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Video Game / The Punisher (THQ)

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A Third-Person Shooter released in 2005 by THQ based on Marvel's The Punisher and written by frequent Punisher writer Garth Ennis. The game starts with Frank Castle in an interrogation room in Ryker's Prison and the whole game is a series of flashbacks to the present.

A lot of the gameplay mechanics would later be seen in Volition's own series, Saints Row.

For the Arcade and Sega Genesis game, see The Punisher (Capcom).

Tropes featured:

  • 100% Heroism Rating: Some people Frank can encounter will actually thank him, and some such as the undertaker at the mob's funeral home will actually praise him for cleaning up the messes the cops won't (and for putting three of his kids through college). Even SHIELD agents and private security in the Zoo and the Stark Towers help and assist him. The only exception are the police themselves.
  • Absolute Cleavage: Black Widow's catsuit is unzipped to display a decent amount of clevage.
  • Arm Cannon: Bushwacker has a literal one.
  • Armor Is Useless: Heavily Armored Mook will die instantly if you quick-kill them. Averted if you attack them without quick-kill, however. In fact, Yakuza White Commandos can only be killed with either quick kills or headshots. Explosives and the flamethrower don't care about armor, though the White Commandos don't ignite and are cooked inside their armor allowing them to fight back for a few seconds if you are using a flamethrower.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking: "Now that I know the nuke is back on Grand Nixon Island with Kreigkopf, I need to rearm, patch the holes in my kevlar, and finish the rest of Joan's cookies."
  • Artificial Brilliance: The game's AI does a good job at making the enemies seem smart but also sufficiently flawed. They will take cover in firefights, and sometimes even use blind fire, only exposing the hand holding the gun. And if the AI is alerted but doesn't currently see you, they will head towards your last known position instead of gravitating where you are at the moment, which can provide a good opportunity to flank them.
  • Bad Boss: Implied with the Russian mercenary ship captain, the crew mentions that he shoots and dumps off the side any crew who disagrees with him and tells this to his face. Bushwacker too: he doesn't care about friendly fire, tells a mook Punisher interrogates into cooperating and who was attempting to make Bushwacker let go of a hostage to die like a man and doesn't care that he is burning down a library while his men are inside and the fact that it's his bosses house.
  • Badass Longcoat: The Punisher in most of the levels. A couple levels has him take it off in favor of his kevlar and T-Shirt and Grand Nixon Island has him in camouflage. Obviously the prison mission has him in inmate clothes.
  • Bad Guy Bar: Frank nonchalantly walks into a bar full of mob thugs, none of whom recognize him until he pulls his guns and kills them all. In a bizarre coincidence, Martin Soap was hanging out at the bar, but not killed because he was in the bathroom throwing up.
  • Bare Midriffs Are Feminine: There are at least 3 females in the crackhouse level, all of which wear a white t-shirt with a red star on the center of the chest, and tied in a knot to show their belly. All the other females the rest of the game have a shirt that only bares a sliver of midriff. The only exceptions are Joan, Black Widow (Though she wears a tight-skin suit that shows quite a bit of cleavage) and the tour guide in the Stark Towers level.
  • Big Bad: Jigsaw (a.k.a., John Saint), who has been seeking revenge on Frank and been manipulating him into taking out rival crime syndicates.
  • Black Humor: The story is written by Garth Ennis.
    • One particular highlight is the newspaper clipping which shows worker unions rejoicing after Punisher shoots up Russian criminal dock workers.
  • The Blade Always Lands Pointy End In: It certainly does when you enter Slaughter Mode.
  • Boisterous Bruiser: The Russian.
  • Bond One-Liner: Frank delivers these frequently, though internally.
  • Broad Strokes:
  • Bulletproof Human Shield: The Punisher can grab mooks and use them as this. Several mooks also do this with the most notable example of Bushwacker who uses his own minions as shields. Other mooks keep civilians, rival gang mooks and in one mission SHIELD agents hostage.
