117 Reviews liked by narc


there are two common types of over the counter cough syrups:
one has DXM, which is an experience like NiGHTS
the other has DPH, which is an experience like creating Balan Wonderworld and getting arrested for insider trading
Know The Difference, Stay Safe

I don't think it's possible to make a "true" sequel to Postal 2 nowadays.
I'm not talking about the offensive humor or the minutiae of its small-scale sandbox and the chaos it lets you indulge in. What makes Postal 2 an exceedingly tricky game to follow up on is the era in which it was produced. Postal was created in the era of outrage. The finest example of this would be Grand Theft Auto and the numerous outrages it spawned at the time. But GTA never let you put a cat's ass on the barrel of your shotgun or go around peeing on people until they vomited. For all of its attempts at humor, Postal 2 was made in poor taste purely to get attention, and it worked wonders. Its content has slightly more historical merit in this medium than, 'hey, wasn't that the game that got banned in several countries?'—at least, if you're in America. It's thanks to Postal 2 that the M rating comes with two separate labels for violence outside of the Cartoon and Fantasy parameters, 'Violence' and 'Intense Violence.'
The problem now is that things don't "work" that way anymore. If there's any game in the past fifteen years that changed how Americans look at the way their games are rated, it's arguably Manhunt 2, and that's only because of how many politicians petitioned for it to get an Adults Only rating. Outside of that, which is small-beans compared to the irreversible change to the American rating system caused by Postal 2, there hasn't been much on offer. In the past ten years, you'd be hard-pressed to find another game like that. The closest analog is Hatred, which caught fire for treating Mass Shootings with more leeway than Uwe Boll. In a sense, Hatred almost surpasses Postal 4 in terms of relevance, if only because it mirrors the hellscape many Americans have constantly lived in fear of for over two decades at this point. Making a game about a mass shooting on that scale and not marketing it to outright weirdos who get off to the sight of Japanese school uniforms is like a cheat code for making your game controversial. Twenty years ago, it was prudent to assume that any game that let you kill droves of nameless, faceless NPCs was a straight ticket to hell, much, in the same way, D&D was for the greater part of the 80s' Satanic Panic kicked off by the detestable con-woman Beatrice Sparks. All you have to do now is go through a Post Malone phase and put on this façade of having to say something "important", even if the only words you're saying constitute little more than shock value printed on the half-price pulp that the National Economic Registry hastily rejects in secret, and people will try their damnedest to take you seriously. Jack Thompson is dead.
This is the precise predicament that Postal 4 finds itself in: after its developer sold its soul to the Russian equivalent of Electronic Arts, an act only decried by ardent fans and the developers' post-mortem, the goalpost had moved. When your live-action adaptation only makes headlines because very few people find it funny, and the quotes you're cherry-picking from for marketing revert back to calling it a weaker version of South Park... what's the point? By the time Postal 4 was released in early access, it had been several years since a room full of critics applauded the Kevin Smith movie where Dante Hicks and Randal Graves argue about whether or not going ass-to-mouth is justified for minutes on end. Good Boys, a 2019 movie about children, had a trailer so perverse and explicit that I could see my dad physically recoiling in his seat whenever a trailer for it showed up in the theater we were at. To say that the shtick that worked in 2003 is something that would only spark protest from The Vegan Teacher in 2022 is being exceptionally polite.
On top of all of this... Postal 4's just not very fun. Okay, I'll admit that Postal 2 isn't exactly a high watermark for the medium as a whole. But to say that that's all it is is a reduction. It's dumb fun dry-aged in gold leaf. Once you crack through its shell, the center you're left is with is something that doesn't have much appeal outside of being a digital stress ball with piss-and-shit jokes and a cameo from Gary Coleman, but cutting right to the center is missing the point. It's fun to look around and find new weapons, find your way across the labyrinthine map to buy a Christmas tree in the middle of July, and play around with the surprisingly reactive world in front of you. Sure, it doesn't have the taste of something like Grand Theft Auto, and shivering behind all of the things that I like about it is just about the trashiest game I've ever played, but it's got replay value. What value does riding a mobility scooter across a map that's too large to entertain for more than a second have? "Grand Theft Auto had cars, and now so do we" is the exact mindset that Running With Scissors mocked in Postal 2, and it's something that's shamelessly regurgitated here without any of the wit or subversiveness seen previously; it's in here because Postal 2 had it, and if it's something they can reuse, self-awareness is off the fucking table. The combat's fun, but the AI somehow lags behind a game twenty years its senior. If you really, really want more Postal 2 to the point where you barely have any standards, look no further, but this is the exact kind of reduction that I warned against with nothing to dress it up.
It's not much of an Emperor's New Clothing for Running With Scissors to be met with derision, it's what they based their brand on. Hell, they're marketing this game right now with the 1/10 that GameSpot gave it. Here's where I suggest something completely different: Postal 4 is not only a weaker game than its predecessor; it's also a lazier one. Right down to flaunting the critical reception like a badge of honor! The more things change, the more they stay the same, but in this case, boy howdy have things not changed at all.
Want to make a proper sequel to Postal 2? Forget the apocalypse, forget a contemporary setting, forget mobility scooters and jokes about Karens and that one Tiger King guy and also COVID. None of that is relevant, and you might as well be making a game in another series if you believe it is. Postal built its brand of regression, and the funny thing is, it worked. Not one-hundred-percent, but I guarantee you that the first two games in this series are far more timeless than this will ever be. As I said, it was the era of outrage. 3D had only been a thing for one-and-a-half generations prior, and with video games only being readily available to the consumer for two to three decades, it's easy to argue that aspects of the medium were still in their infancy. Postal wasn't infamous for how good its gameplay was or how particularly shocking it was, it was part of a wave of digital entertainment that set a precedent. Decades apart, speaking about how regressive the series was is speaking about history.
If they wanted to make a true Postal 4, they had to embrace that. Set it back in the early 2000s, or, hell, late 90s. Make it a commentary on the crazed American politics that fueled both games with the stunning insight that such a large gap in time has caused, while also paying mind to the new wave of gaming it was a part of. You don't need a massive map or aspects that feel appropriated from other, much better contemporary titles. Fuck struggling to catch up, this should have been behind.
I know it comes off as pompous and arrogant to readily assume that you could do better than someone else when creativity is involved. Especially in game development, dick-swinging is what typically leads to developers slaving away for years and, in some cases, over a decade on something that might not work out in the end. But consider how fascinating it would have been if Postal 4 actually embraced its roots instead of chasing the bitter aftertaste that III left in everyone's mouth. I'm sure the developers would know; their CEO was unironically tweeting before the 2020 election about how Joe Biden should be thrown in Guantanamo Bay for crimes that haven't been proven.
At least I bought these games before discovering the developer's Twitter...

