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The Punisher

The Punisher could be the most violent game ever. None of that boy-next-door Spider-Man crap, but proper Kill Bill limb-mincing, heads-popping-like-corks, epic type. You want blood, you got it. To put it in its context, The Punisher is like the shady gent in the back alley with the long overcoat, the double-barrelled shotgun and the belt of shrunken skulls and cut-off pinkies round his waist.

Essentially, it plays a lot like Max Payne. It's an intense, bloody, third-person action adventure full of relentless blasting and up-close slicing. You get the usual weapons like Uzis, shotguns, samurai swords and meat cleavers. There's an atypical zoom view for precision shooting, and if you're particularly cunning, you can grab bad guys and use their sorry little butts as human shields.

So it's kinda seen it all before, right? Well, yes and no. The big twist comes through the game's interrogation scenes and special kills. Unlike Manhunt though, which was relentlessly brutal, the deaths in The Punisher are way more imaginative, more stylised. It essentially takes killing by the scruff of the neck and reworks it into an outrageous art form. In the zoo level, a standard third-person shoot-out culminates in a sole survivor being interrogated and then shoved into a whirring woodchipper machine. GRRRRIIINNNDD!!! Love it.

It gets better. A wander through the Aztec museum sees us impaling one mobster on a mounted crucifix (that'll be one of the game's many special kills, then), sacrificing another on an altar, and finally, grabbing a guard around the neck and plunging him headfirst into the piranha tank. Basically, this is like a montage of all the would-be death sequences from the Bond films if 007 wasn't such a lucky git.

"Our whole theme has been '101 ways to kill'," Volition's associate producer James Tsai tells us. "There's something for everybody, you're putting them in furnaces, hanging them over buildings, bashing their heads in car doors - if you've seen it in an action movie, then chances are you'll get to do it in The Punisher."

For pure pick-up-and-play ultra-violent, cartoon fun, The Punisher is a monster. It smacks you in the face like a one-ton cranium fist after a 10-foot run-up.

You can Punish your PS2, Xbox and PC from February

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