To a superhero fan, there is nothing more disappointing than the Super Hero Video Game tie-in. For some reason, they always end up bad. There are a few diamonds in the rough, however. In recent years the best super hero tie in is probably Nether Realm Studio’s Injustice: Gods Among Us and its sequel, Injustice.
There is a game from 2004 that deserves high praise for being possibly the best super hero tie in game of all time. Based loosely on the 2004 Punisher movie starring Tom Jane, The Punisher video game was released in 2005 for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox. Developed by Volition and published by THQ, this game is the greatest realization of a Marvel video game to date. Firstly, let me tell you, this game is BLOODY with a capital B. The creators of the game actually had to go back and throw a black-and-white filter over some of the gameplay in order to have it be successful in European markets and avoid an adult rating.
The Guns to get the Job Done
This game features gunplay that would make Max Payne blush. You can dual-wield almost every weapon. You’ve got pistols, rifles, shotguns, heavy machine guns, grenade launchers, and rocket launchers. As you get kills or take damage a meter fills, and once it is filled you can enter a ‘Punishment’ mode where Frank goes from a soldier on the streets to a god of Death. The screen goes black and white and Frank switches from guns to throwing knives, which are one-hit kills on anyone they touch.
Spilling Your Guts
One of the biggest highlights of the game is an in-depth system for interrogation. Using special pieces of the environment (depending on the level) Frank Castle can grab thugs and squeeze them for information on different paths or locations of guns and ammo. Each level has different special environmental interrogations. The Zoo level for instance, where you can dangle a thug in a rhino pit, or where you can threaten to shove their head in a vat of electric eels. In an awesome character developing moment, whenever you successfully retrieve information from criminals, they’ll usually yell something like “I was just following orders!” or other pithy lines, which trigger flashbacks for Frank, and these flashbacks show up in the form of pages from classic Punisher comics.
Don’t Push Too Hard
When interrogating bad guys, you enter a mini-game where you need to keep the person frightened enough where they will talk, but not kill them outright. Which, given some of the methods of interrogation, are kind of difficult. It is quite easy to accidentally slip and then suddenly the thug you were threatening to throw into a wood chipper turns into chipped beef.
Part of the Marvel World
And unlike a lot of Punisher media, which tries to keep Frank separate from the fantastical world of super heroes that he lives in, this game dives straight in, at least on a level that makes sense for Frank’s line of work. You’ll meet Black Widow, Daredevil, Bullseye, even Iron Man! In addition to these characters, you’ll be interacting with a bunch of classic Punisher villains, like Jigsaw, Bushwhacker, and General Kreigkopf.
For anyone lamenting the lack of a truly brutal Punisher video game, this one is for you. Not only are the controls decent, the story is pretty great too, pulling from all different Punisher materials in order to provide the ultimate Punisher experience.