By - George Weidman

Postal III Review

Postal 3 is one of the worst games I’ve ever had to play, and it knows. Running With Scissors has a long and troubled history of cultivating the most morally bankrupt game series of all time, and their unholy aspirations to offend have clouded their ability to make quality products. The third Postal is the most unpolished and unenjoyable entry in the series by a wide margin, and the game makes fun of itself for it. Thing is, the jokes ring so true that they aren’t funny at all. They come off as pathetic and sad.

This time, the developers decided to use the Source engine for some reason. I can’t imagine why– it’s downright ancient at this point, and is known as an infamously unwieldy development tool. I also can’t help but feel like they somehow thought that the engine would do their job for them, as evidenced by the eight-year-old sound effects, menus, and particle effects recycled from Half-Life 2. None of the quality animation or polish usually associated with Valve’s engine can be found here—in fact, it’s quite the opposite. Postal 3’s overall level of quality makes me want to cry.

My first impression: this is downright depressing. The lack of effort put into the presentation is felt immediately, and the game hates itself for it. Loading times are crazy long, and the menu is carbon-copied from Half-Life 2. Cutscenes have a grindhouse-style film grain and blast a cracking whip sound that punch-lines the lame jokes way too often. Textures are reminiscent of Silent Hill: they’re washed over with brown moldy overtones and compression artifacts. Even the tutorial messages are self-loathing. The joking reveal behind the regenerating health system looked like like it could have been self-parody, but came off as genuine embarrassment instead. “Good luck not hurting yourself in this AI clusterf**k!” said one briefing screen.

Postal III Review

The story smells like regret. This time, the Postal Dude (that’s his actual name, which the game thinks is hilarious,) is depicted as a heroically-depicted white-trash everyman. The story follows his quest for employment in the economically destitute town of Catharsis, Arizona. It’s divided into a mission-by-mission structure that sees him grudgingly signing up for a motley assortment of temp jobs, from cleaning sticky tissues off the floor of a sex shop to picking apples out in the hot sun. Reminder: it’s downright depressing.

Eventually, the mission-based game structure escalates Dude into jobs where he has to shoot bad guys. In any given mission, artificially simple objectives have to be completed to progress the story: 20 terrorists need to be neutralized, 10 rabid monkeys need to be set free, 6 scooters need to be delivered to the dealership, et cetera. At some point during each of them, someone usually needs to be shot. The game is less about going postal in a sandbox than it is about playing a straight-up objective-based shooter. Of course, this is because Postal 3 isn’t a sandbox game at all. Missions play out in tiny areas with simplistic goals, and they’re so limiting and contained that they would be mere mini-games in any other title.

During a heist scene early in the game we get to choose between helping out the cops or the robbers, which branches the storyline out into two different “good” and “insane” pathways. One sees Dude joining the police force and becoming a hero, and the other sees him joining an environmentalist cult and becoming a pariah. It’s a half-baked setup, free from consequences and player freedom. At the branching point, you have the ability to murder both the cops and robbers at the same time. But there is no third wheel, no neutral/homicidal branch. Simply killing everyone disappointingly sends Dude down the same path as if he had helped the robbers. Even halfway through the “insane” branch, you are given the sudden option to quietly switch sides over to the police force in-between levels.

Postal III Review

The only outlet for player choice within this framework boils down to whether or not you use a gun or a taser for the shooting. Make it through the game without killing anyone, and you get an alternate ending. It’s completely binary and, like the branching storyline mechanic, half-baked. Stunning bad guys with the taser is almost exactly like shooting them, the primary difference being that it doesn’t fill up your “insane” meter.

The most nauseating thing about this game isn’t the insipid attempt at black humor, the repetitive and laborious mission objectives, or the juvenile angst that frames the story. It’s the unfinished state of the final build.  You hear birds chirping and wind blowing indoors. Unseen arcade machines beep and boop in barnyard haystacks. The cover system plants Dude in the path of bullets. Cutscenes don’t correspond with your actions in-game. Chunks of building architecture clip into thin air. A weird “Node graph out of date” message appears every time after loading. Some objectives didn’t complete until I re-started the mission. At one point mid-game, the game was crashing to desktop on a minute-by-minute basis until I painfully completed the level by attrition.

The incompleteness of the game isn’t just technical– there’s a distinct lack of assets, too. From the absence of in-game music to Dude’s tiny repertoire of one-liners that nevertheless repeat ceaselessly, every minute of Postal 3 is punctuated by the feeling that something is missing. The most glaring laziness came during the last few cut scenes, where characters stood dead-still, and only moved their mouths and eyebrows. There’s no doubt about it: it’s deliberately bad.

Postal III Review

Is It Worth Your Money?