Mafia

2002

The Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (ChNPP), officially the Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov Lenin Nuclear Power Plant, is a closed nuclear power plant located near the abandoned city of Pripyat in northern Ukraine, 16.5 kilometers (10 mi) northwest of the city of Chernobyl, 16 kilometers (10 mi) from the Belarus–Ukraine border, and about 100 kilometers (62 mi) north of Kyiv. The plant was cooled by an engineered pond, which is fed by the Pripyat River about 5 kilometers (3 mi) northwest from its juncture with the Dnieper

Doom

2016

Ov yeaaa gangsta madafakaa ovyeaaa fak yu men fak yu ov yeaaa sak may dick broo ovv yeaaa gangstA life thug life

Oni

2001

Very empty, frustrating, often quiet levels and a by-the-numbers action story/characters. That said, I love the combat system to bits and I've replayed this game multiple times just to get into it.
It's hardly the level of a fighting game, or even something like Devil May Cry or Bayonetta, but it feels like one of the best translations of the old beat-em-up formula in both combat and difficulty. You constantly feel like you're barely scraping by; every single health pack feels like a blessing and just when you think you're getting the hang of things, the enemies get significantly harder and the spaces between checkpoints feel more and more brutal. I still don't feel particularly good at this game but it's immensely satisfying when you learn to overcome the insane challenges and there's a surprising amount of versatility in how you can beat them.
I also deeply love the clear Otaku influence all over this game. The whole thing is just a big celebration of anime tropes including poor attempts to accurately replicate the traditional manga/anime artstyle and a protagonist that borders on copyright infringement - this could easily have been a licensed Ghost in the Shell game in another timeline.
Flawed as fuck but I really like this a lot despite everything. Has an active modding community!

My favorite game of all time – what makes Persona 3 truly special isn't its individual qualities but how they interplay and work together as a whole. There are games that surpass Persona 3's merits one by one, but as a single cohesive work of art there truly isn't anything else like it.
Persona 3 has the sort of message that's meant to be heard by certain people – coming hot off the dating sim and visual novel craze of the early 2000s and deconstructing some of their greatest cliches while also embracing exactly what makes them appealing to so many people, Persona 3's narrative and its protagonist's story of opening up to the world around him and embracing life while it lasts is incredibly resonant and continues to mean the world to me and many others some fifteen years on.
If you're looking for a mechanically tight JRPG experience you might best look elsewhere, as Persona 3 isn't a game that intends to impress by gameplay alone. However, if you want a JRPG that makes the most of its mechanical quirks to help convey its message and portrays a theme of hope and determination against a bleak cyberpunk backdrop, then this game is definitely worth its 80+ hour runtime.
EDIT: Per request I've elucidated a little bit on two of the major points of this review in the comments below.

How can a game be so mindboggling, charming, terrifying, frustrating, and intriguing at the same time? I don't even know myself, but the way killer7 can be all of these things and still serve as a completely fresh experience is beyond me.
Just playing this game is an absolute joy, while also being a nightmare as well. At first, the odd control scheme can throw people off at first. I mean, how would a game where you press one button to move be interesting? But as you finish that same first chapter, it feels like second nature, and has engraved its way into your muscle memory.
The sound design is absolutely chilling as well. The Heaven Smiles have devious laughs, sounding childish, but also very creepy in a way. There were too many times where their shrieks caught me off guard, and even made me jump out of my chair sometimes. But you know what's even better than hearing the smiles?
Killing them. Never has shooting something with a gun ever felt so natural, so addicting. At many times, it feels like ecstasy. The voices of the Smiths add to this as well. For a GameCube game, the voice acting is phenomenal. Hearing classic lines like:
"This is too easy..."
"Fuck You!"
"Son of a bitch..."
"Hurts, doesn't it?"
God, it sends chills down my spine every single time.
There are way too many confusing elements in this game, and I think that adds to its overall fear factor. The story has many gripping moments that will have you baffled but also enticed, the fact that you can barely see the heaven smiles until you scan the room for them adds a nice layer of dread while moving through the buildings, the many ghosts you find throughout the game with their jumbled up speech patterns are - interesting to say the least, the visceral cel-shaded visuals that have quite a simple look to it, these all just make the game so chilling and unsettling to playthrough, but they also just add to the game's uniqueness and hook you on to its freaky vibes even more.
I could go on about this game - the story (especially near the end) is a big clusterfuck containing politics, (and it's a big shame it was never fully finished) the bosses are really awesome, there's just too much to say about it. I'm kinda sad there's no other game like this, but I'm also glad there isn't, because this is one that will definitely stick with me for a very, very long time. wow.

0 Lists liked by narc