The Punisher

Format: PS2
4 005209 062251
Age Restrictions: 18+
24 March 2005

Driven by a hatred of crime bordering on insanity, Frank Castle became The Punisher, a lone vigilante whose mission goes far beyond revenge. Talking on the city's high-powered crime lords, he wreaks havoc on the corrupt with methods normally reserved for those on the wrong side of the law. Ripped from the pages of the darkest stories in the Marvel Comics' universe - where justice ends, Punishment begins...

On the surface The Punisher is a pretty run-of-the-mill third person shooter. In fact the best way to describe it is a cross between Max Payne and The Suffering.

You play the part of Frank Castle who, after seeing his family brutally killed by the mob, sets off on a one man crusade to dish out his own justice - which usually means killing every bad guy in sight.

The game starts with you running around killing enemies, picking up their weapons and killing more bad guys... etc... However, there is a little variation to this in the fact that you don't have to kill the bad guys just be shooting them. You can grab them and use them as human shields so that their partners can't off you as quickly. You can also interrogate them in order to find out more information about their plans (the crooks that have important info have a Punisher style skull floating above their heads, so you have to make sure not to accidentally shoot them).

When you want to interrogate your victim you are given a choice of ways to scare them into spilling what they know. The main choices include choke, punch, face smash and gun point. The idea is that you must put enough fear into your victim - not enough and they keep quiet, too much and you'll kill them. Let's take the example of gun point... Here you put a gun to your victim's head. You can balance the pressure on the trigger my moving the analogue stick to but the right amount of pressure on the trigger. If you can keep you capture scared for long enough he'll tell all... but if you go over the top you'll accidentally pull the trigger... oops!

Also, dotted around the levels are special interrogation points. These allow you to interrogate a victim using a piece of nearby equipment. Examples include stuffing them in a furnace in a crematorium (and then turning the flames on and off. Turn them too high and your victim will burn before he tells you anything); hanging them off a building and shaking them; and dangling them above a tank full of electric eels.

There are also special kill areas. These include pushing people out of windows; throwing them in coffins and then throwing a grenade in after them; and feeding them to the sharks. However be warned. As with the special interrogation spots, these kill areas can only be used once.

I loved the way that staking out your territory can pay off handsomely. Instead of going in guns blazing, you can occasionally find machinery that will drop heavy items (eg cars) onto your enemies - saving you the bother of wasting your ammo.

You can also enter slaughter mode, where everything slows down and you throw knives at your enemies - all though to be honest you shouldn't actually need to use this. I actually forgot it was there for the most part.

While The Punisher may not be the most original game on the market, it is damn addictive and will certainly hold your attention for quite some time.

Pete Boomer

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