There’s just something inherently badass about taking on a small island nation alongside Nick Fury. As the game progresses you’ll witness cameos from a number of other Marvel properties including Matt Murdoch (Daredevil), Black Widow, Iron Man, Kingpin and Bullseye. All of these characters are integrated quite nicely and play an integral role in the game’s plot. It’s nice to see the developers taking full advantage of the license instead of focusing squarely on the title property. Something tells me that Peter Parker would have made an appearance in the game too if Activision didn’t have the exclusive rights. There’s even a little homage to Half-Life as you’ll watch Professor Gordon inadvertently open a portal in Stark Towers. Comic book fans will wonder why it took this long for a developer to finally acknowledge the other super heroes that roam around their universe.
Though the game features plenty of variety, it still manages to become repetitive fairly quickly. There’s a lot to do and the action keeps coming, but the game lacks that one fundamental feature to give the action that special oomph. The interrogation aspect is pretty fun but the game needed a wildcard to make the shootouts truly memorable. Overall you just kind of feel like you’re killing the same nameless foes over and over again, not that there’s anything wrong with that, it just doesn’t feel particularly engaging. Aside from being repetitive, the game’s main problem is that it’s simply too easy. Frank is essentially a walking tank that can take far too much damage. In most circumstances he can simply stand in the middle of a room and take out his foes like a death-dealing turret. Even his encounter with a tank is far too easy because the tank’s giant shells do far too little damage. A novice player will be able to tear through the game with little trouble; we recommend you beef up the difficulty right from the start to avoid beating it too quickly. Speaking of which, the game is painfully short and can be beaten in about two-to-three days. As it stands, the first half of the game starts off great but eventually fizzles out. Towards the end of the game I found myself staring blankly at the screen, wondering how more there was left to go.
To add some replay value the game employs a medallion system (determined by how many points you earn in a mission) which governs its unlockables. Goodies range from comic book covers, to flashback sequences to pre-rendered movies. These are great throw-ins for fans of the franchise as they’ll simply want to unlock all of the treasures that are hidden in the game. To make things easier the game also allows you to replay any of the stages that you’ve completed at any time. So if you want to just beat the game you can run through the stages and then go back later to get the better medals.
Frank’s character model looks great but the rest of the world looks pretty mundane. There’s a lot of variety in the locations, that’s to be sure, there’s just not a whole lot of detail. Every portion of the game is plagued by poor models and muddle textures that really look out of place in a game released in the year 2005. To make things worse the engine is really ineffective and suffers from horrendous slowdown in many of the game’s key moments. Other special effects such as sparks and flames look pretty bad and the filter used for the slaughter mode hurts our eyes. Overall the Xbox and PS2 versions look pretty identical, but the Xbox version suffers from less slowdown.
We really can’t complain about the audio, but we really can’t get excited about it either. It’s easy to fall in love with all of Frank’s wisecracks but it’s even easier to get annoyed with your enemy’s repetitive lines. We liked the weapons effects but the heavier weapons really needed to have beefier sounds, ones that gave my subwoofer a work out. Even with the sounds turned up I could barely rattle a sheet of paper with a rocket launcher round. At least the sound separation is pretty good; I always had a pretty good idea of where the enemy was shooting from through the use of audio cues.
It’s easy to fall in love with THQ’s The Punisher
, it has tons of non-stop action and a badass character that you can really get behind. It’s just that the repetitive nature of the game really stops this from becoming a true classic. Don’t get me wrong, there’s great fun to be had from killing a bunch of nameless enemies (just check out Serious Sam
), but there needs to be some variety sprinkled within the carnage. Had that variety been instilled in the game to keep the action fresh, the Punisher would have been one of the first marquee titles of the New Year. Still though, what’s here is rather engaging and will hold any action fan over for a weekend.
More On:The Punisher
After the horrible debacle that was the Punisher major motion picture, itâ€™s a wonder why THQ decided to continue with its licensed property. Then we realized that the game, unlike the movie, is actually faithful to the comic and thus retains Frank Castleâ€™s badass nature. The end result is an action-filled romp that proves to be ever Punisher fanâ€™s dream come true.
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