by Running With Scissors/Ripcord Games

Postal has been attracting a lot of attention since it was first unveiled. It's depiction of mass murder has created quite a bit of controversy, even sparking a reply from the Postmaster General himself due to the game's name. Personally, I'm one of those people who can tell the difference between real life and a game, so you won't find any moral discussions here. Make your own decisions on that, I'm here to tell you is Postal is FUN...

Postal is a game where you play the part of a person who has gone off the deep end and begins slaughtering people in the street. It has nothing to do with the post office. With a variety of weapons at your disposal, you'll blast your way through the game's 17 levels wiping out people everywhere from a trailer park to an Air Force base. No McDonald's, for some reason... an oversight, I guess.

Graphics in the game are quite good. I have heard opinions that vary to an incredible degree, so one can only assume that the art is a matter of personal taste. I liked it very much, the painted backgrounds looked great, and I found the effects well executed. If your machine can handle it, turn on all the graphical options and you will be treated to some wonderful effects, especially the transparency effects in the flames and smoke. The characters themselves are also well done, but a bit small to be appreciated fully. The overall artwork in the game gives Postal a look that is truly distinctive. Sound effects are very well done, weapon fire sounds good and the responses from the characters are especially rude and disturbing. During the game, you'll be treated to your character muttering phrases like "only my weapon understands me" or "did that hurt...?". Victims will shriek out "I can't see" and "kill me now". Very rude, but done in a tongue in cheek way. Music in the game is also well done, I liked the eerie soundtrack very much.

Gameplay is strictly action. You move your character around the screen and kill everything that moves, that includes hostiles and innocent bystanders. Your perspective is usually a 3/4 isometric view, although in a couple of levels it will switch to a top-down view. Along the way you'll find better and more powerful weapons, and powerups like health and body armor. You begin with an automatic rifle, then move your way up to a shotgun, grenades, rockets, napalm, molotov cocktails, even a spray cannon for the most damage. Most of the time victims will still be moving after shooting them, and there's an "execute" mode to put them out of their misery. Exit the game, and your character puts the gun to his own head. Game levels take you through different environments like a construction site, a bridge barricade, a couple of urban settings, a park, and a train yard. Everything lining you up for the final showdown at the Air Force base. The entire game consists of running around and shooting things. You'll find no strategic portions other than finding cover, choosing your weapon, and firing on others. Completing a level means satisfying the body count for that particular level. It's actually pretty mindless but if that's what you're looking for, Postal delivers quite well. Personally, I found the game to be fun quite a bit of the way through. It does get a little monotonous after a while, but I enjoyed looking at the backgrounds and special effects. AI is both good and bad. Some hostiles will shoot at you while running from one cover area to another. However, it seems to be a fixed track and they will dart out even if you are laying down cover fire. There are places where you can stand that will confuse them and they'll just spin around endlessly. Innocent bystanders are really stupid. They will stroll right in front of you even while you're taking people out right in front of their faces. Postal features a sliding scale of difficulty levels, this feature mostly affecting the accuracy of the hostile shots. The weaponry is inventive and very destructive. I would have liked to see more of the environment damageable, trees and buildings cannot be set on fire or destroyed. Explosive barrels are found in quite a few of the levels, and these seem to be the only parts of the environment that may be blown up. One level takes place at a truck stop, I would have LOVED to have seen the gas station go up in flames. Another inventive little aspect of the game includes the ability to run into other characters while ablaze and set them on fire as well.

Multiplayer is included as well, via modem, serial connection, IPX LAN or Internet TCP/IP. There's nothing quite like a multiplayer game with a bunch of little postal guys running around destroying each other with heavy weaponry. Postal also includes a level editor, imagine creating a duplicate of your own office as a little tension reliever.

Graphics 85%
Sounds 88%
Gameplay 81%
Interface 84%
Overall Impression 83%

Bottom Line: Very good graphics - excellent transparency, flame, and smoke effects. Nothing but non-stop action from beginning to end. The single player game does get a little monotonous after a while, but if mindless action is what you're looking for, Postal delivers in spades. Multiplayer games have no comparison.

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