  • Cluster F-Bomb: There's quite a bit of swearing in this game. Frank himself doesn't curse, though.
  • Composite Character:
    • In this game, Jigsaw is John Saint, son of the villain from the 2004 film. Presumably this was done to give him a more personal connection to Frank.
    • This version of Frank also has elements from various versions of the character, as noted above in Broad Strokes.
  • Damsel in Distress: Joan in the fourth mission, whom you need to save from the hands of Bushwacker.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Frank does quite a bit of snarking in this game. Black Widow isn't far behind in the one mission she is in. The Mooks engage in it occasionally as well.
    Black Widow: [after Frank kills a bunch of bad guys interrogating her] What the hell are you doing here, Castle?
    The Punisher: You're welcome.

    Frank: [commenting on Soap's disguise] Nice disguise. Subtle. Inconspicuous.
    Soap: Yeah, it might be funny to you. But I'm dead if they find out I talked to you.
    Frank: So tell me something worth dying for.

    The Punisher: [talking about Bullseye] Tossed him out the window.
    The Kingpin: Are you planning the same fate for me?
    The Punisher: No, you I'd have to roll.

    Black Widow: [after the Punisher destroys an escaping boat full of mooks] Idiot! What if the nuke had been on board?
    The Punisher: Would've been a bigger bang.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: During Slaughter Mode everything except Frank and still living enemies turn black and white. The censored versions of the game do a black-and-white Gory Discretion Shot whenever Frank goes too far with a Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique.
  • Destination Defenestration: A couple of bad guys end up meeting this fate at The Punisher's hands. Crackheads, Ma and Eddie Gnucci (which in this case falls on fence spikes). Bullseye gets thrown off the top floor of the skyscraper and in post-credits reveals that he somehow survived this fall (albeit in very bad shape).
  • Died on Their Birthday: A Mook begs for mercy by saying it's his birthday. The last thing he hears is the reply, "Last one."
  • The Dragon: Bushwacker for the Gnuccis, Bullseye for The Kingpin and The Russian for... the Russians.
  • Dual Wielding: In Slaughter Mode Frank uses several pairs of knives. It's also possible to dual wield any combination of firearms (including two shotguns or two M16s).
  • Emergency Weapon: The Punisher can use "Quick Kills" on nearby enemies which involve killing them in several over the top ways. Nearby mooks who are very unfortunate enough to witness these kills will stop shooting briefly as they panic which gives Frank a few seconds to grab a human shield and/or finish them off before they start returning fire again. It gets pretty horrific as well with bottles jammed down throats, baseball bats shattered against skulls, wrenches impaled on backs, crowbars getting jammed into the jaw and used to shatter the neck, butcher knives into the eyes and TV's smashed through heads.
  • Enemy Mine: In one level, Frank helps out the Gnuccis clear out the Eternal Sun from their meat-packing plant. (Although Frank was planning to take them both out at once, but this makes things easier.) However, the Gnuccis unsurprisingly turn on him once the Yakuza are dealt with.
  • Enemy Chatter: Mooks talk a lot in this game.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • During the prison riot, a few inmates are planning to throw a child molester into a bonfire.
    • Some of Russian merchanaries express distaste that the captain is neglecting his duties for smuggling prostitutes aboard the ship, although they don't dare to object against it to his face.
    Russian Thug #1: Women aboard ship are bad, the captain neglects his duties.
    Russian Thug #2: Perhaps you should tell him. Then he will shoot you and dump your body overboard.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Eternal Sun over the course of game pick up the fights on other bad guys (Russians, Gnuccis and The Kingpin) with Frank being caught in middle of it.
  • Fisticuffs Boss: The first fight with the Russian.
  • Flamethrower Backfire: This is how you defeat the Russian (he throws Exploding Barrels at you). Can also happen non-explosively during gameplay if a flamethrower wielding mook ignites a corpse or an ally that he then walks near.
