Back in 1998, I went to a wholesale warehouse with my dad in search of new supplies for his shop. As he wandered the grow-up aisles, I found myself among a whole host of big-box PC games, two of which instantly caught my eye – Carmageddon 2 and POSTAL. Despite only being 14-years-old, my father bought both these for me; one was a game about running people over and destroying other cars, and the other was all about mindless violence and killing innocent people for no reason – I had a very happy childhood.
In 2014, Running With Scissors announced they were remaking POSTAL in Unreal Engine 4, expecting it to launch on PC, Mac, Linux and the PS4! However, the PS4 version was cancelled in 2017 due to “lack of sales for the PC version”. My hopes of ever seeing the game on the console were gone, until late last year when MD Games ported the Redux edition of the game to the Nintendo Switch – could this mean we’ll eventually see it on the PlayStation? The answer is yes – POSTAL Redux finally got its PS4 debut earlier this month on the American store, with a European store release planned for later this year.
As you may expect, I’ve played the game through to completion on both the Switch and the PS4 over the last few weeks, reliving my childhood and having a rather sadistic form of enjoyment in this brutal murder-simulation. This review will be focusing on the PS4 edition (via BC on my PS5), but the Switch edition is pretty much identical, bar the resolution.
Going postal is an American English slang phrase referring to becoming extremely and uncontrollably angry, often to the point of violence, and usually in a workplace environment. The expression derives from a series of incidents from 1986 onward in which United States Postal Service (USPS) workers shot and killed managers, fellow workers, and members of the police or general public in acts of mass murder.
POSTAL Redux is a simple game at heart, you play as ‘The Postal Dude’ who has been evicted from his home. The story itself is very vague and ambiguous; you’re simply a man who has gone quite insane, thinking that the people of the town have gone mental, taking out your rage and hatred on anything that moves. Due to your fatal actions, the army and local police won’t hesitate to shoot you on sight, further adding to your built-up frustrations with the world as you unleash hell upon them via the help of the weapons you obtain throughout the game.
Due to the protagonist’s clearly mental condition, he feels no remorse or emotion should he decide to slaughter the innocent people and animals within the town, killing both the armed defenders and unarmed bystanders alike. Some of the stages you make your way through are quite disturbing and questionable, especially considering real-life events have happened which mimic these quite closely, but I honestly don’t know if the game is depicting real events for The Postal Dude, or if it’s all in his head. Either way, if you’re sensitive to mass shootings and killing innocent people in public places, you may want to give this a miss.
In terms of content, POSTAL Redux combines the game and the expansion pack, allowing you to either play the original 17 stages, the 6 expansion stages, or all 23 stages in chronological order. There have also been some new weapons and visual filters added which, as a fan of the original game, I really enjoyed playing with. I’m quite surprised that Sony allowed the game, considering their recent stance on certain games, but I’m so happy that more people will now be able to play the original controversial game – hopefully we’ll get Postal 2 at some point a well.
POSTAL Redux is a top-down isometric twin-stick shooter with a locked perspective and viewing angle. You move with the Left stick, aim with the Right, fire with R2, throw with L2, and swap weapons with L1 and R1 – your standard controller setup. The game feels very responsive and easy enough to control, owing greatly to the fact controller support was added to the PC version previously, allowing you to easily line up your shots and hit your target with ease.
Each level has a single goal, kill over a certain percentage of ‘hostiles’ and then escape the map via the indicated exit. Each stage is crammed with ‘targets’, some are hostile and will attack you on sight, some are innocent bystanders who will run and scream if you open fire near them, and there are a few levels with ostriches in them… Technically, you could avoid the animals and pedestrians, and only target the hostile enemies, aiming to reach the desired number of deaths so the exit appears, but there’s no penalty for literally killing everyone, spilling their blood for no reason other than for the fun of it.
You come equipped with an unlimited-ammo Machine Gun, but you’ll find weapons as you kill enemies and simply laying around on the floor. These include the Shotgun, Spray Cannon, Missile Launcher, Napalm Launcher, Flame Thrower, and a Revolver, there are even a few secret weapons such as the Balloon Gun which makes the noise of a squeaking balloon as you fire it. These weapons, along with the throwables such as dynamite and grenades, allow you mindlessly butcher anyone you come into contact with, spraying their blood all over the floor as you pile up the bodies one by one.
Big head or little head?
As mentioned above, you can play the 17 levels, the extra 6, or all 23 in a single campaign. But, that’s not the only mode. You can also play Rampage, a mode in which you can play any of the levels in the game with the objective being to kill as many people as you can and rack up your score. On consoles, this mode is single-player only and the leaderboards appear to also be locally-based, rather than being online like the PC version, but you could still play against your friends or family and see who is the best murderer.
