Even if you’ve never touched a single licensed game, you should at least know Postal by name. A “satirical” series where, most of the time, we kill everything and anything/who by taking advantage of the worst in terms of gratuitous gore, dripping humor and other “wtf” delusions. The truth is that the saga pierced because of the many controversies surrounding the release of Postal 2 which, subsequently, even ended up being voted “Worst game of the year”. A boon for developers who still use it today to justify the arrival of a 4th opus. Except that there, it’s good, we understood, and the joke has lasted long enough.
I hope the corny don’t kill
Before getting to the heart of the matter, I’m going to set the scene, sinceit is imperative to know in what context Postal 4 was designed to fully understand how and why we got here. To do this, we quickly go back to the early 2000s.
Like the studio has obviously decided to oust the very bad Postal 3 from its timelinefor lack of polemics no doubt (damn it, that’s what makes good games, it’s well known…), I will do the same and dwell on the no less very bad Postal 2. We are therefore in 2003, America is waging war on Iraq, terrorism is on everyone’s lips and at the same time, in another register, video games have a very bad reputation. Our favorite media is indeed the easy target when it comes to finding a scapegoat, GTA in the lead, for the deviations of a handful of crackpots, and we even begin to point the finger at it for everything and anything.
It is in this tense context that Postal 2 arrives with a single objective: to vomit on everything that is happening, without an ounce of finesse. And the bet is successful. The developers have the good idea to make terrorism look ridiculous by sending us a mindless bin Laden and his Taliban cronies to get carried away by our balls. Since this is not enough, the game also decides to multiply the disgusting scenes and the very greasy slices of humor. Not to mention the many racist clichés thrown around just like that, sprinkled with totally gratuitous violence, considered extreme at the time, downright central to the experience. All this earned Postal 2 a slew of controversy and was banned in many countries, including France at the time.
Wee, poo, lots of swear words, violence trivialized as possible and without any interest
Thanks to this, the software has made a solid reputation and even managed to make players forget that before being the subject of all the controversy, it was above all a very bad game. Because yes, even with a lot of hindsight, Postal 2 was a disaster in every way, both technically and in terms of gameplay. It will also receive the title of “Worst game of all time”.
If it was important to come back to this part of the history of the license, it’s because Postal 2 and its reputation are the only raison d’être of Postal 4 and the only way for the game to be talked about. Moreover, the Running With Scissors studio proudly displays it everywhere, from the trailers to the game’s Steam page where we can read: “Satirical and scandalously comical FPS” and “official sequel to the game that was voted “Worst Game Ever”, POSTAL 2!”. So we could expect an assumed nanar? But if only…
A shower of weakness and we understand absolutely nothing
A mess without head or tail
Postal 4 is therefore the direct sequel to the second episode and offers exactly the same thing: pee, poop, lots of swear words, violence trivialized as possible and without any interest, and a host of racist, fatphobic clichés and everything you want, they too, completely free. But since it’s “shockingly comical and satirical,” I guess we’re supposed to laugh about it?
Except it’s 2022, guys., and allowing us to piss on civilians and flip the fingers, or shout “Ay, caramba!” to all latinos, it only makes fun of the alcoholic uncle who throws salacious jokes during family celebrations.
Devoid of context and any writing to bring consistency to his “satire” and his humor supposed to be caustic, Postal 4 becomes an astronomical beauf. The game even gets its feet in the carpet from the start by discrediting its character and its stakes from the very first minutes. Result, we swim in the middle of a trip, we take a shower of weakness and we understand absolutely nothing.
Postal 4 is a real technical shipwreck
Initially, our Dude is looking for a new base to recover his health after leaving Paradise City, the city of Postal 2, which ended up being atomized. And, it’s without clothes or money that we tumble into a squat of tramps. After insulting and urinating on a pair of NPCs, we create a nice sign asking for money and a job, then we land in town to beg. Except that here, barely arrived, we already come face to face with a challenge (which has nothing to do with the “scenario”) asking us to kill 2-3 civilians with shovels, for no reason, just for fun and a wad of cash. Is this the famous American dream?
