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Postal 3 Review

Postal 3 Review


Platform: PC, Xbox 360, PS3
Publisher: Akella
UK Price (as reviewed): £25.99 Incl. VAT
UK Price (as reviewed): $34,99 Excl. Tax

Bugs, flat-falling humour, woeful graphics, restrictive DRM and shoddy sound effects are just for starters. Honestly, it’s hard to know where to begin with Running With Scissors’ Postal 3; the litany of errors extends so far and runs so deep that we can only think of one thing to do – approach it alphabetically. Then, at least the list of problems can be as unsurprising as the issues themselves.

Action
It’s not surprising that Postal 3 marks a change in presentation for the series, eschewing Postal 2’s FPS format in favour of a third-person take on mass murder. After all, every new game in the trilogy has enacted a similar switch; but while Postal 2’s move from top-down to FPS was a step forward in at least a technical sense, Postal 3’s is anything but. It’s a move which feels like it was dictated by the trends of the industry and which ends up at odds with both the engine in use (Source) and the capabilities of the team.

Postal 3 is a terrible third person shooter, to put it plainly. You could rip out all the other flaws and boil it down to a mechanical prototype and it would still feel worthless. The still-nameless protagonist gaits clumsily around boxy, enclosed levels with the stiff, erratic movements of a tangled string puppet; hit-detection is ironically hit-or-miss and completing objectives often ends up a case of hunt-the-hotspot.

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Postal 3 - Click to enlarge

Weapons meanwhile suffer a similar fate, escalating further from Postal 2’s diseased cow heads and kittens-as-silencers to include insane badgers and weaponised catnip. There’s the suspicion that these insane oddities should occasionally lead to guilty giggles, but it’s clear that less effort has been put into their implementation as their concept. The same holds true with more familiar arsenal elements too; poor physics and shoddy detection makes urinating or pouring petrol on foes an exercise in frustration.

Bugs
Given that the violence which is Postal 3’s supposed main appeal is so poorly put together, it’s no surprise to find the game is technically sub-part too. Right from the tutorial - which looks dreary even to Britons like us and which involves fighting your way past about five of the laziest zombies ever - things started going wrong.

There are plenty of places where Postal 3's shameful lack of quality is evident, but the sound issues are definitely the most obvious and damning of them all. Some actions just seem not to have sound effects, while others don't quite sync up with the activities they should be attached to, such as pouring gasoline. Audio events are regularly lost against a background of poor levelling too, whether they are the Dude's random quips (See: COMEDY) or just ambient noise.

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Postal 3 - Click to enlarge

That these errors should show up even when Postal 3 is using Valve's Source engine makes their prevalence all the more damning too. Source is one of the most widely modded and tinkered-with pieces of technology on the internet. That bedroom modders can consistently create more stable and enjoyable games than the three professional studios responsible for Postal 3 is the only thing about the game which is surprising.

Even the press release which accompanied our review code contain info on how to avoid an obviously known but unfixed bug.

Decisions
Postal 3's only new feature over Postal 2 is that it offers two different paths; a good and bad path. The former involves working for the police force and mostly limits you to non-lethal weapons, while the latter removes such restrictions and encourages you to run riot. Unfortunately, while the introduction of alternate paths hypothetically improves Postal 3, the implementation is so bad that it ultimately doesn't matter which you choose. Which doesn't come as any surprise.