Speaking of single-player, POSTAL Redux on PC introduced an online co-op mode, allowing up to four players to play together, as well as an online death-match mode. Both of these are not included in either of the console versions, making them both single-player only. I’m not bothered by this, as I don’t think I’d ever play it online, but it is a shame that a mode that a lot of people seemingly love has been taken out.
There are a few changes from the original game in this new Redux edition (I say new, it’s about five years old now). The most notable has to be the removal of the elementary school level, which has been replaced, the soundtrack has been remade from scratch, and the final cutscene is now voiced by Corey Cruise – The Postal Dude from the third game (which everyone pretends never existed).
When Postal came out, you can imagine how the press and certain people took it. It’s a game that has a very vague story other than you’ve gone ‘postal’ as you kill random people for no reason. 24 years later, does it still have the same impact it once had on youthful me? Personally, I think you get games with more gore these days, but the subjects some of these scenes depict could be deemed as being quite controversial. For example, one level has you enter a supermarket, mowing down shoppers with your weaponry, leaving a mess on aisle 5 which nobody will want to clean!
Considering there have been real-life mass shoot-outs in America that have taken place in supermarkets – if this wasn’t a port of a remastered game from the 90s, I don’t think it would have been allowed.
If you’ve not played Postal before, you may be more accustomed to Hatred, a very similar game that came out on PC in 2015. That game was supposedly a spiritual successor to the original Postal game, due to its emphasis on the mindless slaughter of innocent people simply because the protagonist hated everything around him, but it wasn’t actually linked to this series outside of the inspiration. The developers behind POSTAL Redux, instead of taking issues with this imitation of their game, decided to embrace the new-found exposure and actually collaborated with the developers to bring some of the Hatred assets and design into POSTAL Redux!
Check out the visual styles below:
You often see visual filters in emulated retro games, such as the Sega Mega Drive Classics collection, but you don’t see it too often in remasters of old PC games. POSTAL Redux has a generous amount of visual filters to play with, some offering a new style based upon another franchise. For example, you can play the game as if it’s on a grey-scale GameBoy or the green-scale version, have heavy black outlines like Borderlands, make everything look cyberpunk, or even make it black and white like the opening to The Wizard of Oz.
However, the best filter has to be the ‘Like that other game’ filter – making the game black and white other than anything which is red. This is clearly inspired by Hatred, as that was the visual design for that game, making this game look like the game which was inspired by this game.
I just have to mention this, as it’s not something you see in every game – in fact, I don’t recall seeing it in any game. You can manually set the dead zone of your controller, in both the PS4 and the Switch versions. Why is this a big issue? Well, due to the number of people who have been affected by stick drift on both platforms, this allows you to adjust it so the dead zone covers the drift area, so you don’t have to worry about the controller doing its own thing within this game.
Personally, Sony and Nintendo need to add this to their consoles, at a system level, as it will allow people to use their controllers longer without replacing or repairing them. Apparently, Microsoft lets you do this in the latest version of their firmware on Xbox.
This morning, as I was writing this review, I discovered a magical thing – the POSTAL Redux cheats from PC work on the Switch and PS4 versions! If you activate any of them, other than the character select, then trophies and rampage scores are disabled. Enabling them is easy, press Cross, Circle and Triangle (X, A and B on Switch) at the same time whilst in a level and a text box will appear. Type in one of the below cheats and then press R2 (or Plus) and then Cross (or B). You’ll get a message to confirm it worked, along with a warning about the trophies.
ALAMODE – God mode
ASSAULTANDBATTERY – Gives the player the Assault rifle (toggles with Submachine Gun)
BEGFORTHIS – Wimpy enemies mode (Enemies fall after a couple hits)
BLOCKMYASS – Gives the player max armor
BLOWME – Gives the player the Balloon Gun (toggles with Submachine Gun)
CARRYMORE – Gives the player the Backpack
CLOWNINGARROUND – Turns all NPCs into Clowns
CROTCHBOMB – Gives the player 5 Mines
DYNOMYTE – Gives the player infinite Dynamite
FLAMENSTEIN – Gives the player the Flamer with 100 ammo
GIMMEHEAD – Makes all heads (player and npc) bigger
GROOVY – Activates slow motion
HEALTHFUL – Gives the player max (200) health
IAMSOLAME – Gives the player all weapons with infinite ammo, the backpack, max health, max armor, super speed, and opens the level exit.
