omali's Postal III (PC) review

Everything About Postal 3 Feels Fake

Postal 3 does to the Postal series what Duke Nukem Forever did to Duke Nukem: Managed to take concepts that couldn't realistically be disappointing, and manages to disappoint all the way to the bank. Like a pizza sundae, Postal 3 is a mixture of delicious ingredients thrown together to come out with a sloppy, messy concoction that feels more like a poor community mod of Postal 2's Apocalypse Weekend on the Source engine rather than an actual game by Running With Scissors.

Postal 3 feels fake, right from the start when you see "developed by TrashMasters Studios." Rick Hunter, voice of the Postal dude in the previous title, does not come back to reprise his role. Rather, Corey Cruise takes on a mix between the old Dude and Duke Nukem, with most of his catch phrases being either slightly altered or repeated verbatim from Postal 2. Like the Postal film, Postal 3 brings in an odd assortment of "celebrities," from Randy Jones (cowboy from the village people), Ron Jeremy, Uwe Boll, and Sergey Mavrodi, the largest Ponzi Schemer in Russia. Uwe Boll isn't even voiced by Uwe Boll!

Postal 3 plays out more like a grindhouse rendition of Apocalypse Weekend than the open world game that was Postal 2, in that there is no travel between zones until you complete story objectives. All of the action takes place in a third-person shooter feeling closer to Gears of War than anything. The Dude can take cover, shoot blindly, vault over cover. The controls are clunky and unresponsive, nowhere near the smooth fluidity of Postal 2.

Looking for cash to buy gas for his continued escape from Paradise, the Dude and Champ find themselves in Catharsis and its population of stereotypes. Your first job has you cleaning used napkins from a porn shop (the customers all have colds or something, according to the Dude) with a high powered vacuum when the store is overrun by hockey mom protesters (lead by a Sarah Palin lookalike). Certain missions allow you to change sides, and the side you pick has an impact on where you go next, making for a decent level of replay value.

Devolving from Postal 2, P3 features a wide array of useless weapons, perhaps the most disappointing aspect of the game. Weapons like the machete and sledgehammer, once tools of destruction and dismemberment, are barely functioning in their present state, failing to slice or smash, and the slow speed that the machete moves at when thrown is just useless. Headshots register with weapons far better than in Postal 2, but thrown items (grenade, molotov) feel far more concentrated and less powerful than their predecessor. You also have a wide array of non-lethal weapons to use against your enemies, including a fart gun, pepper spray, and tazer. These allow you to take the good path and simply knock out your foes rather than kill them outright, but they function the same: hold down fire until they fall. The melee weapons have shoddy hit detection, and will often not register a hit. The famed badger saw is a detriment in most situations, as the length it requires you to stand still will wind up with you being gunned down in most situations.

The humor is one of the only somewhat redeeming values of Postal 3, and Running With Scissors does not fail to bring in the same stupid comedy we all feel bad for laughing at. Characters and store names like "Stu Pidaso," "Lt. Deutschbagge," "Mayor Chomo (Chomo means child molester)" and the "thegways" (Segway with a lisp). Many of the jokes presented are really only worth the reaction of "of course they would be." For instance, the Mexi-Asian gangster cooks who don't appreciate you stealing all of the neighborhood AIDS-infected cats. The cats are aids-infected? Of course they would be. Al Qaeda posing as Mexicans to more easily get into the country? Of course they would be. The mayor (Chomo) has a slave boy wearing a Gary Coleman mask? Of course he does.

Apart from being unstable, with regular crashes to desktop under the popular "process has stopped responding" bug that plagues the Source engine, I noticed many of the achievements with Postal 3 not properly updating or registering, including a few achievements that involve completing portions of the story mode or killing certain groups with certain weapons. Firefights regularly turn into insane clusters of guns firing everywhere, making the game more difficult on the "good path" when accidentally shooting that cop who sprints into your line of fire means getting thrown off the police force, or when a large group of foes is thrown into a tightly packed corridor and proceed to gun you down in the span of two seconds.

If you're going to sink money into a Postal game this Christmas, buy Postal 2 and its expansions and install the A Week in Paradise mod so you can play the full game through and use the Apocalypse Weekend weapons (with dismemberment) in the original week. It might not be any more stable than Postal 3, but it offers far more gameplay with the same jokes.

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