Whiplash - Review
Another platform game, another tiresome 20 hours of my life wasted... or so I thought. But hang on a second, Whiplash is different. It's funny, very funny in fact. The humour is probably second only to that in the Jak & Daxter games (well third if you count them as two games) on the PS2 and closely related to the sense of humour between LucasArts' Sam and Max games all those years ago. Even the storyline has a unique sense of humour instilled within it.
|Spanx and Redmond.|
It's animal anarchy! Shackled and forced to work together, Spanx (the weasel) and Redmond (the rabbit) are fugitives on the run from an unscrupulous product-testing lab before they undergo one more demented animal experiment. As Spanx, you will use the disgruntled Redmond as your tool and weapon to not only escape, but also to free other enslaved animals and sabotage the evil corporation.
Essentially, Whiplash is a platform game set within a animal testing facility where your two characters are trying to escape. The game has a couple of neat twists though. The first is that the two heroes Spanx and Redmond are shackled together. Spanx, being the larger of the two, uses Redmond in a variety of rather torturous ways including spinning him around as a propeller, using him as a grappling hook, throwing him into gears to open doors and swinging him around to smash up facilities in the levels. Indeed that is the second aspect that makes this game so enjoyable, being able to smash most objects in the game world from computers, to glass, to pictures, to lab equipment. It's not essential to your progression, but you'll want to do it for fun, and to bankrupt the evil corporation.
|Redmond = grappling hook.|
Control of the characters is a joy, although the camera could have been a little better in places. While I can see why some animal activists won't like the title (I would doubt they've even played it!) I thought the way you can use Redmond in (obviously painful) situations was hilarious. If Redmond is used too frequently he enters a "hyper" mode where, as the name suggest, he goes crazy for a short period of time destroying everyone and everything in his path. Finally, the enemy AI isn't the best, but it serves its purpose.
There are a couple of niggles with Whiplash. Firstly, it's easy to get a little lost in the game, and replay entire sections already complete before making it back to the next task. Some more guiding, and certainly a better map, would have been welcome. Also there are sections of the game where the characters must crouch down to a crawl through ducting. This is nice in short sections, but later stages of the game have lengthy sections of this. The purpose of smashing up the equipment, although never becoming tiresome, isn't defined well enough. Perhaps more rewards could/should have been given. Finally, although Crystal Dynamics have tried to hide it in an elevator sequence the load times between the levels could have been better, it's over 30 seconds, but does occur very infrequently thankfully.
|Look out for security cameras.|
Graphics aren't going to win any awards, but having said that they aren't too shabby either. Cut-scenes in Whiplash deserve a special mention with many great moments between the lead characters, especially when they encounter new situations. The characters are well animated with a wonderful sense of humour displayed even through their movements. The levels and characters, however, could have done with some more detail, they're a little flat in places. Textures and lighting through the game is only better then average while the camera is pretty good but could have done with a bit more work. The frame rate also struggles a bit at times, especially when there is plenty happening on screen. Fortunately the disruptions are minimal.
As you would expect from a game such as Whiplash the sound retains the wacky sense of fun seen throughout the game. The music is up-tempo and effects solid enough, but it's the speech that really stands out as something special. Even in the opening sections of the game a deep booming voice tells you what to do with Redmond stating something to the effect of "Hey, it's the voice from all those movie trailers". Another example is early in the game when you jump over boxes for the first time Redmond comments "yes, yes, jumping over boxes we've all done this before". While the game starts off with a bang the humour seems to wane towards the end and it becomes missed somewhat.
|Time to run boys.|
Some games come with so much hype it's almost impossible for them to succeed critically. Case in point: Eidos' Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness. Why is it then that a game such as this one, Whiplash, is released with almost no hype or marketing and yet manages to be infinitely better, if still slightly flawed. I guess one upshot is that the developer of this game, Crystal Dynamics, are going to be making the next Tomb Raider game for Eidos after the publishers took development away from Core Design a couple of months ago. Whiplash is one game that deserves to do well, and a sequel would be most welcome.
Review By: David Warner
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|GRAPHICS||The levels and characters could have been better, good animation.||72%|
|SOUND||The voice acting is pretty good, the music and effects also solid.||80%|
|GAMEPLAY||The sense of fun makes this game quite enjoyable and worth playing.||77%|
|VALUE||Will you replay the game? Probably not, but there's lots of fun here.||70%|
|OVERALL||Whiplash is a game that flew under the radar of most people, but it's certainly worth a look with a wacky sense of humour that should keep most gamers hooked.||75%|