When I was asked to review POSTAL Redux I was rather sceptical upon watching the trailer. The twin stick shooter gameplay combined with co-op looked like it could be good for a laugh but the dull level designs and lack of any clear goals other than shoot everything made me doubt it. That is till I did some research which made me approach with more of an open mind. POSTAL Redux is a HD remake of a controversial 1997 game that spawned two sequels (the second of which drew in a big cult following), a number of spin-off titles and even a 2007 movie adaption.
We’ll start with fiendishly difficult Campaign mode where you would assume there would be some kind of story. Postal however doesn’t really go any further than a guy walks out of his house with a sub-machine gun and decides to go on a murderous rampage through his home town. Local thugs, Police officers, Swat teams, it doesn’t matter our man just wants to reduce the local population. Reduce it by 90% to be accurate, even civilians who run arms flailing and pleading for their lives and flocks of harmless Ostriches are not safe from his bloody onslaught. When the game first released it was supposed to be excessively violent which is evident in its finishers, where people crawl around crying until you blow their head off with a shotgun and our character delivers some cheesy one liners. You can see why the game was controversial 19 years ago, the imagery is rather graphic but it’s actual quite tame when you consider recent games such as Doom.
You start your carnage with a standard sub-machine gun with a limitless supply of ammunition but littering every inch of your cosy little town is a range of armaments to add fuel to your mayhem. A Revolver, Shotgun, even Flamethrowers and Missile Launchers are all obtainable but unlike your starting gun you’ll need to top them up on ammo. At your disposal are also sub-weapons such as Grenades and Molotov’s but I’d advise against using them. The gameplay runs at a fast pace, but sub weapons have your character performing slow animations before throwing it which takes you out of the action. It’s also enough time for enemies to run in off screen and interrupt you so apart from landmines they’re not worth bothering with.
In terms of controls they’re decent but not the best. It’s hard to determine where your shots will hit, when you have a killing shot a green reticle appears over the target but it’s not a clear marker and with everything moving around at a pace it means aiming is fiddly. It’s particularly noticeable when playing with a gamepad so you’re better off going with the more accurate keyboard and mouse set up. Another point that hinders the gameplay is what happens when you and enemies wander behind buildings and vehicles etc. You’re highlighted with a grey silhouette which against the games already dark gritty colour scheme doesn’t help.
So at this point it’s not looking very good for POSTAL Redux but there is one thing that redeems it even if it’s just a little. Rampage mode has the same objectives as Campaign but it throws in stacks of additional ammo, more scared civilians just for the fun of it and a kill steak multiplier. Here the gameplay is more addictive as everything moves along at a much faster pace, the controls still aren’t particularly good but they’re less noticeable. The sound used is also kicked up a notch, gunshots and screams are accompanied by an upbeat metal soundtrack which is surprisingly enjoyable when compared to Campaign where there’s simply nothing at all. Our protagonists’ quips are cheesy but they’re well done as is the rest of the voice acting. In Campaign some of the lines feel out of place but in the more frantic Rampage they somehow standout more and add to the new upbeat tone.
In POSTAL Redux you play from an isometric top down perspective, exploring a very average looking small American townscape. To freshen up the nearly 20 year old title, like you’d expect it’s been given the HD treatment with new textures and models. Environments are hand-drawn and the dark washed out colour scheme certainly give the game a moody atmosphere but they’re hindered by odd depth perception issues. Traversing levels is awkward as it’s not always clear what you can navigate around, through or over and it’s frustrating trying to find where you can safely throw a sub-weapon without it bouncing back at you awkwardly. Levels include a Truck Stop, Junk Yard and Mine all of which feel bland and unmemorable. The only interesting sections came in the later levels such as the carnival, which stood out because they add a nice splash of colour.
When POSTAL Redux flows at a fast pace it’s easy to get addicted to the bloody mayhem, but then a darkened figure kills you masked behind a building or a grenade stupidly bounces back at you from a stone and you’re pulled right out of the action. Getting used to the depth perception takes a lot of time, the shooting range is unclear and it’s a violent game that sadly isn’t very violent. Fans of the original and even the series may just get a kick out of this HD upgrade, for everyone else I just recommend sticking to Rampage and avoid the Campaign completely.
+ Fun when flowing at a fast pace
+ Rampage mode gets addictive
+ Good soundtrack and voice acting
– Depth perception issues
– Violent game that’s not violent
– Awkward aiming controls
This review is based off a review code of POSTAL Redux provided by Running with Scissors.