A game which is brutal on so many levels.
It feels almost appropriate to be playing The Punisher this week, what with the freshly minted Netflix series and all, although this is a game that owes its roots firmly to the comic book version of the character rather than any particular TV or movie tie-in.
Not that they haven’t tried, what with the Thomas Jane Punisher movies (which date from exactly the same era as this game, although the only tie-in is that Jane voices Castle here too), or the amusingly cheap Dolph Lungdren one.
Which has extra bonus goodies for any Sydneysider, because if you look not-that-hard-at-all at the skylines, you’ll realise it was shot in North Sydney, and around Luna Park specifically. Something tells me that Manhattan never had Centrelink buildings.
But I digress… sort of. Because as cheesy as that trailer is, it matches the rather grimy and serious tone of this particular game, which takes the Punisher motif in obvious ways as a third person action game, spliced in with a lot of very hard violence. It dates from the period before we had R18+ ratings for games, and I remember even then thinking it was a very hard MA15+ game to justify on violence grounds alone.
As I play it now, I’m struck with four key thoughts:
1) The model they have for The Punisher looks way too much like Razor Ramon. Seriously, Scott Hall could have been the body double.
2)This is pretty good fun, and (were it not for licensing issues and the death of THQ) it’d make an interesting remastering project, because…
3)Outside of Frank, it really doesn’t look that good. Like, original-PlayStation-3D modelling-not-that-good in places, especially for basic enemies. There are some neat effects, like when you become enraged and everything goes black and white (and sometimes red), but the edges on characters and jagged walls you’re constrained within really don’t look that great.
4) The first level is set in a crack house, and inevitably, I can’t help but remember this entirely-not-safe-for-work-darkly-funny Onion classic.
Clearly, this is a game I shall return to. Although not when my kids are watching.
Fat Duck Tech Retro Xbox Game Rankings
- Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time
- Taito Legends 2
- Outrun 2
- Ninja Gaiden
- The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction
- Godzilla: Save The Earth
- The Punisher
- SSX Tricky
- NFL Street
- Disney Extreme Skate Adventure
- FIFA 2004
- NHL Rivals 2004
- Spy vs Spy
- Rugby League
- Judge Dredd: Dredd vs Death
- Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball
Another really tough call, largely because while I like what Volition were trying to do here, it hasn’t aged well in a visual sense, which at this stage pretty much puts it in the middle of the pack.
Next time: Pirated software abounds!