No way. I can’t come to grips with how bad it is. I just can’t. Maybe it’s all a cruel joke? Maybe the developers deliberately intended to piss the player off, and are encouraging them to go postal and massacre the virtual civilians. But even then, there’s no real in-game incentives or punishments to facilitate rule-breaking gameplay. What were they trying to accomplish with this game?

It’s such an unpolished, amateur, and misdirected attempt at making a game that it’s almost surreal. They didn’t even proofread. I can’t believe that Running With Scissors, a 15-year old game developer rooted in the SNES era, has forgotten so much about how to make games. Maybe this is because they left so much of the game up to other companies. Development was outsourced to two Russian game studios, Akella and TrashMasters Studios, which ended up leaving Running With Scissors with the title of “co-developers.” Combine all this outsourcing with a six-year development cycle rife with financial meltdowns and a lack of any major publisher, and you have a recipe for disaster.

Postal III Technical Summary:

  • Time Played – 10 hours
  • Widescreen Support – Yes
  • 5.1 Audio – Yes
  • Bugs – Too many to list here, encountered too frequently to not mention.
  • DRM – Steamworks, manual key entry
  • Control Scheme – Mouse & keyboard
  • Game Acquisition Method – Review Copy
  • Availability – Retail, Direct2Drive, Steam keys available here,
  • Demo – No

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  • Anonymous

    Scammed out of 40 bucks.

    Problem?

    • http://truepcgaming.com Adam Ames

      Pretty much. I thought about the Chris Jericho non-promo (if you are a wrestling fan) on Monday when I read the review. Pretty sad either way.

      • Anonymous

        its a waste of money, its not even fun to go wasting dudes no more in this perspective. Youre getting way to much told what to do next. Youre waiting for so many years to get served this kind of cold dish, uwe boll my ass, i start playing pacman again, ist so much more fun. damn, how you want to tell people to actually buy games instead of downloading if you deliver such a crap.

  • Anonymous

    What’s even more ridiculous is the fact that, being a Postal fan, I actually bought the Boxed copy straight from RWS, and the damn disc doesn’t even work! I got an email shortly after ordering the game to inform me that the replication process they used to make the retail discs BROKE EVERY SINGLE DISC 1 of the game they had manufactured.

    Disc 1 will NOT install the game due to this manufacturing error, so you have to install the 3GB from disc 2, enter the CD key, and down the other 14GB from Steam, which took a good day and a half for me.

    And then playing the game, ugh. Needless to say I’m pissed off, as both a gamer and a Postal fan. I’m done, RWS. I hope your whole company goes under for this.

    • http://truepcgaming.com Adam Ames

      I am very sorry to hear that. I really have no words to describe this game and the sad controversy surrounding RWS. It is times like this where being a PC gamer has a major drawback simply because there is no way to recoup any of the purchase price.

    • georgeweidman

      Damn, it hurts just reading that. RWS has put up with a lot of crap this year, but some of it is from decisions they’ve made themselves. It’s sad to wathc, really, and I hope they get their act together again soon. Considering their trade though, we may never know what a competently-made RWS game looks like.

  • Anonymous

    The troll is strong in this one.

  • John Matrix

    I kind of enjoyed Postal 2, but this one just looks and sounds really bad.

  • Gav

    & People thought Duke was bad, I ordered directly, but I waited for them to send me a working copy, well by working the most stable thing is the install ironically. Something people have left out is that I thought there were waaay too many cutscenes aswell. A lot of the time it would have been nice to have more control. For example did we really have to be forced to watch the mayor’s speech before Vince rang? It be funnier to stumble across it making one say to oneself “doesn’t that guy look like the guy from the porn shop???”. Anyway to end they should have stuck with the unreal engine, I don’t know how long Postal 2 took but for the time its taken for this it is totally lacking in all areas, including the areas.

    • georgeweidman

      The cutscenes were all pre-rendered, too. I don’t know the gory details, but I’d imagine that it would be easier to just pose the models once and make a movie out of it than meticulously script out a speech scene that has the potential for player interruption. As a result, player freedom is stifled and the presentation of the game suffers. It just seems so lazy for sequel that’s eight years past its predecessor…

  • Paul

    I enjoyed Postal 2, it was just so out there and different from other games…great fun for 5 hours or so. This however looks pretty horrible …

    • georgeweidman

      I have it filed under my “guilty pleasures” bin. Don’t tell mom! It was still really rough around the edges, but there wasn’t much else out there like it. It had its own (unholy) place in the gaming world. This one, however, is much too derivative to take the same place.

  • http://www.pcgamingstandards.com Frosty

    This is another sad case of developers really tripping up and releasing a game that ideally should have been canned, exactly the same with DNF.