The game doesn’t even take the time to set up its frame (or doesn’t want to), that it already sticks a whole bunch of bullshit under our noses. It’s vulgar, but I put myself on his level, there is no other word.
Civilians, cloned from 8 or 10 totally failed models, roam like donkeys in a deserted city, soulless and without an ounce of atmosphere. Quickly, the insults go in all directions when you meet them. And again, that’s at best, if not the only topics of conversation they seem to have (with themselves, since they’re all talking in the air) are about their bizarre sexual encounters or stories of excrement (sometimes both at the same time). It never flies higher than the belt, or else it’s to talk about female breasts. XD Ptdr.
In addition, the inhabitants of this village are all idiots, the fault of an AI from hell that captures absolutely nothing of what is happening. It’s not complicated, they don’t react to almost anything, even if you run over one of them in the middle of the street or start shooting into the crowd. Half the time, they all continue the patrol dictated to them by the AI. Occasionally, we even have the right to scripts that go into a spin and make them scream when they don’t even move, or make them run endlessly against a wall. The police, on the other hand, are only good for making up the numbers or, when they hunt us down, don’t let go of us at all, not even after a death, and chase us across the whole map, conjuring up clone agents absolutely everywhere.
What does the game have to offer? Where’s the fun in playing? What is the purpose of Postal 4?
It is in this setting, oh so charming and captivating, that thewe’re going to have to hit a week (in-game) of uninteresting objectives by swallowing miles of gritty dialogues and situations as politically incorrect as they are completely silly.
On the first day, for example, you will be asked to look for work. After a meeting with a pervert acting as head of the local ANPE, we find ourselves doing 3 small jobs: prison guard, employee of a bizarre SPA and sewer worker. Which, in Postal 4, actually translates to killing prisoners with a vengeance in an empty prison, luring dogs that get stuck in the scenery to a van, and changing faulty light bulbs in the sewers by killing worshipers of satans, hippies and giant rats. Hilarious.
And in Postal 4, the more the days pass, the more what we are asked has neither head nor tail. One will have access to a whole bunch of senseless weapons and gadgets, like a grappling hook, which are of no use at all. We will also discover, little by little, all regions of the map, each emptier than the other, and even a part of Mexico where all the locals wear sombreros, eat tacos and force the accent. Really funny. Short. The developers certainly try to make people laugh by doing anything and hitting where it hurts (just look at the missions on the US-Mexico border), but it’s a monumental flop, even if it’s a good audience.
35 bullets for that?
As if its contents were not enough, Postal 4 is a real technical shipwreck. There is nothing to save. It’s really ugly, and it even recycles environments straight out of Postal 2 (a game almost 20 years old) with a bit more clarity. Not content with being already stupid, the NPCs also move like robots, the facial animations are absent, the cutscenes are catastrophic and the bugs are legion. During my test of almost 10 long hours, I had to restart the game nearly thirty times at the very least, sometimes even several times in a row. In particular because of script bugs, smoky collisions planting me in the background or off the map, or “simple” crashes. We will add on top of this awful textures, a modeling of the environment, the characters, and all that surrounds them, completely missed, and a total absence of artistic direction.
Even after writing these lines, I still don’t understand where the developers wanted to go. What does the game have to offer? Where’s the fun in playing? What is the purpose of Postal 4? Aside from surfing on the nostalgia of the 2000s, and the polemics of Postal 2, what is it for? The answer is simple: nothing.
There’s absolutely nothing ‘shockingly comical’ about Postal 4games like Trover Save The Universe do much, much better in terms of crappy humor and benefit from real, really funny writing. Is Postal 4 “satirical”? Nope, we are also very far from what a GTA can offer in terms of criticism of society. Here, the software uses it as a selling point but totally fails, only serving usa gory and violent pee-poop sandbox with no bottom. Finally, Postal 4 only mocks playersof itself and of the license from which it comes.