Aug 6, 2014The Punisher, released in 2005 for PS2, Xbox and PC, is a great, overlooked comic book adaptation. Everything you've heard is true - it's absolutely a generic third person shooter. However, what it does, it does well.
The graphics scream of that PS2 life-cycle, GTA III inspired, cartoony, exaggerated character model look, that games like Freedom Fighters relished in. The exaggeration isThe Punisher, released in 2005 for PS2, Xbox and PC, is a great, overlooked comic book adaptation. Everything you've heard is true - it's absolutely a generic third person shooter. However, what it does, it does well.
The graphics scream of that PS2 life-cycle, GTA III inspired, cartoony, exaggerated character model look, that games like Freedom Fighters relished in. The exaggeration is not to insulting extents, mind you. The game does have a very clean look to it. Colors come off as bright and contrasted (even though most of the levels take place in the dark), the animations are smooth, but there's certainly no way to mistake this for anything other than it is; a PS2 era game. Since it did release so late in the console's life-cycle, it does look good. The only issue I have in the visuals department is with the unsteady framerate. It never gets too horrible, but its noticeable.
What makes The Punisher stand out slightly as more than a generic shooter is the way the game is constructed. Every level runs on a point system, which you can choose to entirely ignore, if you so wish. However, in doing so, you're missing a lot of the fun of this game. This is an arcadey action game, at its heart, and it should be played as such. The game allows you to get creative with your kills. There are a metric sh*t ton of weapons in the game, including melee options, and you have the ability to quick kill enemies. One of the other notable abilities is being able to induce a "rage mode", of sorts. Press the triangle button, and the visuals of the game will appear in black and white, granting The Punisher unlimited throwing knives, invincibility, as well as health regeneration.
While none of the mechanics the game uses are anything new, they do mesh extremely well together. The well implemented, often controversial interrogation scenes of the game also add to the experience. The game allows you to feel as though the thug's lives that you're threatening are up to your judgment. Go too far in one of these interrogations, which uses a health and stress meter on these thugs, and you'll end up killing the target instead of getting information out of him. It's works well, the animations are all interesting and entertaining, and it makes you feel like The Punisher.
While every level is essentially a set of corridors, leading to open environments, leading to tons of thugs to kill at The Punisher's pleasure, there are more than enough options that the game allows you to play with to make it all interesting, and most importantly, make it all work. The Punisher is rarely ever not fun to play. Some levels can be too short, and others can feel barren, but these moments happen so few and far between, that the rest of the game is totally forgivable.
Another great thing The Punisher gets right is the story. It's penned by one of the Punisher MAX writers, and it shows. It takes established villains of the franchise, and manages to do interesting things with them, often tying them to the film that released a year prior. Normally, I would be totally against this, but it just meshes so well with the narrative that's told here, that it's hard to not enjoy. It's a well crafted narrative that fans of the character will get a lot out of, and especially Marvel fans, in general. There are numerous appearances from other huge Marvel characters, and none of these appearances feel half-baked. They all play into the story wonderfully.
While The Punisher may be a simple, arcadey action game at face value, it's absolutely an enjoyable one. I'd go as far to say that this is one of the most underrated Marvel games ever made, especially so considering how violent it all is. It's fun, it's frantic, it controls well, it has a solid narrative, and it makes you feel like The Punisher. Volition, who went on to develop the Saints Row series, did a fantastic job with this title, and I can't recommend it to fans of the franchise enough. It's hard to ask for more out of a Punisher game, especially one from 2005.… Expand
Dec 13, 2012A pretty decent game that mimics Manhunt in many ways. I was really suprised at how graphically violent it was, considering it's a Marvel game. But, it does stay true to the comic (more or less) and Frank Castle comes across as the Badass he is perfectly. Overall: One of the unsung PS2 hits that is worthy of the limelight.