The Punisher: No Mercy review

  • Weapon and ability upgrades
  • Hilariously excessive profanity
  • Um... there are guns?
  • Unresponsive, insipid shooting
  • Bland campaign and multiplayer
  • Wretched writing, worse voice acting

Spider-Man and Hulk work well as open-world adventurers and the X-Men make for stellar action RPG stars. Few Marvel Comics properties fit the first-person shooter bill like The Punisher, and Frank Castle’s wanton violence in the name of vigilante justice is a comfortable premise for a videogame. Unlike the last generation’s solid third-person Punisher game, however, The Punisher: No Mercy is a sloppy, online-focused FPS that’s disappointingly dull in almost every regard.

For starters, the campaign in The Punisher: No Mercy is mindlessly easy (more so if you complete it through online co-op). The 30 minute-long story mode is a hollow set of arena battles that are bookended by incomprehensible comic book cutscenes. The idea of a clone army of arch nemeses is a decent excuse to send Frank Castle into a multiplayer arena, but the narrative is poorly written nonsense that’s full of wooden voice acting. Even the hilarious amount of profanity couldn’t stop us from muting the repetition of looping lines like “I live to do what has to be done” - pulled right from the comic, but made meaningless here - and “What, you think you’re f---ing Captain America?”

Where the single player succeeds is in its rewards: completing campaign levels unlocks new guns, new abilities and character enhancements, which carry over to the online multiplayer. Character skills like speed boosts play a more active role than a meaner-looking rifle, though. Even boosting your power through item pickups doesn’t add weight to the combat. The shooting feels imprecise regardless of which gun you’re firing, and without character reactions or on-screen indicators, it's tough to tell if you’re even hitting your target. The absence of visceral impact ruins an already unimpressive online multiplayer game. The derivative game modes don’t offer any original ideas, and the bland, cookie-cutter arenas are tiny, especially if the room is full at eight players.

The Punisher: No Mercy is an aggressively mediocre FPS. Any decent ideas suffer from bad design decisions, and so the shallow multiplayer is a hollow experience that even the most hardcore Frank Castle follower will want to skip. Yes, at press time it's only $10, but it could be free and we'd still think it sucked.

Jul 9, 2009

More Info

Release date: Jul 02 2009 - PS3 (US)
Jul 02 2009 - PS3 (UK)
Available Platforms: PS3
Genre: Shooter
Published by: Zen Studios
Developed by: Zen Studios
ESRB Rating:
Mature: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language


  • ludovix - July 9, 2009 11:03 p.m.

    First, and not proud of... I mean, the game...
  • joabbuac - July 12, 2009 6:44 p.m.

    Arkham please come and save ussss
  • mrevolution09 - July 12, 2009 7 a.m.

    those screens make it look almost like bioshock.
  • zayleffein - July 10, 2009 11:46 p.m.

    I have a unfair prejudice against the Punisher and other 3rd rate comic characters-gone-video-game. But I am happy to see my prejudice wasn't unfounded. It makes me think of cheesy one-liners with a cigar in my mouth and camera down the barrel of the gun.. You see it 45 times and it gets old. Yes, I hate Ghost Rider and the Punisher. They are lame for trying so hard to be badass. I mean.. Nicholas Cage... wtf?
  • helix92 - July 10, 2009 9:35 a.m.

    Its pretty bad but it only cost £6. I'm not gonna be crying myself too sleep bout it, and i have played much worse games for a much larger price tag. i think that 4 is fairly harsh... though the voice acting is hilariously awful
  • AnonymouZ - July 10, 2009 7:59 a.m.

    i thought it looked badass. then i saw it being sold at 10 bucks... and i was like wtf? THEN i read the reviews... and i laughed. hard.
  • Tasty_Pasta - July 10, 2009 6:30 a.m.

    I bought this without reading any reviews. And I'm oh so sad that I didn't read any reviews beforehand.

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