GDC '08: Postal III First Impressions

The over-the-top shooter series is stronger than ever, judging from what we saw at GDC.

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SAN FRANCISCO--It's hard to believe that the oft-controversial Postal series is more than 10 years old now. In fact, it's arguably stronger than ever. 2008 will be the year of the movie Postal (by oft-maligned German director Uwe Boll) and two Postal mobile games. In 2009, there will come Postal III, which will be released on the PC and Xbox 360. We met up with Vince Desi, creator of Postal and CEO of developer Running With Scissors, for our first look at the latest over-the-top shooter.

Upon first glance, Postal III looks better than any of its predecessors probably because it's based on Valve's Source engine, which powered Half-Life 2: The Orange Box. The action remains as over-the-top as ever, though. Your character, The Postal Dude, gets to explore a whole new town (he blew up the town in Postal 2 with a nuclear bomb). Desi says that there is going to be another open-world experience in Postal III, similar to the open worlds of the Grand Theft Auto games. However, the designers are also putting in linear missions that serve as a tutorial before dropping you into the open world.

We can't really get into the details of the quest that we were shown, other than to say that The Postal Dude, in need of money, decides to become an "environmental maintenance specialist" at a porn store/movie studio. This involves using a backpack vacuum cleaner to clean the place. However, the vacuum also serves as Postal's version of the gravity gun; it's able to suck up and blow objects around. Of course, you can always whip out the machine gun and gun people down. That's a bit conventional. The more exotic way of killing people involves whipping out the new badger gun (literally a snarling badger) and running people down with it.

Desi notes that like the previous games, there will be two ways of playing. He said that it will be possible to play through Postal III without killing a single person. And the over-the-top violence in the game almost makes it farcical in comparison to much darker, grimmer games about violence. From what we saw, Postal III is filled with all sorts of satirical humor. The posters in the porn shop were all puns of popular movies, though we won't share the details on those.

There is an audience for the Postal series. We asked Desi about the geographical distribution of his fans. Interestingly, he said that the games were really strong in the southwest and southeast portions of the country. He noted that the portions included the Bible Belt, and "pretty much where the NRA is strong." Desi added that there are Postal fans overseas in many countries too. The bad news for all of them is that they'll have to wait until 2009 to get their hands on Postal III.

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