Postal 2: Apocalypse Weekend (PC)

By Phill Parker

Published on Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Graphics: 6.50
Sound: 7.00
Gameplay: 8.00
Replays: 5.00

If you hate Postal 2, then Apocalypse Weekend, the new expansion pack from developer and publisher Running with Scissors, isn’t going to change your opinion. It contains even more shameless profanity, over-the-top violence and colorful body fluids than the original game.

But how can you dislike this franchise? In an industry that takes itself far too seriously, and exhibits a pathological aversion to originality (too risky for the sales and marketing types), Apocalypse Weekend launches an unapologetic, take-no-prisoners assault on the same-old, same-old first-person shooter formula.

While everyone else attempts to create a cinematic experience that tells a deep and meaningful story, Apocalypse Weekend plays by its own slapstick, M-rated rules. For example, the ironically-named desert town of Paradise is undergoing an infestation of mad cow-infected Tourettes zombies. These grotesque enemies shuffle forward, hurling insults at you, along with scoopfuls of their own diseased guts. These are the funniest, most irreverent video game monsters I’ve ever encountered.

If you’ve had a bad day, and you’re feeling frustrated by the aggravations and banality of modern life, Apocalypse Weekend is a terrific way to vicariously take bloody revenge without hurting anyone. Remember, the citizens of Paradise are just a collection of meaningless pixels, so feel free to whiz on anyone who gets in your way. These natural born victims flee in terror or puke in disgust, providing the kind of guilty pleasure that’s unavailable in any other computer game. They also fight back, until you chop them into steak-sized chunks, or blow their heads off. Everyone’s inner psycho will applaud.

Of course, no game is perfect, and Apocalypse Weekend suffers from its share of flaws. For instance, I wish the environments were more interactive. Each level suffers from an empty quality, like a new house that isn’t quite finished. The maps include streets, signs, buildings, furniture and people, but little details are missing, which would otherwise make the Postal Dude’s world look and feel more alive. However, the focus of Apocalypse Weekend is on gameplay, rather than graphics, so this lack of detail isn’t a deal-breaker.

One complaint about the original game concerned long loading times when moving your character between zones. Postal 2 didn’t have separate maps, but the wide-open town still required transitions, since the geography of Paradise couldn’t fit into memory completely. Loading times aren’t a problem in the Apocalypse Weekend expansion because this time traditional self-contained levels are employed. Nevertheless I miss the more free-form nature of Postal 2. You could tackle objectives in any order, or simply wander off to explore your surroundings. The levels of Apocalypse Weekend give the game a linear structure that doesn’t provide the same rewarding sense of freedom.

Whatever. These grumbles aren’t nearly enough to derail the twisted fun. One great improvement is the addition of awesome melee weapons. A new sickle can split foes in two with a single swipe. In one mission, a sledge hammer is used to bean cows on the head. Their bloated bodies collapse like sacks of wet cement. The most enjoyable weapon has to be the boomerang machete, which quickly separates arms, legs and heads from opponents’ torsos.

Postal 2: Apocalypse Weekend’s brand of humor and action can rightfully be called vulgar, but this label isn’t a critical jab. Nobel prize winning playwright George Bernard Shaw put it best when he said, “Vulgarity is a necessary part of a complete author’s equipment; and the clown is sometimes the best part of the circus.” The low-brow, circus-like atmosphere of Apocalypse Weekend is undeniably puerile, and undeniably entertaining. Your game collection won’t be complete without it.

Overall Rating: 7.50

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