Before very recently, my only knowledge of the Postal series was of the first game, which was known for being heavily violent and controversial. So admitedly I do not have extensive experience with the Postal franchise. Nevertheless, I approached this game expecting something similar to Grand Theft Auto. Unfortunately, Postal 3 is anything but as this entry into the Postal series is dated, uninspired and simply unpleasant to play.
Before I get into Postal 3’s gameply, I will briefly touch on the games visuals and sound. On the plus side, the visual presentation of Postal 3 is a highlight of the game. Using the venerable Source engine, the character models are decent to look at, and behave in a pretty lifelike manner. The animation is a little stiff, particularly with regard to dialogue, but it suits the style of the game. The game design strikes me as being similar to Duke Nukem – firmly rooted in the 90s. The level design is nothing to get excited about but it is easy to navigate. That said the levels do get old pretty quickly. By and large, the game looks modern, but the design is stuck in the dark ages of game design.
I should mention I ran into constant problems while making my way through the game. Generally, the game crashed 5-6 times per hour, and any change in scene (ex. cutscene to gameplay) resulted in stuttering graphics and visible on screen error messages.
The sound in Postal 3 is barely passable. The sound effects are the high point, but they are generic gunshot and splat fare. The music sits in the middle, being unobtrusive but not adding nothing to the experience. The voice acting itself is mediocre and cheesy, and the content of the dialogue is terrible. Offensive does not really begin to describe things. The one liners and subject matter simply goes too far and it makes the game unpleasant to play. It really feels as though the developers did not have a solid idea about the direction they wanted to take the game, and tried to cover that fact up with ‘edgy’ dialogue.
Postal 3 doesn’t really have much story to speak of. The majority of it is very superficial, and serves only to carry the offensive dialogue and content of the game. This gamble does not pay off, and there is very little motivation for the player to press onwards. In very simple terms, your character (Postal Dude) runs out of gas and takes on a variety of odd jobs to make some money. From there, it is rinse and repeat for 6-8 hours. Completion times may vary due to a very simple good vs. evil mechanic that can extend and alter the outcome of the story.
The missions in the game generally follow a very simple formula. Defend the adult actress from the hockey moms; defend the sex shop from the hockey moms; round up the AIDS infected cats; etc. It is very old fashioned in terms of game design. Similarly, the AI in the game is low grade. Enemies simply swarm and chase you in a linear fashion, without any discernable tactics.
Postal 3 uses basic third person control mechanics. The controls are responsive, but more modern mechanics like cover are notably absent. Generally, the controls do their job, but do not stand out. To keep things at least somewhat entertaining, Postal 3 has a few unique weapon choices. The ‘badgersaw’ is particularly unexpected, and makes the mundane missions slightly more amusing to undertake.
Despite some clever weapon design, the game never really gets rolling, making it difficult to recommend. Some players may enjoy the rawness of the content, but in my opinion there is not enough substance here to warrant much attention. Postal 3 just feels half baked. In other words, a great deal more time should have been spent in the planning stage. Potential exists within the franchise, but the developers have missed the mark this time. As a person who generally enjoys edgy humour, I found Postal 3 to be distasteful. The proverbial line is crossed constantly and instead of being funny, it comes off as disturbing. From top to bottom, Postal 3 is largely a game you should avoid.