Postal (video game)
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|Developer(s)||Running With Scissors|
|Composer(s)||Christian A. Salyer|
Postal (stylized as POSTAL) is an isometric top-down shooter video game developed by Running With Scissors and published by Ripcord Games in 1997. A sequel to the game, Postal 2, was released in 2003. Director Uwe Boll bought the movie rights for the series, and produced a film of the same name. A March 2001 re-release of the game, called Postal Plus, included a "Special Delivery" add-on. A remaster of the game, Postal Redux, was released for Microsoft Windows on May 20, 2016, and is scheduled to release for PlayStation 4 at a later date.
Postal is a 3D shooter with mainly isometric, but also some top-down levels featuring hand-painted backgrounds. Gameplay and interface are similar to first-person shooters of the time in most, but not on all counts:
- Movement is always relative to the orientation of the player character ("The Postal Dude"). The player therefore must always be aware of the direction the character is facing, which can be difficult to some players on the isometric maps.
- There are eight weapon slots, each with a fixed amount of maximum ammo. The default weapon is a weak machine gun with unlimited ammo. Although it serves no practical purpose, the player can conceal their weapons by pressing the tilde key.
- Contrary to first-person shooters, however, the goal is not to stay alive and just reach the next level, but to kill a given percentage of the armed NPCs on the map. Only then the exit to the next level is activated. Even if the player is dead, they may still exit the level as long as the required number of hostiles have been killed.
The game follows a schizophrenic man who has been evicted from his home. He believes that the United States Air Force are releasing a poison gas on his town that only he is unaffected by. He fights his way to the Air Force Base through various areas. During the progress of the game, a voice in the protagonist's head (voiced by Rick Hunter) can be heard taunting his victims.
After massacring the Air Force Base, he is then shown trying to massacre an elementary school, however his weapons have no effect. He then has a mental breakdown and wakes up to find himself in a mental asylum. A doctor gives a report on the protagonist's mental state, suggesting that the stress of urban life may have caused him to "go postal", over images of a hellish corridor, the protagonist curled up in the fetal position in his cell, a close-up of his face (albeit covered by bindings) and the door to his cell, cell 593. The final remarks are "We may never know exactly what set him off, but rest assured we will have plenty of time to study him".
After the credits, manic cackling can be heard, suggesting that the protagonist may have somehow escaped the asylum.
The original Japanese versions of Postal featured two exclusive levels, "Tokyo" and "Osaka". These levels have not been released anywhere else, but circulate in the Postal community. A Linux port was done by Loki Entertainment in 2001.
Postal: Special Delivery, an expansion to the original Postal, was released on January 1, 1998 and featured four new levels and various new characters and voices. One level in particular was set in a parody of Wal-Mart and began with the Dude's demon chastising the store for not selling Postal, which foreshadows the off-kilter humour seen in Postal 2.
A March 2001 re-release of the game, called Postal Plus, included the "Special Delivery" add-on.
In 2002, Postal Plus (known as Postal: Classic and Uncut in Europe) bundled Postal and the Special Delivery expansion, with retail copies also including a demo for Postal 2.
Digital distribution re-release
Postal Plus was released on the digital distributor GOG.com in 2009 and a few years later on Steam. In 2013, it was updated with support for widescreen resolutions and modern hardware. The multiplayer component and level editor were removed, however. In 2015, it was updated with full Xbox 360 controller support.
Also in 2015 the Running with scissors developers annnounced that they will release the source code of the game "if someone promises to port it to the Dreamcast". In June 2016 the developers gave the source code to a community developer who ported the game to Linux for the OpenPandora handheld.
Postal received mixed reviews from critics. GameRankings and Metacritic scores are respectively 57.00% and 56/100. GameSpot's Mark East gave the game a 6.6/10 score and commented: "The lack of longevity in the single-player mode and the simplistic multiplayer options make Postal a moderately fun ride, at best."
In a retrospective, GamingOnLinux reviewer Hamish Paul Wilson gave the game 7/10, commenting that "there is no denying that Postal has some faults even when compared to some of the other games that were released around the same time as it, and time has definitely not been very kind to the title itself. But the concepts that the game explores, the ideas being expressed, and much of their actual implementations are just so interesting and compelling that one can still actually look past many of these faults and see the hidden gem that lies underneath."
- "We're going to release the POSTAL 1 source code soon, but only if someone promises to port it to the Dreamcast." on twitter.com/RWSbleeter (2015)
- POSTAL 1 running on Open Pandora. P1 is being opened sourced in the near future! on twitter.com/RWSbleeter (2016)
- Postal Source Code by ptitseb "Things are progressing... Stay tuned." (2016)
- "Postal for PC". GameRankings. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
- "Postal for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved June 21, 2014.
- "Postal Review". Game Revolution. June 5, 2004. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
- East, Mark (October 17, 1997). "Postal Review". GameSpot. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
- Bauman, Steve (1997). "Postal Review". Computer Games Magazine. Archived from the original on April 6, 2005. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
- Redwood, Stephen. "Postal - Review". Games Domain. Archived from the original on July 12, 2003. Retrieved January 5, 2014.
- Wilson, Hamish (October 28, 2012). "GamingOnLinux Reviews - Postal: Classic And Uncut". GamingOnLinux. Retrieved July 24, 2014.