It's over-the-top, violent, disturbing, insane, and I love it.
"We'd like to express our sincere thanks and gratitude to the Honorable Senator Liebermann of Connecticut for including POSTAL in his list of the three worst things in America. First place went to POSTAL, second place was Marilyn Manson, and third place went to Calvin Klein underwear ads. " - Ripcord Games
Despite the dated graphics as well as gameplay, Postal is still widely considered one of the most controversial games of all time. A quick Google search will lead you to countless lists of controversial games and Postal (or it's equally nasty Postal 2) is on almost every list. While the game has dated quite a bit since it's release in 1997, it's still just as disturbing, violent, and, believe it or not, fun over a decade later. Ok, maybe not quite as fun, but the deranged, psychopathic feel of the game still hold up after all these years.
As most of you that have played Postal know, you play The Postal Dude. This guy must have a pretty shitty life, because upon returning home from somewhere one day, he discovers that he's being evicted, which sends him over completely over the edge, causing him to turn into a serial killing maniac. And that's when you come in. You play The Postal Dude as he goes from city to city killing everyone in sight.
A lot of reviewers state Postal as being a funny, over-the-top ultra-violent game, but I do not understand these reviews. Postal is actually really creepy. Unsettling, as well. The most unsettling element being the atmosphere of the game. The sound effects are...beyond words. The main menu has background music that is pretty much 20 seconds of some of the most disturbing sound effects I've ever heard endlessly looped. The loading screens also feature similar sounds and it's really messed up. In the later levels of the game, you begin to hear strange buzzing sounds and feedback sounds playing in the background. It gives you a strange feeling of insanity that continues to grow as you progress through the game.
The Postal Dude's diary entries, displayed during the loading screens, are little glimpses into The Postal Dude's psychopathic mind and can be pretty gruesome. Apparently, he believes that everyone on the planet is possessed and needs to be cleansed or, in other words, brutally killed. The game even has the useless, yet strangely eerie option to commit suicide. It's all very bleak and....well, unsettling. I can't help but repeat that word, because I can't think of any other words to describe this game.
The gameplay is nothing revolutionary. It's actually really simple and a lot of fun. From an isometric top-down third-person perspective, you go from town to town with an arsenal weapons, laying waste to everyone and everything. You can't jump, but you can duck. You can strafe, but you can't look up or down. There is no use or activate button of any kind, letting you know that there isn't a single door or lever to open or pull. No keys either. The only items you can pick up in the game are health, armor, or ammo. The simplicity of the gameplay makes the game feel almost arcade-ish. It's just straight endless killing and slaughter from beginning to end. My only complaint is the length of the game. It's very short. You would think that the simple gameplay would make it easy to design a huge amount of levels, but sadly, this is not so.
As the quote above shows, Senator Joe Lieberman had an undying hated for Postal. He even decried it to Congress in hopes of getting the game banned in the United States. While it was never banned in the U.S., it was banned in quite a few other countries and still banned to this day. Whether it's the violence or the gameplay, Postal was and is most likely to divide most gamers. The game is unflinchingly gory and violent and definitely isn't for the easily offended and those who can take and even enjoy the violence will probably be turned off towards the simple gameplay. But to me, Postal is a classic. It's a violent, disturbing journey into the mind of a psychopath and it doesn't bullshit. It goes ALL the way. It's over-the top, gory, violent, sadistic, disturbing, unsettling, eerie, insane, creepy, ugly, bleak, deranged, vile, psychotic, and I love it.