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Welcome back Frank by cyke Written on 30th March 2005

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my game of 2005
I like The Punisher in the same way that the Punisher likes his 5.56mm Assault Rifle.

When he really wants to hurt someone, he chooses it for the way the 5.56mm rounds, upon entry with the human body, will turn sideways and travel several inches through muscle and tissue before finally shattering. It's a bitch of a wound, and certainly leaves an impact.

Ladies and gents, its March. And i'm giving out my Game of the YEAR award .

I completed this game over a month ago now and I still miss it. It's still installed on my pc although there really is no good reason why.

When I see it on the shelves in other formats I lift a copy to have a look, though I dont know why.

For a happy period there, anytime I needed a good endorphine release from my brain, I guess I knew I could get it by dealing out a little punishment. Since winning the game, I'm going cold turkey (though deep down I'm hoping the developers will send the (hopeful) sequel back through time any day now).

It's really not often you get a game this well thought out. It scores high on the way it's obvious the developers cared about the title. It also scores high for all the little polishing touches it has which lets you know it wasn't shipped out the door before it was ready.

Overall, it's an experience. A very enjoyable, balanced, thought-out and satisfying experience. A jaded gamer like me doesn't get very many of these. Not since GTA3 or the original Wipeout for example.

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Franks outta coal
I wasn't expecting much. I'm a fan of the comicbook, and while the preview pics looked good, I wasn't about to allow myself a woody in anticipation. Too many preview pics turn out to be prickteases y'know?

But within moments of starting the game, you encounter the first of many little pleasant surprises that gives you pause to recognise that this is something a little bit special. Time after time I had a little "Eureka!" moment, and as I began to be almost overwhelmed by them I had to open the floodgates and admit I'd be looking for the adoption papers for this baby.

I don't want to give any of them away. But when a game has you laughing out loud at its crazy inventiveness, then it can only be a very good thing.

Importantly, the devs really did not pull their punches. It's a proper grown up game and not embarrased about it. It's not exploitational either, or controversial just for the sake of it. When a drug dealer looks out of the window, sees you in the alleyway and shouts "Fuck me, its the fucking Punisher" there's nothing unrealistic about it. It's simply the world and the environment that the character of Frank Castle lives in.

Nothing was compromised, nothing was rushed, nothing seemed half-implemented. As you hold a junkies head close to a giant buzzsaw you'll be thinking like me how well these little interrogation scenes worked out. You'll even wonder why the press haven't jumped on the violence in the game in one of their "Videogames made these kids violent" pieces, but deep down you'll be hoping they actually do as it always increases sales for the game titles that are witch-hunted.

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Head or glass? Which is tougher?
Besides, I'm at a stage in my life where there's a part of me that wishes I could deal with problems and bad people the way Frank does. I don't have kids (that I know of anyway) but frankly if i saw a drug dealer at the school gates, I wouldn't be a man if some part of me didn't want to paint a skull on a black t-shirt and go and take the dealers life before his products steal other peoples. Bluntly, games like this are a more healthy release than any real-life wish fulfillment and are as valid, if not more so than games where I jump on mushrooms and rescue Japanese schoolgirls or whatever. Mature themes, handled in mature ways should be noted as something that should be there to raise the bar of what we have a right to expect in "games for grown-ups".

Gameplay wise, I can't lie to you. It's a linear shooter, in the style of Max Payne. But you'll not really be aware of that as you'll be too busy being amused, entertained and generally incredulous at whats going on in this. It's hard to be bored in this colorful world, as you take human shields, shoot people in the heart at point blank range, interrogate the guilty, trade quips with psychotics and meet some of the other characters from the Marvel universe.

I'll sum up the review with the expression that I mentally spoke a thousand times in this game.

"Holy fuck!"


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