The Punisher is an action game which staring the Marvel Comics vigilante, The Punisher. After his entire family was murdered by the mafia, Frank Castle decides to devote his life to make sure that criminals get what they deserve. Players take control of The Punisher as he tracks criminals down through the criminal underworld. Some of the criminals you will be fighting include members of the Eternal Sun (think Yakuza) and of course the Russians.
The game also features several cameos from other characters in the Marvel Comics universe including Tony Stark (aka Iron Man) and Matt Murdock (aka Daredevil).
The game originally received an Adult Only rating from the ESRB due to the level of violence in some of the environmental kills. The developers changed camera angles to avoid letting the player see the full kill. This also allowed them to get a Mature rating. It is possible to return the Xbox and PC versions of the game to their original state via a small modification which significantly enhances the level of violence.
The Punisher opens with Frank Castle (The Punisher) being interrogated by Detective Soap and Detective Richtofen in Ryker's Island maximum security prison. Soap and Richtofen begin questioning Castle about his actions over the past three weeks which have all led up to this point.
The story then flashes back to three weeks previous when the player takes control of The Punisher, who proceeds clear out a crackhouse full of criminals. This eventually leads to Castle going to war against the local criminal organizations, namely an Italian family mob called the Gnucci's, a group of Russian mercenaries and the Japanese Eternal Sun Yakuza gang.
Over the duration of the game, the story switches between the past events and the current interrogation leading to a culmination of both.
- The Chop Shop
- Lucky's Bar
- Central Zoo
- Grey's Funeral Home
- Gnucci Estate
- Pier 74
- The Igor Baltiysky
- Castle's Apartment
- Grand Nixon Island
- Fisk Industries
- Pier 74 Revisited
- Meat Packing Plant
- Stark Towers
- The Takagi Building
- Ryker's Island
The Punisher is a mixture of third-person shooting and interrogation mini games, with an over arcing Tony Hawk style point accumulation system tying both together.
Much like The Club, the player is awarded points for each gang member/criminal they kill. The player is also awarded bonus points for successfully interrogating said criminals through a variety of means. There are also special "kill spots" within some levels that, when triggered, kills an enemy instantly, usually in a gory fashion.
At any time in a level The Punisher can grab an enemy and interrogate them to see if they have any useful information. The basic interrogation techniques take the form of "gun tension", " punch", "face smash" and "choke" which involve: threatening to shoot the interrogation victim in the face; punching them repeatedly; smashing their face against the floor (much in the style of a curb stomp) or strangling them with Castle's bare hands, etc.
More advanced interrogation techniques are available within a level based on the surroundings and are indicated to the player by a white floating skull. Players first have to grab an enemy and move over to the the skull to begin the interrogation. When finished, the player can decide to pull the enemy out of the interrogation object/action or conversely push the interrogation object/action meter too far, causing the enemy to die.
To unlock bonus content and new levels, The Punisher sets out a series of medals that have to be achieved within each level of the game by reaching a predefined score. The bronze, silver and gold medals are multiples of each other with the higher scores usually requiring more tactics to avoid taking damage and hence losing the current point combo.
In addition to the medals, The Punisher also has a challenge mode in which the player replays a scene from a specific level and must complete the challenge ascribed to them. This can involve completing the scene without taking damage or completing the level within a set amount of time etc.
If you have a modified Xbox either via soft mod or modchip you can modify the game and return it to its original state. There are many kill in the game that were censored so they wouldn't get an AO rating. The modification allows you to see the kills as intended by the developer and they are far more violent and gory. You can so modify the pc version to revert the games kills to their original state. Unfortunately there is no way to modify the PS2 version.
Throughout The Punisher you fight a wide variety of enemies. From simple thugs and drug dealers on the street, to the Powerful Russian Mercs. or the Eternal Sun Gang.
- Detective Martin Soap - A good cop who has had some bad luck. He has flashes of assertiveness, but backs down when challenged.
- Lieutenant Molly von Richtofen -To make it short and sweet, she gets what she wants.100% hardass.
- Nick Fury - Head boss guy of SHIELD
- Black Widow - Former KGB Spy.
- The Gnucci Family - Ruled by Ma Gnucci and bound by family ties. This is a typical mob syndicate that's into local crime.
- The Russian Mercs - Consisting of all Ex-Russian military, they control dockyards and shipping, smuggling assault rifles, high-end weapons, and explosives.
- Eternal Sun - A Yakuza syndicate that specializes in high tech crime with global connections. The group is tightly controlled with a strict hierarchy.
The (Very) Ugly
Throughout this game, you acquire a huge range of guns each with it's own advantage and disadvantage in combat.
- Machine Gun - " 30 Pounds of belt-fed, hip fired, Hell-On-Earth"
- 5.56MM Assault Rifle - Your basic assault rifle, think M4A1
- 7.62mm Assault Rifle - Think AK-47
- Automatic Shotgun - "Lead Breathing Dragon "
- Sniper Rifle - Boom! Head-shot
- Anti-tank Weapon - " Death in a disposable, 3 foot long tube "
- Flamethrower - You can shoot flames! Look at the pretty colors of burning flesh...
- Battle Rifle with Scope - Self Explanatory
- 5.7mm Submachine Gun - Think P90
- .40cal SMG - Think Mp5
- Pump Shotgun - "Click, Click, Boom... literally"
- Grenade Launcher - It's like a revolver... full of grenades
- Revolver - It's like a revolver... wait...
- Hand Cannon - " For times when size matters "
- .45cal Machine Pistol - Think Mac 10
- Machine Pistol 5.56mm - Think Dual Wield SMG'S
- .50cal Pistol - Thankfully you won't have to clean that mess!
- .45cal SemiAuto Pistol - Dual Wield Pistols: It's what badasses do.
The Punisher received mixed or average reviews with a Metacritic number of 69 from a range of 38 to 100.
The general opinion of The Punisher is that whilst the interrogation mini games are uniquely violent; this is the game's only unique feature surrounding an average third person shooter with a decent script.