  • Gorn: This game almost got an AO rating purely for gratuitous violence. Stand outs include being tossed into sausage makers, getting pushed into a saw blade, drilling through the eye, nail gun into face, being tossed down elevator shafts, getting wrapped in plastic, sharks, rhino charge, snake attack, burning, the brutal quick kill executions, especially in slaughter mode and jamming grenades down throats.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: In censored versions of the game, a Deliberately Monochrome close up of the Punisher's face occurs whenever you kill someone with the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique.
  • Gratuitous Russian:
    • One of signs on "Igor Baltiysky" has such line: "В случае лестницы использования огня только" (rough translation: In case of ladder of using fire only). As you can guess, this doesn't make any sense in Russian.
    • Also, the sign in the cinematic after the Grand Nixon Island mission reads as "Смерть к Америке" (Death towards America), instead of more accurate "Смерть Америке" (Death to America).
  • Gun Porn: Similar to The Punisher: Armory, the game provides description for each unlocked weapon in the Safehouse with Frank narrating its history and use.
    The Punisher:(describing Barret M-95) For long-distance brain surgery, this bolt-action .50 caliber does the trick. It's balanced, powerful, and accurate.
  • Guns Akimbo: When using two weapons it's up to the player which one to shoot, making it possible to either go Woo-style, shoot both at once of pull a 'New York Reload'.
  • Hand Cannon: One of the handguns is literally named this.
  • Head Smashes Screen: The boss fight against the Russian has Frank smash his opponent's head through three different computer monitors and a television screen inside his apartment.
  • Heroic Bystander: In the zoo mission a few workers, when rescued, will take guns from dead enemies and help Castle as much as they can: one explains that, after witnessing the Gnuccis killing many animals senselessly, he wants to protect the ones still left in the zoo.
  • Hey, Catch!: One of the "Quick Kills" the Punisher can perform is to toss his current rifle at an enemy who will reflexively catch it, distracting him. The Punisher then shoots/stabs the guy in the face while he is distracted.
    • Another variation of this can be witnessed when the Punisher enters slaughter mode. Instead of a gun, Castle will instead toss both of his knives at his victim who catches both in each hand. Castle proceeds to force his enemy's hands up driving both of them into their throat.
  • High-Voltage Death: In the Rykers Island level, Frank comes across an inmate, a serial killer at that, in death row and the special interrogation involves him strapped into an electric chair. After interrogating him the player can then choose whether or not to fry him.
    • Not long later, he has to destroy a generator on the roof to cut the power and open a gate inside. Instead of wasting bullets, he can just grab an enemy and throw him on the generator - killing two birds with one stone, as they say.
  • Human Traffickers: While searching for the nuke on cargo ship that is being smuggled by Russian Mercenaries, Frank comes across containers containing some prostitutes that the Russians are intending to smuggle into New York for prostitution rings. This causes Frank to change his plans from just blowing the boat up to rescuing the women from the slavers, and while leaving he gives one of the former captives a detonator to blow up the slave ship for good.
    The Punisher: "This changes things. Smuggling in women to feed their prostitution rings. Can't blow the ship until I get women out. These guys went to the top of my list."
  • How We Got Here: The entire game is a series of flashbacks as to how Frank got to Ryker's island as he's being interrogated in prison, until the final level taking place there.
  • Immune to Bullets: As The Russian simply puts.
    The Russian: "Bullets are like mosquitoes to the Russian!"
  • Infernal Retaliation: Using the flamethrower will occasionally cause flaming mooks to run into and damage you. Also The Russian during the final phase of his boss fight.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: One of the main selling points of the game is the ability to inflict this on every mook you come across. Did we forget to mention that successfully breaking a mook is one of only two ways (three with a very expensive upgrade) for Frank to regain health?
  • The Joys of Torturing Mooks: One of the game's main features is the ability to torture mooks for information, and the game gives you a wide variety of ways to do so.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Takagi will ask that you kill him with his ceremonial katana.
