Check out our video review:
I think most players are more familiar with POSTAL 2 than the first game. I know I am. POSTAL 2 is crude, rude, offensive, and I love it. It’s a hilarious and controversial game that has no shame and is kept alive today thanks to constant support from the developers at Running With Scissors including recent DLC. I never really gave the original game a chance until now. In fact, the only reason I even played it was because Steam had POSTAL Redux on Sale and I thought “sure, what the hell”. I had already owned the original game and by that I mean the Steam version with support for modern hardware and full Xbox 360 controller support. With that said I am going to cover the original POSTAL and POSTAL Redux in this review.
As far as I can tell the story isn’t really developed as you play. You just run around and kill everybody. I’m guessing the story was established on the box or manual from the original retail release. I don’t own nor have I ever seen a physical copy so I have no idea. From what I’ve researched online, you’re playing as a schizophrenic man who has been evicted from his home. He believes the Air Force is releasing poison gas and only he is immune to its effects. So he decides to go postal. I’ll refer to him as the Postal Dude since that was the name given to the protagonist in POSTAL 2 and they’re both voiced by the same voice actor. There is no character development and the story is never really fleshed out. It’s definitely not the focus of the game.
I would say POSTAL is an isometric twin stick shooter even though a few levels are played from the top-down perspective. I’m not sure why those levels are top-down but that’s what it is. I used an Xbox One controller to play the original game and had no problems, however I couldn’t get the keyboard and mouse controls to work as I wanted. POSTAL Redux, on the other hand, supports both control types flawlessly. You go from level to level killing everybody in your way. Each level has the same objective and that’s to kill a certain percentage of hostiles before you can proceed to the next level. Hostiles include police officers, soldiers, and anybody with a weapon, really. Killing innocent civilians doesn’t count towards progression but there’s no penalty for killing them. You start out in your home town and blast your way through mostly rural environments like a Junkyard, Truck Stop, and Train Station. You will navigate through some urban areas like The Ghetto, Central Park, and a level just titled “The City”. The levels themselves are open so you’re not forced down a specific path but they’re small enough they didn’t really take me long to complete.
You’ll always be equipped with a machine gun that has unlimited ammo but does little damage and in POSTAL Redux it has a higher rate of fire. It’s actually a great weapon for long range and I found myself using it when I needed to hang back and pick off hostiles one at a time. Whenever I wanted to mow down innocent civilians I stuck with the machine gun since I’d rather not waste the ammo for the other weapons. Along with health and armor pickups, guns and ammo are also littered throughout each level. You’ll acquire a shotgun which is probably the most useful weapon since it can kill most enemies pretty quickly and ammo for it seems to be plentiful. Eventually you obtain a weapon called the “Spray Cannon” which is like an automatic shotgun and is definitely one of the most devastating weapons in the game. With it, you can blast away groups of enemies extremely quick. In the original POSTAL, the Spray Cannon shares ammo with the shotgun so I would only use it when I absolutely needed it but in Redux it was given its own ammo which is definitely for the better. The Rocket Launcher fires missiles and heatseekers making it another great weapon for long range. Because of the game’s isometric perspective, using the Rocket Launcher can be a pain. I found myself frequently firing missiles into objects rather than enemies because I wasn’t aiming at just the right angle. Then you got the Napalm Launcher and Flamethrower. Whenever enemies catch fire it’s an instant death so that makes these weapons the most efficient. The Napalm Launcher lobs a fire bomb, causing the area of impact to go up in flames. This is another weapon that exposes how the game’s perspective fucked me. I couldn’t always tell how far the bomb would launch and the impact leaves this fire trail and shooting at the wrong angle caused me to fire it in the wrong direction, too far, or not far enough which becomes frustrating so I wouldn’t use it often. But when I was able to use it effectively, it was awesome. Using the Flamethrower is the easiest way to kill people. I mean you just light them up. But I found that it eats up fuel way too quickly so it’s best used when you’re up against numerous enemies. You’ve also got grenades, molotovs, time bombs, and mines. POSTAL Redux adds a revolver which is another great weapon for long range attacks. It can also kill most enemies with one or two shots. Sometimes the enemies won’t actually die and will be crawling along the ground. This enables you to perform an execution. In the original POSTAL, the Postal Dude will always switch to the machine gun and blast a few shots into the person, killing them. It’s a neat touch but there’s no real benefit to it. In POSTAL Redux, each weapon has it’s own execution animation which makes it a little more interesting.
My biggest problem with the weapons is that most of them feel really weak and underpowered. It seems like I was pummeling enemies with hundreds of machine gun bullets before they went down and even a well placed shotgun blast at close range doesn’t guarantee a kill. The explosive weapons like the rocket launcher and grenades will kill an enemy instantly but it’s like they have no splash damage or blast radius making it rare that the blast would take out more than one enemy. So even if you fire a missile into a crowd of people thinking you’re going to see bodies fly every which way, I hate to disappoint you but you may only kill one or two people. Maybe the developers thought making the weapons more powerful would make the game too easy but I don’t think so. I played through the main campaign in each game on medium and while I didn’t find it too challenging, I still died quite a few times. After beating the original game I ramped up the difficulty to the hardest and could barely make it out of the first level. You’re required to kill more hostiles and they also carry better weapons.
