A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that the extreme violence makes this game a poor choice for kids and younger teens, and warrants a discussion for older players. The star rating given this game is based on quality of gameplay within this genre and is not an endorsement of the violence in the game.
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What's it about?
THE PUNISHER shares a storyline with the comic book series and films based on the main character: Former government agent Frank Castle becomes a vigilante after his family is murdered by the mob. Muscle-bound Frank uses an assortment of weapons to exact revenge on all kinds of criminals from Japanese Yakuza to Russian mercenaries. The point of the game is simple: Kill as many of the bad guys as possible.
The Punisher's vast armory includes pistols, shotguns, machine guns, sniper rifle, and grenades, as well as the odd crowbar, baseball bat, hatchet, and the ever-ready knives he uses to stab and twist in opponents' faces or cut their throats. Players are guided through a number of scenarios where they carry out missions to blow up boats and rescue hostages, for example, all the while gathering information that leads Frank closer to a showdown with Jigsaw, the crook responsible for his family's deaths.
Is it any good?
Deaths number roughly 70 to 100 people per mission by way of shooting, explosions, knife work, strangulation, and any number of creative deaths. There is also "slaughter mode," which allows the character to enter a psychotic haze of violence to get out of tricky situations. Victims gurgle, scream, whimper, and whine, especially when being interrogated. Interrogation is particularly disturbing because the player has an active hand in how much torture to inflict.
Violence aside, The Punisher has an intriguing storyline that overshadows the rather average graphics. There is a great deal of dialogue between the characters as well as the Punisher's inner monologue, which includes flashbacks to Vietnam, the death of his family, his attempt to lead a normal life, and so on. Even in easy mode, the game requires serious problem-solving skills to advance, but the challenges aren't unreasonable and the patterns are consistent. Overall the game is intriguing, but the violence overwhelms all.
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