort of a bonus. In Postal 2, it is entirely about the smacking around of bystanders, with the meaningless random tasks assigned to each day of play being more of an afterthought than anything else. In Postal 2, the world is your playground, and the people that populate it your puppets, to be treated with kindness or cruelty at the shift of whatever whims a player may be carrying.

I stress that this review, like the game itself, is not for everybody. If you're easily offended, I recommend you stop reading this review right now, as it's going to mention things that may cause you to pour mouthwash into your eyeballs. However, for those of you entertaining notions about picking this one up, you may find something enlightening in the information to follow.


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