I believe the game is supposed to be and is advertised as a dark experience but I honestly found it more humorous than anything. Especially the original game. The POSTAL Dude taunts enemies in his head with some funny lines and even the enemies and civilians will spout some funny stuff. Whether they’re screaming in agony or running around on fire the dialogue always managed to make me chuckle. I can’t really say that for the Redux version. The Steam page says it faithfully recreates everything including the dialogue but I don’t think that’s true. Yes, everything sounds better and you’ll here some of the same s**t but not all of the dialogue from the original is here. This really isn’t a huge deal as I’m pretty sure the game is supposed to be more dark than funny anyway but it’s just a shame POSTAL Redux removed some of the dialogue that made the original so humorous.
The original game was released in 1997 so it definitely shows its age but I was impressed with the visual style of POSTAL as a whole. Each environment looks as if it was drawn and colored in and it made me feel like I was playing through a very violent cartoon. I’m a huge fan of classic cartoons like Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry and growing up with cartoons from the ‘90s wasn’t so bad either. That’s really what this game reminds me of and that’s a good thing. Obviously POSTAL Redux has improved visuals but it still retains that unique look. Another benefit of the Redux version is that the character models don’t look as if they’re from an original PlayStation game, making it easier to see what enemies are supposed to be. It’s the little things added in Redux that I loved. The fire effects in particular really look awesome, the guns have this cool muzzle flash now, and there’s some cool lighting effects. It’s a shame there isn’t more, though. The animations are still kind of stale and I think more gore would have been cool. Execute a downed enemy with a shotgun, for example, and you’ll blow off their head off. See that’s awesome. But blow them up and they just fly up in the air and then hit the ground. I think some ragdoll physics or at least body parts flying around would have made the carnage that much more exciting. Both games start with some really dark and eerie music, even artwork, like for the menus and stuff but during the gameplay music is like nonexistent.
Now I’ll talk about some significant differences between the two games. The Steam version of the original POSTAL contains the 1998 expansion called “Special Delivery” which includes four new levels giving this release a total of twenty one levels. It’s just a shame that the expansion doesn’t really add anything more like new weapons. POSTAL Redux is missing the Special Delivery levels entirely but includes a new Carnival level with killer clowns. It’s cool and all but the clowns are just like every other enemy and they only appear in that one level. Apparently the developers plan to release the Special Delivery levels as free DLC for POSTAL Redux along with other future updates which is really cool. The original POSTAL contains an additional Gauntlet Challenge mode. You must meet specific conditions like killing as many people as you can in the allotted time, capturing all the flags, or staying alive until the timer runs out. You go from level to level completing these objectives and it’s a nice addition considering how short the campaign can be. POSTAL Redux includes a Rampage Mode where you go from level to level trying to achieve high scores. This is probably the best addition of Redux. You need to unlock each level by completing the previous one and I found going for a high score to be fun even though I suck horribly. You’re graded based on time, kills, and creativity and in this mode the levels have different enemies and more pickups making it much more frantic than the campaign. The Rampage Mode is, by far, better than the Gauntlet from the original but it’s odd that neither of these modes have leaderboards or anything. Not that it matters to me what other players’ scores are. It just seems odd.
One of my biggest issues with the original game is the fact that you can’t really see anything behind or around buildings. You can see the Postal Dude through a building if you decide to run behind one but you can’t see any enemies which can make the game feel cheap at times. Since you can’t see where the enemy is you could be getting raped with attacks and have no idea where the shots are coming from. Many times I would run into an alleyway in some of the more urban levels and would immediately get shot at because I didn’t realize there was an enemy there. It’s just frustrating. Luckily the Redux version solves this by including silhouettes of enemies that are behind buildings. One thing I love about POSTAL Redux is that there’s a setting to turn off bullet tracers. It’s a cosmetic change and probably doesn’t mean anything to most players but I love that.
The original 1997 game included multiplayer which was stripped out of the Steam release. POSTAL Plus was released in 2001 which included the Special Delivery expansion and even a level editor. For some reason the level editor was also stripped from the Steam release. It’s a shame that neither Steam versions of the original or Redux include a level editor, Steam workshop, or mod support of any kind. Because ultimately the biggest issue with this game is its longevity. The campaign is really short in length and I don’t think the Gauntlet or Rampage modes make up for its short length. I don’t really care about multiplayer but I think some additional modes would be nice. Maybe a campaign survival mode of sorts where if you die you need to start the campaign over, or maybe a mode where the enemy placements are randomized, just something to increase the replay value. While the Rampage mode in Redux is probably the greatest addition, it can only hold my interest for so long before I start craving more. One thing I love about the Rampage mode is it includes a level select so you could even re-play through your favorite levels if you wanted. I think that’s a feature that’s desperately needed in the campaign for both games. It’s little things like that that can help increase replay value. POSTAL 2 includes excellent mod support and has some great content from the community and since the developers are so focused on these two games maybe we’ll get some mod support down the line. Only time will tell.
You can definitely see how the developers at Destructive Creations were influenced by POSTAL when creating the game “Hatred”. But even they didn’t learn from some of the mistakes made here. POSTAL is a fun but short game that manages to come across as only existing for shock value when it can be so much more than that. The Gauntlet mode in the original game is fun but is easily outdone by the Rampage mode in Redux. Increasing the difficulty can extend the length of both games but only because it makes the games insanely hard but beating Redux on hard results in an alternate ending. So there’s that. The hope here is that Running With Scissors releases more content for POSTAL Redux and maybe even the original. Hopefully one, if not both, of these games will get the same love and attention POSTAL 2 gets. Yeah, mod support.