  • http://gravatar.com/cwook cwook

    Node graph out of date? That’s a noob Source modder mistake. All it requires to fix it would be to include a file that is AUTOMATICALLY created when they compile the map!

    • georgeweidman

      Yeah, I think you’re on to something. I remember seeing that message on a few custom CS:S maps back in the day. I have a feeling that Postal III didn’t receive much playtesting, and it’s almost like they planned to do more beta-testing during the weeks after release than during the actual development period.

  • http://ghostsngames.wordpress.com jdwohlever

    ” every minute of Postal 3 is punctuated by the feeling that something is missing ”
    Well, after playing the first Postal and Postal 2 way back when, I can tell you what is missing.
    Common sense and any sense of decency from the developers.
    After seeing that their plot points are basically making fun of every group of people on the planet, to racist overtones and borderline hate-group talk, I have no respect for the developers of Postal.
    Postal the game is geared towards the lowest common denominator in our country who gets a kick out of childish jokes and pranks, while treating woman like objects, homosexuals as inhuman creatures, and ethnic races as unworthy of respect. No one over the age of 5 would find much, if any, value in any of the Postal series unless your a member of the KKK, Nazi’s or other such ilk.

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  • Mitch

    Just finished playing it for 4 hours.

    Not worth 40 dollars. Fuck noooo maybe worth 10 dollars i just ripped myself off.
    It was reminescent of the first do but, as everyone says, not a sandbox game. Cutscene afte cutscene they force you to watch instead of do. broke my immersion as this is the time I allow myself to go postal. ( Throwing HIV infested cats at my enemies, and sometimes just passerbys ) This game is worth it if you have a dark sense of humour like me. You have to separate realistic morales to enjoy the game.

    I love indulging in psycotic sandbox like scenarios. I know for sure I won’t go postal but this game allows some modicom of release from the daily “rules” of human-to-human interaction. I mean, don’t you wanna whip out you’re dick and piss on the granny who cut in line?

    TL;DR – Be psyco for some time, still feel like you lost money though :(

    {6/10}

  • Anonymous

    Not even worth 5 dollars.

  • http://www.yourface.com Snurp

    I actually bought it and after that long of a wait it wasnt good but wasnt bad, it is still pretty fun and im waiting for mods to make it better, with a first person mod it will be like postal 2 only a little better, the amount of weapons is insane but lack of gore is lame, decapitations are fun as shit and im glad that the cats are back, I say if your a true fan give it a try and if it dont get better with the mods than screw RWS. Plus how stupid are they not to include multiplayer with launch, major screw up.

    • http://truepcgaming.com Adam Ames

      I am sure MP would have been just as terrible.

    • georgeweidman

      If anything else, mods and patches may be the only thing capable of saving this game. How does the modding scene look so far?

      • John

        nothing much yet, mostly just code changes, still waiting for the to release a SDK

  • ThisBytes

    Buying? Are you kidding me? This is not even worth downloading via torrents. Good god! Giant bitter pill to swallow for us suckers who waited so many years… for THIS? Does it even cathegorise as a game? So MAYBE just maybe i can get over the glitchy graphics and the lousy hit detection but it just isn’t enjoyable, it’s like every single mission feels like a chore, you just want to get it over with so that MAYBE just maybe the next one will be somewhat enjoyable. But no… not a damn thing that’ll give you any pleasure. Where’s the great sequel to Postal II everyone was expecting? This can’t possibly be happening can it?!

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1609415101 Joe Patone

    Well, my non-Facebook log in didn’t post, so let’s see how this goes. To repeat my review:

    Jesus CHRIST, what a colossal piece of warthog shit this “game” is! I waited all that time for THIS? Is this some sort of sick joke? Is there a cheat code to make it FUN? First of all, the graphics are laughable, as well as the physics and target accuracy, given the game technology that has advanced over the near decade since Postal 2. Second, the mission-based “fun” locks you into doing anything remotely creative, in other words, there is no sandbox game play! HINT: Missions are OK, as long as you can go sandbox if you want. Another hint: That’s why GTA IV was so fucking successful (in addition to the graphics, mind-blowing physics, and overall free-for-all havok)! Third, there are so many glitches that a statistician wouldn’t be able to keep track of them. FOURTH, oh wait, three strikes – you’re out!

    DO NOT BUY THIS GAME! DO NOT WASTE YOUR TIME DOWNLOADING IT ILLEGALLY, EITHER! It will prove to be a waste of time and/or money, and will use up precious hard drive space!

    Here’s how bad it is: even with cheat codes like god mode and all weapons, it still sucks necrotic donkey balls. I hope every publisher and developer involved with this POS goes out of business!