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Sick and Twisted
If you’re easily offended or simply prefer to see the best in people, do us both a favor and skip to the next review. Postal 2: Share the Pain, by Running With Scissors, is not the game for you. In fact, it is, without question, one of the most unabashedly violent and politically incorrect games I have ever played. (It has actually been banned in some countries.) Consider yourself warned.
That said, I have to shamefully admit that I liked this game. I couldn’t help but laugh out loud—not only at the sick, and often stupid, jokes and vile behavior, but also at the pure outlandishness of it all.
Postal 2 is more or less a standard first-person shooter (FPS). You must complete a series of mundane missions—such as going to the bank, getting milk, and having your venereal disease treated. Entertaining cinematic sequences introduce you to each new mission and the storyline’s twists.
Although you can accomplish most of these tasks without ever resorting to violence, the game strongly encourages you to let loose your dark side. That’s where the guns come into play. And the hand grenades. There’s also a shovel you can use to decapitate your foes, and an anthrax-ridden cow’s head that makes anyone within its explosive radius vomit blood uncontrollably. Oh, and did I mention that you can pour gasoline on people and light them on fire?
Postal 2 is, at least on some levels, a ham-handed satire that pokes fun at everything from the gaming industry to modern politics—and few groups escape the barbs. Former child star and California gubernatorial candidate Gary Coleman even takes the heat at one point.
Unfortunately, the twisted fun can’t mask some basic flaws that mar the game’s execution. The game is set in a sprawling town. But each area is zoned and must load separately—which often leaves you tapping your fingers on the table for a few moments. And the interior level design is also a bit plain and unfinished in places.
The game’s physics engine supports “rag doll” body motion, which offers some entertainment value as corpses get blown hither and yon. And the occasional pyrotechnic effect will send cars and trucks careening into the sky, Hollywood-style. However, the computer-controlled characters are often dumb as bricks—running continuously into walls and doing other incredibly stupid stuff.
In addition to the original, single-player version of Postal 2, the Mac release includes the Share the Pain multiplayer add-on, which was released separately for the PC. This is good because you’ll get barely a dozen hours of play out of the single-player mode. The Share the Pain add-on includes 14 multiplayer maps, a server browser, and a variety of dedicated multiplayer game modes such as Grab (where you grab bags that make you stronger), Deathmatch, and Team Deathmatch.
The Bottom Line
Rude, crude, and socially unacceptable, Postal 2: Share the Pain doesn’t merely cross the line of good taste—it obliterates that line in a blaze of gasoline-fueled glory. Still, it’s sick and twisted fun for gamers looking for a different take on the FPS experience. Just expect to feel dirty and a bit ashamed afterwards.