Postal 2 was released with much fanfare back in April 2003, though with many of the trumpets sounding suspiciously like screaming news anchors. It was nearing the height of the biggest moral crusade against video games at the time and debates about the title were everywhere. What made it so different from other games on the market was just how little it cared about making a good impression. It said "yeah, you can piss on a cop and then decapitate a terrorist" and left it at that. It was over the top mayhem that just wasn't common back then and is still rare to this day. It did well for itself in the market, and in 2004, RunningWithScissors released the Apocalypse Weekend expansion. Now, over a decade later, there's a new DLC called Paradise Lost. We're gonna find out how well it holds up.
The plot of Postal 2: Paradise Lost continues roughly where we left off at the end of Apocalypse Weekend with your town covered in the effects of a nuclear blast. Some areas are a desert, some are rainy, and some have a nuclear winter. The primary goal is to search for your lost dog Champ, who has gained a fearsome reputation as El Perro Loco among townspeople. To get him back you have to go through all kinds of wacky scenarios such as breaking into an animal research center, working for a church centered around your former boss, milking undead cows, and a bunch of other crap that just so happens to follow a day schedule.
The game works exactly like the original Postal 2: Every day you are given some tasks to complete by whichever monster commands you to do so. Like the original you have the option to force your way through everything by killing people and getting it done quickly or you can take the slow way and be an upstanding citizen. On the first day you have to wait in line for food of unspecified meat from a dubious restaurant, and it takes forever, but you have the option to kill a bunch of people and steal the food. It's the same as the milk errand in the original campaign and it has the same effect. Postal 2 makes you want to go postal by presenting it as the quicker, more satisfying solution. To amplify this as the game goes on you begin to receive direction from a second voice in your head that's a bit more up front about his violent tendencies. Shenanigans ensue.
Its similarity to the original Postal 2 carries over in its options menus, of course. The video settings menu has options for resolution, window mode, and all the usual stuff. The performance menu is where most graphical tweaking comes in, and includes options such as fluid lifetime and effects density — things not seen often in games these days. Everything can be cranked up to max settings on any modern PC, though even with an i5 3470/GTX 970 PC some big frame drops were noticed on the undead cow milking level. Visually it looks like a game from 2003 because it is a game from 2003, but don't like that dissuade you. Its art style is pretty realistic, at least for its time, without much in the way of individual style. You might think that after 11 years or so that there would be significant updates to the graphics but you would be wrong. It looks as good as you would expect it to look.
The audio, similarly, is what you would expect. It's hard to think of any background music the game has outside of the main menu, though certain areas have their own music. It always fits with the environment logically and is generally done in such a way that most players wouldn't notice. The voice acting is as good as the original game, with a lot of lines being reused. It fits, its as good as you would expect from Postal 2, and that's all that can be said about it.
As far as the writing goes it's off the walls insanity from start to finish. Trying to phrase it in any meaningful manner is futile, but let's give it a shot: Slayer mixed with Falling Down and maybe just a pinch or five thousand of cocaine. Postal 2: Paradise Lost is like a roller coaster of weirdness full of things you thought you would never see in a game. It's the kind of weird that is normally reserved for late night drunken D&D, or the kind of bullshitting that occurs between bored friends. It's the kind of weird that makes you happy to be around to see it. The weirdness in the usual Postal writing translates well to weirdness in gameplay. You can silence your shotgun by shoving the barrel up a cat's ass, so there's that. Whatever expectations you might've had go out the window when cat silencers come into play.
The gunplay is so bad and dated, though, that it's easiest to just run through with the lever action shotgun. Most enemies of note take a few hits that and can go on for ages with machine guns or pistols. Despite health or skill, if you piss off enough people you won't be able to live long enough to shoot enough times to kill them all, especially considering that most hostiles take two headshots with the shotgun to kill. Zombies take only one but the hit detection is so unreliable that it's easier to just run away than to stand and fight.
The open world nature of Postal 2 is great, but in Paradise Lost it feels difficult to move around the world. There's too many obstacles from point A to B and the player is too slow to make real progress in any decent amount of time.The map is useful until it isn't such as when trying to locate a specific area in the Mall or a building in an area. Perhaps being able to keep the map up as a held item would've helped rather than needing to activate it and pause the game every time.
Postal 2: Paradise Lost is more of the same with the series, which is good and bad. It's fun because Postal 2 was fun, but feels dated because Postal 2 is dated. If what you're looking for is another week's campaign from Postal 2 then you've come to the right place. It's got exactly what the average person could expect from it and then some. If you're looking for an improvement on the original you likely won't find it here. While it adds some significant new gameplay elements, such as dual wielding and boss fights, it doesn't change enough of the formula to be considered a major improvement. This could be a positive or a negative depending on how you feel about the original game. In my own opinion it feels stale going from errand to errand the same way I did in 2003. The setting has changed but somehow it all feels the same.
The score I give to Paradise Lost is probably not what I would have given Postal 2 had I reviewed it back in 2003: a 7.5 out of 10. While it's an enjoyable experience and delivers more of the same great stuff its problems are definitely present and glaring. The shooting is exactly like the games that came out in the late 90s, some enemies feel artificially overpowered, and repetitive and stale gameplay leads to boredom. All that said, it is still a strong expansion on a strong game, able to hold up today as a one of a kind title. It's very good, not necessarily great, and is a good mindless time killer.
It's something I would recommend to almost anyone for a single play through, but I can't ever see myself completing it more than a few times. I foresee a future for Postal 2: Paradise Lost that is much like the original: a game to mess around in and enjoy without thinking too much about. I'll hop on later and kill some people with scissors or try and find new secrets and I won't think about it too much. It will be fun for the sake of being fun, and that's basically Postal 2 in a nutshell.
This game was obtained for free from Running With Scissors and was reviewed on PC.