|System: PS3 (PSN)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: ZEN Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: ZEN Studios||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 2, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Mature||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Caleb Newby
I typically find games like Zen Studio's The Punisher: No Mercy tricky to review. On one hand, you have a brand new first-person shooter that has your mind consistently comparing it to the Call of Duty, Unreal, and Halo's of the world. On the other hand, it sells for under ten dollars and should be compared to similarly priced games. Unfortunately for gamers, The Punisher: No Mercy doesn't hold up well when compared to similar wallet-friendly games.
Presumably envisioned primarily as an online multiplayer experience, No Mercy offers a single-player campaign mode to familiarize yourself with the gameplay - albeit a shockingly short single-player experience. Each of the four (yes, four) levels are introduced by cutscenes visualized in comic panels and voiced over by some entertaining dialogue. Not to spoil the rest of the review, but the most entertaining aspect of the game were the cutscenes, even if you need to be familiar with The Punisher universe to follow the storyline or recognize the characters involved. The campaign itself lasts roughly an hour, which somehow manages to feel too long.
Single-player boils down to a giant deathmatch against endless enemy bots. This consists of running around the level while shooting as many enemies as possible with whichever weapons you currently have unlocked and gaining upgrades to your guns for stringing together kills. You'll notice immediately that the enemy A.I. is exceptionally bad, as though they are following predetermined paths toward or away from you. One level gave me a time limit in which to kill a slew of enemies along with the level boss. After failing once and realizing I would have to attempt this all over again (nooo!), I had the bright idea to hang out on what I imagine was a giant pipe in the warehouse and shoot my enemies from above. It was from up here that I easily killed everyone required without coming into danger myself. The enemy pathfinding apparently couldn't figure out how to threaten me while on the easily accessible pipe.
Controls are par for the course for any first-person shooter with your analogs controlling movement and viewing while the L and R buttons fire. It is a short learning curve, and in no time you'll feel as though you understand everything there is to offer. Perhaps this could be tied into a positive for the game, most people marginally familiar with any FPS since Golden Eye should be comfortable with the controls in no time.
The graphics don't do the game any favors either, lacking any distinct flavor or style to enhance a game that could use all the enhancement it could get. Characters and environments are bland and nothing overtly stands out. Particularly bad are character animations and movement which seems to be lacking a few extra character states. Enemy movement isn't choppy per se, but characters don't seem to have any weight and are more tacked into the environment rather than integrated within it.
Sound, at first listen, seems to be one of the bright spots. Early cutscenes quickly throw out several expletives serving as an early reminder that this is an M rated affair. Yet what at first seems like a strength is quickly revealed as a weakness. Characters seem to only have a small handful of phrases for any given situation and will repeat them over and over. "Time to punish The Punisher!" and "My time has come" loop with an alarming frequency. But it's not all bad - the guns sound like you'd expect when you pull the trigger.