Boss Fight Books: Postal (#23) – Brock Wilbur & Nathan Rabin

3 out of 5

Presented in the digestible, pocket-sized Boss Fight Books format, Brock Wilbur’s and Nathan Rabin’s review and critique of Postal is a fair evening’s distraction, but, perhaps tellingly, is at its most compelling when diving into the tangential topic of Uwe Boll – director of the Postal movie – than when going over the original game’s premise and levels, or the principle “face” of the game, Vince Desi.  Both Wilbur (covering the game) and Rabin (covering the movie) are entertaining writers, although Wilbur has less material to really dive in to, and so stretches out his sequences with humorous asides that relegate the 150ish page book to more of a hot take than a focused study; Rabin, meanwhile, gets to combine a light history of Boll’s career with possible interpretations of a film which, arguably, had more to “say” than its source game, and so can deliver something with more depth.  For the other bits, Postal, as a game, is really surface, as is Vince Desi – founder of the company that produced the game and its sequels, and interviewed by Wilbur – and so there’s not much to do with it beyond describe what it is, and describe the levels, and then offer up shock jock quotes from Desi with as little bias as possible.  I’d say it’s done well, but again, it can only be dressed up and stretched out so much, and there’s at least an appreciated attempt at comparing how the game may have been perceived Then (1997) versus the very different Now of 2020.

The packaging and presentation of Boss Fight make it work – these books can afford to occasionally be a bit fluffier, as they’re quick reads and have the benefit of being nestled amidst a set of several stand out volumes – and, if anything, helps to confirm this gamer’s reaction to playing Postal years after the fact and not having much to say about it.