  • Limited Loadout: Frank can carry one primary weapon (rifles, shotguns, SMG, explosive launchers or flamethrower) and dual-wield two side-arms of the same type (pistols, machine pistols or revolvers).
  • The Mafia: The Italian Gnucci family.
  • The Mafiya: Kreigkopf's Russian mercenaries.
  • The Mole: Detective Soap.
  • Mythology Gag: There's a lot of references to The Punisher's history scattered throughout the game, both pre- and post-Ennis.
    • There's a lot of dialogue either directly lifted from the comics note  or adapted from dialogue from the comics note 
    • The Russian, the Gnuccis, Frank's neighbors, Soap and Molly are all taken from Garth Ennis' run.
    • Two of the supervillains Frank fights, Bullseye and Bushwacker, are two he's fought in his comics as well. Damage is also a previous villain, who ended up as a cyborg in the comics.
    • The line "How many people have you killed?" "Not sure. There were a lot of explosions" is taken verbatim from a scene in one comic where Frank is confessing his sins.
    • The first boss fight with the Russian is lifted straight from The Punisher: Welcome Back, Frank, though Frank doesn't suffocate The Russian with his obese landlord this time.
    • The name of the Yakuza group "The Eternal Sun" is taken from a group of criminals Frank once fought.
    • The Eurohit story arc had Frank killing a Russian mobster by knocking him into a bear trap on a wall, and you can do the same during the level at Ma Gnucci's mansion.
    • Eddie Gnucci's death by being thrown off the window and falling on fence spikes plays the way how Frank disposed off Pittsy during In the Beginning arc in MAX run.
    • You can gain two special events that happen during interrogations per level: the first centering on Frank's memories of losing his family and something his hostage says inadvertently making Frank remember, replete with a relevant comic still, with the second recalling Vietnam or past (or even future) events, again with a relevant comic still.
    • The warpaint the Punisher during one mission resembles the face paint he wore in the 1989 film.
  • Neck Snap: Several of The Punisher's quick kills involve him snapping a mook's neck.
  • Never Hurt an Innocent: The Punisher is very ruthless when dealing with criminals, but not with innocents. He never lays a hand on them. In the game proper, if Frank shoots an innocent at all, the game is automatically over.
  • Oh, Crap!: Most of the dialogue of the mooks consists of this, based on both context and recognizing that the Punisher is attacking.
  • One-Handed Shotgun Pump: If you dual wield shotguns or one hand is busy holding a meat shield, this is how Frank works them.
  • Puzzle Boss: The Russian, due to his bullet-proof body, forces Frank to get creative when fighting the big man.
  • Ragdoll Physics: In additional to standard ragdoll physics, there's an unlockable cheat that'll cause the enemies to practically fly into the air when you shoot them.
  • Regenerating Health: Frank's health regenerates up to 20% if it happens to be critically low. Health can be also slowly regained over time during Slaughter Mode.
  • Reptiles Are Abhorrent: In the Grand Nixon Island level, one of the special kill areas involves the Punisher feeding a mook to a giant boa constrictor. And we are treated to the sounds of bones crunching.
    The Punisher: Don't let that snack spoil your dinner.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: The revolver and Hand Cannon are both very accurate.
  • Retirony: Many mooks claim they were about to retire/are married/have kids/whatever. It's possible to leave them alive... Buuuuuut you don't have to. Whatever brings the most catharsis, I suppose.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: In-universe, Soap massively screws up the legend of Hercules fighting the hydra, and Richtofen and Frank are quick to correct him.
    Soap: Whatever, it's still a good metaphor!
    Frank: Analogy.
  • Seppuku: Takagi's geisha bodyguards, provided you kill him the way he asks you to, will commit ritual suicide soon after.
