It’s taken some time, but humor is slowly worming its way into video games. Usually it’s thrown in on the side, or is there by default (as was the case with SpongeBob SquarePants: Battle for Bikini Bottom). A few games have been promoted as being full-fledged comedies, but the writing has yet to match the quality of film or TV.
Eidos hoped to change that with Whiplash. Whiplash is a kooky, funny adventure that will garner at least a smirk from the opening sequence alone. It’s not totally kid-friendly; the humor is geared more towards the early teen to adult age group. Now I’m not saying that kids shouldn’t play this, but they do make light of frying animals (in the literal sense) and the whole game is filled with destruction. On the other hand, there’s not any blood or gore, so if your kids are mature enough to handle cartoon violence, they shouldn’t be restricted from playing this game.
The destructive element is my favorite part. Computers and other electronic equipment are everywhere in the game. Some is used to lock up animals, lock doors and create other barriers that must be broken, but for the most part you’ll encounter equipment that does absolutely nothing. Why would you want to destroy it then? Because it’s fun! That, and because you gain points from doing it. You never really know what you could retrieve from a machine unless you wreck it.
How you wreck it is where most of the cartoon violence comes in. Whiplash stars a weasel (Spanx) and a rabbit (Redmond). In a fashion similar to Abe’s Oddysee, they’re being held captive by an evil corporation. The corporation doesn’t want their “juice” though; it wants their bodies for experiments. The two animals are chained together, creating a number of amusing joint attacks. Spanx is the commander, so it’s Redmond who ends up getting thrown around as if he were a ball attached to the chain. Pre-release details were scarce as to why the two characters are chained together in the first place, but the game’s intro movie explains the reason for it.
After whipping Redmond around for a while, you’ll notice that pressing the attack button no longer changes the attack formation. The standard tap-tap-tap combos are temporarily eliminated. Redmond currently goes berserk, flying up and down, destroying everything in his path. The only thing that keeps him in place is the fact that he’s chained to Spanx. Redmond can wreck machinery and defeat enemies faster when he’s berserking.
Whiplash will likely be perceived as an action/adventure, but the gameplay involves more enemy-fighting than item-collecting. I wouldn’t call it a beat-’em-up, but it feels like it’s moving in that direction when you start pummeling. None of the enemies are particularly difficult by themselves, but in large numbers the flamethrower-toting Hazmats can be a bit of a pain. The security guards’ strength also depends on their numbers, though I never felt overwhelmed, regardless of how many were attacking. Downed enemies can be hit continually for fun and to retrieve points and health items. They’ll stop dropping things after about three or four items have fallen out, indicating it’s time to move onto your next victim. But until that happens it gives you a reason to stick around and really stick it to those unconscious foes. Does anyone actually die in this game? It doesn’t appear that way. So while it is violent, it’s done in a very fictional way.
While the idea is fresh, the levels are a little generic. They’re not the kind you usually see in an action/adventure, but they won’t be unfamiliar to any gamer who plays first-person shooters. You’re trying to break out of a lab/factory-type place, so the game mostly consists of dark, less exciting areas. Hallways seem to repeat themselves, and no matter how many rooms you visit they never seem to change that much. There is of course more than a lab to explore, but several of the areas within each level repeat themselves.
Whiplash is one of those “try it and see” kinds of games. Most gamers won’t be dying to run out and buy it. The screenshots might encourage you to do that, but after playing it for a while you might think otherwise. It’s fun but it’s short-lived. You should be certain that you know what you’re getting yourself into before shelling out the full price for it.
It’s all about the button-tapping. Fighting fans call this “mashing,” though I wouldn’t falsely label this game as a button-masher. Sixty to seventy percent of Whiplash involves attacking enemies and destroying their property. The other thirty percent is all about exploring and trying to figure out what to do next (hey look, there’s a locked door and a switch over there. I wonder what might happen if I push it?). It’s not an intelligent game by any means. But for some reason or other I enjoyed it. I wouldn’t tell the world to go out and buy it, but if you’re curious, try it out at Game Bust or Game Crazy.
Whiplash’s graphics are a bit drab. They’re somewhat grainy and lack the colorfulness of other PS2 titles.
The voices are a little annoying, but their dialogue is humorous enough to make up for that.
Frustration occurs more frequently than a real challenge, but it isn’t a very difficult game to conquer.
I like the idea of games that have a comedic story instead of being serious or just plain stupid. At this point though video games are still far behind the movie industry. Whiplash is funny, but it has more to do with on-screen actions than the dialogue. The whole game will make you laugh, but it isn’t the comedy-fest I was hoping for.
As far as the gameplay goes, you’ve experienced it before in many other titles.
Do you hate kiddie cartoons? Would you like to see a bunny fry? If so, then Whiplash might just be the game for you. It doesn’t have depth or any mind-blowing mechanics, but the destroy-everything-in-sight gameplay is more rewarding than you’d expect. The story is humorous, but not to the point where I’d recommend that you buy the game for it alone. You’ll laugh but you won’t be rolling on the floor for hours, unless this is the kind of thing that does that to you.
This is one of the cheaper games available (the MSRP is $40), but I’d suggest that most gamers rent this title and see how much fun they can extract from that five-day period. After that the only thing standing between you and total abandonment is replay value, which depends on how much you enjoyed the experience the first time around.