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Title:
The Punisher
..............................................
Developer:
Volition
..............................................
Publisher:
THQ
..............................................
Release:

..............................................
Xbox Live:
No
..............................................
ESBR:
M
..............................................





Iíve been playing The Punisher lately experimenting with the innovative torture system that the developer, Volition (creators of the Red Faction games), have implemented into the game.

The Punisher puts you in the shoes of a terribly angry man named Frank Castle. Castle is a former F.B.I. agent out for revenge on those responsible for his familyís death. Gamers who are familiar with the story line of the comic book should be pleased to know that the gameís story is written by two well known writers of The Punisher comics, Garth Ennis and Jimmy Palmiotti.

Volition has made The Punisher into something different from your typical run and gun shooter that comic or movie based video games tend to end up being. The developers have introduced an interrogation system that requires the player to force information out of a thug (such as the whereabouts of other thugs in other locations in the level) by using force. In order to interrogate an enemy you first have to grab him from behind. You can use an enemy as a human shield when other hostels decide to open fire (more on the enemy A.I. later in the preview) but youíll end up losing important information if they are shot to death. Youíre also given the option to instantaneously kill an enemy by pressing the X button. Aside from losing an opportunity for knowing where enemies are, the opportunity to get information out of a thug can be performed in a variety of brutal ways. In this version of The Punisher I was able to smash an enemyís face into the pavement, punch them, choke them, or feed him to a pool of man eating piranhas to attain information. When you are selecting one of the options with the left analog stick a meter is displayed on the screen showing the enemyís health and stress meter. As you continue to press up on the analog stick Castle will abuse an enemy, increasing his stress level and by pressing down on the analog stick will allow the enemy to remain calm in order to get him to talk. Although interrogation sequences in games these days are no longer groundbreaking, the different ways of executing them can be interesting as The Punisher has proved thus far.

The Punisher has an arsenal of weapons to take down enemies with. These weapons range from fragmentation grenades, machine guns, shotguns, and pistols. All the weapons can be dual wielded and even though it seems pretty unrealistic for someone to have a heavy shotgun in each hand, its still fun. When the Punisher is pissed enough he can go into a violent rage, allowing the player to throw two giant knives at foes by pressing the right trigger on the controller.

The Punisher so far has displayed a few flaws that hold it back from its potential greatness. The game tries to prevent itself from being just your ordinary run and gun shooter but many will find themselves doing that very thing, running and gunning down anyone sorry enough to stand in your way. The enemies are also just too easy to take down with any gun lying on the ground (even without the fact you have the ability to dual wield guns) meaning there are some serious balance issues. The enemy A.I. for the most part is pretty standard. Theyíll duck and cover when they need to but they donít realize youíre behind them until you bump into them. They enemies are not tactically advanced as other games, like Halo, but they could be smarter than what they are. The inclusion of the interrogation system, although its fun to use, seems to be gimmicky so far. So far there really is no actual reason to interrogate enemies for information other than to go upstairs to find easy to takedown thugs.

If these problems can be improved upon as the game progresses towards the end of its development, The Punisher may actually turn into something worth playing. But from what Iíve played so far, Iím not disappointed with The Punisher but Iím not blown away by it either. Will gamers be sorry playing through The Punisherís latest adventure? Only time will tell when the game draws near its release date this month.


 
Sunday, January 09, 2005 








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