PSN Review – The Punisher: No Mercy
The dark world of Frank Castle and Marvel returns to gaming, using Epic’s Unreal engine 3 and taking advantage of a completely different genre than its predecessor. The game brings a few features that we haven’t seen in gaming for a while, i.e. unlockables for which there are over 100 of. But is this game Punishable, or does it show mercy in the end?
The story is told through short cutscenes made up of comic book scenes, which were drawn and written by Mike Deodato. It’s important to note that Deodato has experience working on a few other Punisher comics, as well as other big franchises from Marvel and DC. While this should instill some degree of confidence, the story is shockingly bad. It probably fits somewhere in the Punisher universe, but I have no idea why I was asked to hunt down Jigsaw. Did this guy murder Frank’s wife and kids? Did he disgrace Frank at a game of poker? The way the game is written, it’s impossible to know.
However if you like the style of Punisher, you’ll probably like how the story is presented, as the overall structure is similar to that of a comic book. The art style, although not as interesting as other titles, is dark, broody and suits the character well. The story takes 30 minutes to complete and offers just over 20 minutes worth of gameplay. The story is split into 4 chapters, which goes to show just how small the story is. And considering the fact that comicbook style cutscenes are used shows how barebones this game is.
For those who have played Unreal Tournament 3, you’ll probably have a good idea of how Punisher: No Mercy is built. The short single-player campaign is essentially a tutorial for the online mode. It’s a warmup that didn’t recieve much differentiation from its corresponding online mode. Though the Punisher: No Mercy does have a lot of features packed into its small, 400 MB download, it looks and plays exactly like a UT3 mod.
The weapons are more reality-based than those from Unreal Tournament, but as with UT the levels are full of power ups, such as bonus points, health packs, and shield pickups. This applies to both single-player and multiplayer. There are 15 weapons split into four categories: Sub-Machine Gun, Shotgun, Pistol, and Rifle. There are also hidden weapons that require 200 kills in multiplayer to unlock, such as the Crossbow and Grenade Launcher. Each of these weapons have their own set of upgrades, which often make the item lighter. This in turns speeds up the character’s movement, though to be honest there aren’t that many characters to choose from.
Seeing as how the multiplayer mode only supports 8 players at once, the developers only created 8 characters to choose from. Customization of these characters is boiled down to strictly weapons and powerups, not visual appearance. Powerups are similar to the perk system seen in Call of Duty 4. There are over 10 abilities available to choose from, for a total of two mods for your selected character. One becomes an Active mod, while the other becomes a Passive Mod.
Both options have a degree of usefullness, especially active mods, which can turn a boring match into something a little more fun, with players having a set time limit on Invulnerability and Invisibility. The game modes included are
Vigilante, Team Deathmatch, Punish the Punisher, Elimination, Time Trial and Survival. There are 8 multiplayer maps included, which is pretty good number. It’s just too bad that the matches are boring and subject to framerate drops when the action ramps up.
There isn’t anything particularly fun about this game. The single-player campaign is an absolute joke, and only lasts for about half an hour. And on top of that, it’s really just a tutorial for the multiplayer modes. The difficulty level is fine, but don’t play against the A.I. as it pales in comparison to human opponents. It really isn’t worth a purchase unless you a die-hard FPS fan. I recommend staying away from this, even if you enjoy reading the comics.
PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score
Good weapon selection, but lackluster gameplay and bad enemy A.I.
Feels like a UT3 mod based on Punisher, not a Punisher game.