As far as the Boombox crew goes, I’m the odd man out when it comes to the choice of a primary gaming console. While the other guys all share long nights of Xbox Live together, I have to be excluded because I chose the Playstation 3.
With Punisher week upon us, Jew learned that there was a PSN exclusive game released as a Tie-In for the Punisher: War Zone movie. He said “Hey Brad! You have a PS3, right? Why don’t you do a Let’s Play of that!”
I told him to go fuck himself.
When you think of The Punisher, what do you think of? Guy in a black T-Shirt with a Skull on the front, shooting everyone he sees and having a cynical attitude towards the justice system right? Okay, so what comes to mind when you think of Unreal Tournament and it’s somewhat successful series of games? How about an Arena-Based Shooter that can be modified, which is known for being one of the prominent choices in competitive gaming? So what would happen if you combine the two together? You get The Punisher: No Mercy.
A Punisher first person shooter SHOULD be a good idea. They already covered the Max Payne angle in the 2005 THQ game and the Rail Shooter angle in the NES/Gameboy game by LJN, so a First-Person shooter using the same gritty Noir style dialog and comic inspired cut scenes to progress the story COULD have been fantastic. In fact I think it would have sold particularly well, especially in this day and age full of games like Call of Duty, Halo and Medal of Honor. Too bad that’s just a gamer’s wishful thinking, because instead Zen Studios (the same people that brought us Zen Pinball and Zen Marvel Pinball) decided to do an Arena based shooter akin to UT (See what I did there? Foreshadowing) featuring some of the worst AI design, lack luster maps, poor character design AND a bunch of shitty one-liners on repeat.
It’s a comic style cut scene, one that fits with how Marvel Comics now envisions the character of The Punisher. Now let’s look at the in-game model:
Ultimately, all of the in-game character models either look like skeletons or look like they have a bunch of skin attached, which makes them really… odd. I suppose I can see where they were going with a Punisher that looks like he hasn’t been eating, that he’s been taking only the bare minimum to stay alive. But seriously, he looks like he’s a rubber mask on a skeleton. Not what I call a good start.
Like I’ve previously stated, it’s essentially a clone of UT. A really bad clone of UT. You spawn on one side of the map and since the single player has you as the single hero (sometimes you have The Black Widow, but that rarely happens), you have to take on AT LEAST twenty or thirty goons while trying to complete objectives like “HOLD THE BASE” or “CAPTURE THE FLAG”. I was almost expecting them to have the “ULTRA-KILL” guy pop in once I’ve tagged about twenty dudes in a row. They also had some cheesy re-spawn “plot” (and I use that term loosely) which allowed the villains (and yourself) to be brought back to life. It didn’t really matter though, because in the end there was no story. Just The Punisher killing everyone in sight, which pretty much defines Frank. How did they fuck this up?
Of all The Punisher games I’ve been playing lately (and holy fuck, I’ve played a lot) the music isn’t any exception: I still prefer the NES Jazz Man that would pop on the screen. At least that served a purpose and wasn’t distracting. The maps in the game are more lackluster then playing de_dust2 in Counter Strike. It seemed like you would end up playing the same four maps with different rule sets. That’s fine if the game wasn’t primarily designed to be a multi-player game. However Since it IS intended to be an online game, four maps aren’t enough. Call of Duty at least knew to include about twenty maps with the core game and then have Downloadable Content. Punisher: No Mercy feels like Zen wanted to include DLC since it worked really well with Zen Pinball. Not with this game though, because no one liked it, and nobody will remember it.
The last component of this game is the multi-player. My experience: No one is playing it. I know it’s been out since 2009, but seriously! EVEN THEN nobody was playing it! They COULDN’T play it online! The servers for this game were atrocious, so much so that if anyone started a room, they would be playing with bots the entire time! Lag was a larger killer then The Punisher himself, and that’s a LANDMARK of an achievement!
Overall, for (at the time) fifteen bucks, I still feel profoundly ripped off. It’s The Punisher, how hard of a concept can it be to essentially just have the player killing thugs left and right without any remorse? Why do I feel bad, then, for the designers who honestly thought using the Unreal 3 engine would make a good game instantly? I don’t know, but for you fellow PS3 users, even if you are a Marvel and (God help you) a Punisher fan, don’t buy this. You might as well get Marvel Zen Pinball, at least that’s fun as hell.