  • Scoring Points: Points are earned by kills, successfully breaking enemies during interrogation and performing "Special Kills", and is multiplied by killing streaks. Getting Frank shot or doing friendly fire on allies/innocents causes the multiplier to reset. The game also encourages use of different weapons and interrogation methods since the players will receive less points than previous ones if they keep using same weapon and/or interrogation. Medals are earned by reaching specific high scores and these points can be used to buy upgrades (accuracy increase, body armor durability, weapon upgrades, Slaughter Mode duration etc.)
  • Sequel Hook: The last scene of the game is The Kingpin swearing vengeance on Castle while Bullseye's broken body is wheeled away. Unfortunately, it never came to be.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Many mooks mention Daredevil, and Daredevil (in his civilian identity of Matt Murdock) does walk into Frank's interrogation to be his court-appointed legal defense, only to be swiftly dismissed by Frank.
    • During an assault on a group of Yakuza: "Oh no. They killed Kenchi."
    • At one point the Russian knocks out Nick Fury while shouting "it's clobbering time!" He even tells that the Thing is popular in Russia, in line with his chracterization as a fan of American superheroes.
    • When there is rumbling at Star Towers and security measures activate, Doctor Freeman speculates that maybe the guys at quantum mechanics finally managed to open a portal to another dimension.
    • Upon killing one of their comrades, Russian Mooks will sometimes say "Poor Yorrick, I knew him well."
  • Shown Their Work: One of the best aspects of the game is that the developers REALLY know the Punisher comics, and not in a "for this project" kind of way. Obviously, having Garth Ennis on-board helps, but the sheer number of Mythology Gag and Shout-Out moments throughout the game can really get a comic book fan to smile and geek out over all the little details throughout. Not bad for a game notorious for its Gorn and torture sequences, eh?
  • Suddenly Voiced: The Russian didn't speak a single word in the 2004 film. Here, he talks, a lot.
  • Super Mode: In "Slaughter Mode", the Punisher regains health and uses a limitless supply of dual throwing knives.
  • Throwaway Guns: When the Punisher is wielding a pair of two handed weapons (assault rifles, shotguns, machine guns, etc.), rather than try to reload both weapons at once he just tosses aside the second weapon.
  • Trauma Button: Mooks saying certain words (Family, married, outnumbered, etc.) during interrogation will trigger flashbacks made out of comic book panels. Frank will normally have a witty retort.
  • Threatening Shark: The "Pier 74" level features an interrogation where you can hold a mook over the edge of a pier with a shark circling.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You can knock out captured enemies instead of killing them.
    • If you do this after triggering a flashback, Frank will comment on this.
      Yakuza member: I'll go straight, I promise!
      The Punisher: Keep that promise.
    • Another example includes this.
      Gnucci Member: I'm gonna be a daddy!
      The Punisher: Be a good one.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: The game's big draw was the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique, wherein Frank could beat, threaten, or otherwise pry answers out of enemy grunts he manages to grab. Combine that with environment specific actions (piranha tank interrogation anyone?), and you have this trope. If you have a flashback and kill the mook, Frank will often have a particularly vicious response.
    Russian Mercenary: Why don't you kill me?
    The Punisher: Wish granted.
    • Another example being:
    Fisk Industries Guard: I was just following orders.
    The Punisher: Orders are no excuse.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: If you go through with killing an enemy with said interrogation, you end up getting points deducted from your final stage score. (Despite the fact that this is expected of Frank.)
  • Vigilante Man: Frank, as always.
  • Yakuza: The Eternal Sun.
  • Would Not Hit a Girl: As in the comics, The Punisher very rarely kills a woman, unless the woman is involved with the criminals he's fighting, or in charge of them. Most of the women in this game are considered innocent. The only exceptions are Ma Gnucci, and Takagi's geisha bodyguards. (Unless you kill Takagi the way he asks you to. They will then leave Frank alone and commit Ritual Suicide.)
  • Your Head A-Splode: It's entirely possible to blast off the heads and limbs of enemies.