JESSEJAMES – Gives the player the revolver with 24 rounds
LOBITFAR – Gives the player 5 Grenades
LONGARMOFTHELAW – Turns all NPCs into hostile police officers
MAGICMAGS – Gives the player infinite ammo for all owned weapons
MICHAELBAY – Turns all NPCs into rocketeers or grenadiers and makes all barrels explode in the current map.
MYTEAMOUSE – Shrinks all characters
NOHUDPLEASE – Toggles the hud
NOPLACELIKEOZ – Opens the level exit
PEASHOOTER – Gives the player the Pistol
RAISEDINABARN – Turns all NPCs into dancing ostriches, even dead ones
RIOTER – Gives the player 5 Molotovs
SHELLFEST – Gives the player the Shotgun with 100 shells
STERNOMAT – Gives the player the Napalm Launcher with 10 canisters
SUDDENLYISEE – Zooms out the camera
TITANIII – Gives the player the Missile Launcher with 12 missiles and 12 heatseekers
THEBESTGUN – Gives the player the Scattergun with 100 shells
THEQUICK – Increases firing speed of submachine gun, shotgun, spreader, and revolver.
TUNNELVISION – Zooms in the camera
WITCHDOCTOR – Shrinks the heads of all characters
YOURETOOSLOW – Toggles sonic speed
YOURHEADASPLODE – Makes all heads explode on death
My favourite cheats have to be the big head mode, zooming out the map, and making everyone’s head explode on death. Zooming out lets you see the entire map on the screen, rather than it scrolling as you move – this really should have been an option in the main menu and not a trophy-stopping cheat. The alternative, zooming in, allowed me to get up close for some pictures but it’s impossible to play as you can’t see anyone approaching you. I suppose the funniest ones include the big head mode and turning everyone into ostriches or clowns.
If you want to change your character, activate the text window and type in “MYNAMEISNOTIMPORTANT” – then, quit the game and goto Options > Game and press Cross (B) on your coat colour. You’ll now be able to pick between The Postal Guy (with a number of different coloured coats), a clown, or The Antagonist (the character you control in Hatred). Remember how I said POSTAL Redux borrowed a few things from Hatred, well they took the visual style AND the character model of the main character! With both activated, you can pretend you’re playing the prequel to Hatred.
Also, it appears that the voice actor changes when you pick The Antagonist – I’m not sure if it’s the same person who voiced him in Hatred, but it’s clearly different to The Postal Dude.
Both the PS4 and the Switch editions of the game loads fast, presenting no framerate or technical issues within the many hours I’ve spent playing them. However, despite the game being a Redux of the original game, within a brand new engine (for 2016) and updated assets, the game still looks dated due to its hand-drawn backgrounds. Don’t get me wrong, I love the way it looks as I have a lot of nostalgia for the game, but don’t go into it expecting a modern look with super sharp visuals – I believe this is running at 1080p and possibly 60fps.
The sound effects can be quite disturbing as it’s mainly innocent people screaming and begging for their lives as you casually shoot your weapon in their direction. The one-liners The Postal Dude comes out with are quite funny, yet also an indication of how he’s seeing the world through his clearly disturbed mind.
On a side note, everyone’s favourite director, Uwe Boll, produced a movie based on Postal back in 2003. I honestly really like this film although it does have a few questionable things within it – mainly shoving a gun up a cats arse and using it as a silencer (as you do in Postal 2). It also has full frontal nudity of a guy, showing his ding-dong, as well as Nazis and a testicle-based stuffed-toy. If you’re looking for something different to watch, check it out.
Official Trailer (Switch, but it’s the same game):
POSTAL Redux was exactly how I remember it, a mindless murder simulation game that rewards you for killing everything that moves. Although it may seem controversial and offensive to some people, the concept revolves around a guy who feels the world is against him, and that there’s someone waiting to kill him around every corner – it’s all about losing control and simply going postal and expressing his anger. This enhanced edition contains a few fun extras, such as different visual filters, the ability to play as The Antagonist from Hatred, and the option to play all 23 stages in one single campaign. It’s the perfect game to settle down with if you’ve had a bad day in the office…
If you’ve played the original 1997 game then you’ll love the console edition, if not (but you like twin-stick shooters and/or games that don’t give a f***), check it out!
The EU PSN Store now shows a listing for POSTAL Redux, sat between games coming out on the 8th and 15th of April. As such, the EU version may be released very soon.
- - Very nostalgic for those who played it 20+ years ago on PC
- - Combines the base game and the expansion, delivering 23 stages
- - The original cheats still work!
- - Very challenging if going for all the trophies
- - Simple, mindless, and addictive gameplay
- - Some people will find the game controversial
- - The game will only take around 4-5 hours to complete
- - The quality, for a Redux edition, is quite low
- - No co-op or Multiplayer (which was in the PC verison)