Postal (Windows)

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Written by  :  Ye Olde Infocomme Shoppe (1691)
Written on  :  Apr 16, 2003
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  2.8 Stars2.8 Stars2.8 Stars2.8 Stars2.8 Stars

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One of my guilty little pleasures.

The Good

Everybody gets to have one game that they absolutely love despite the fact that it's puerile, mindless, technically unimpressive, and overall just not very good. Postal is mine.

The premise is very simple: You have a gun. You run around shooting people with it. Along the way you acquire better guns to shoot more people and cause greater mayhem. Oh, sometimes there's a voice in your head, too, that talks to you. ("He never liked you." "Let's blow something up!" "Only my weapon understands me.") Postal is an equal-opportunity employer: You murder both men and women (never children); whites and blacks; cops, military personnel, and civilians; and even the flightless, non-human residents of an ostrich farm.

The game is so ridiculously violent it's funny. Launch an incendiary weapon into the ranks of a marching band or a group of protestors, and watch them all scatter, waving their instruments and picket signs, screaming while on fire, until they collapse as charred corpses. Twisted, depraved fun. If your bathrobe-clad postal dude catches on fire himself he'll run around screaming too, unable to shoot, but you can attempt to run him into other people and engulf them in flames as well. The game also seems to have an uncanny sense of comic timing. At one point I was in the middle of a huge shootout, gunfire ringing all over, explosions, people screaming and dying... then it all goes silent, and after a perfect one-second pause, you hear this total redneck voice call out: "Whut'n the hell's goin' on here?" I almost asphyxiated from laughing so hard.

The Bad

Well, like I said above... It's puerile, mindless, technically unimpressive, and overall just not very good. The graphics are dated (even for the time) and the gameplay behaves like what you might expect from a typical shareware title. The AI is particularly lame at times. Sometimes a guy will just stand still and not even react while you pound him with bullets. Aside from a few standouts (truck stop, parade, protestors, ostrich farm, military base), there's a bland sameness to most of the levels.

I didn't care for the expansion pack at all. The additional levels were entertaining, but the new screams of anguish from your victims come across as too forced, trying too hard to be funny. And what's worse, it overwrites the original sounds, so you have to reinstall the game to get them back.

The Bottom Line

While not a particularlly well-made game by any standard, Postal is an excellent stress reliever. How many times have you wanted to do something like this, but your conscience got in the way? Postal is a unique simulation of the experience of being a mass-murderer. And isn't that the whole point of computer gaming, to be able to experience something you never could in real life?

P.S. I understand there's a 3D-based sequel in the works.