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Score: 86%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Eidos Interactive
Developer: Crystal Dynamics
Media: DVD/1
Players: 1
Genre: Platformer

Graphics & Sound:
Imagine a corporation who's CEO believes that we (as humans) have been giving all the animals a free ride for far too long. A CEO who thinks that it is his duty to put these animals to work. Well this is the Genron Corporation, a facility who uses monkeys for anti-gravity tests, genetically alters skunks to spray gas and combines other animals into newer and 'better' species (for instance taking a weasel and a rabbit and forming a weasit... or maybe it will be a reasel). That is the premise of Whiplash. Here you will play as two escaping animals that feel it is necessary to bring down this cruel and unusual company.

The models and levels in Whiplash are pretty good, and the characters aren't super-smooth, but they have enough curves in them to still be impressive. Basically this stuff as just above average, but it isn't what I want to talk about in this section.

While the graphical problems I have seen in Whiplash don't quite reach the same level as another Eidos game (*cough* Tomb Raider: Angel of Darkness *cough*), it isn't very far behind.

The first bug I found in Whiplash was when I found myself in the first elevator in the game. Since I actually had to wait several seconds for the elevator to take me where I was going, I decided to start walking around and jumping (hey, it kept me from getting bored, and you wouldn't like me when I get bored). Anyway, while moving and jumping around inside the elevator, the frame rate took some major hits. I don't mean a slight slowdown or jumping. One frame I was on the left side of the elevator, and then after a jump I was on the right side. Thinking this may just be a fluke with the elevator I was on at the time, I tried it on every elevator I came across - it wasn't.

One feature I found nice in Whiplash, but later found a glitch in this system as well, was the transition between controlled play and in-game cinematics. As the animation starts, the HUD fades away and the screen slides into a letterbox. Like I said, this was a great feature. It was simple and I can see how it would be easily implemented. Unfortunately, I ran into a problem with this as well.

At one point, I triggered a cut-scene, and when it was over, instead of the letterboxing pulling away - it stayed there. Well that wouldn't be a huge problem - almost forgivable, but when the HUD returned, I found that the letterboxes covered half of my information. When I say half I mean - half of my health bars and every other item that bordered on the black boxes. This led to a bit of frustration - thankfully when I reached the end of the next cut-scene, the letterboxes pulled away.

Though it may not seem like these couple of bugs aren't a lot to gripe about - they do give the appearance of sloppy development and, the letterboxing problem at least, shouldn't have been hard to fix. I couldn't help but wonder when the next problem would come up, and this took away from my enjoyment of the game.

As far as the sound is concerned, Redmond's constant criticism and banter towards the weasel Spanx is funny and happens just enough to stay in your mind while not driving you crazy. Also Redmond's statements are rarely the one-liners you find in most games.

Whiplash's music is basic and really nothing you will remember after turning off the game. It works well, but for some reason it doesn't stand out as one of the most important and wonderful features found in Whiplash.

The story behind Whiplash is pretty simple - your characters have been set free (just before being combined into a weasit or reasel) inside the Genron Corporation and you have been asked by a mysterious computer voice to wreak havoc and free as many animals as you can as you attempt to escape the animal testing facility.

As you travel throughout the building, you will find many tempting targets to bust up and destroy -- this is good, basically your goal is to bankrupt the company. Destroy everything you can so that Genron's net worth (displayed at the bottom-center of the screen) will diminish. You (as Spanx the weasel) will use your indestructible bunny (Redmond) for everything from a weapon to a grappling hook to zip lines.

So what is so great about having a sarcastic indestructible bunny chained to you? Basically, Redmond is your main weapon in the fight against animal cruelty. You will sling him around knocking out all the humans in your path (yes that's right, knocking them out -- you won't be killing them). There will also be various terminals along the animal's path to escape. When you stuff the irritable rabbit in these terminals, he will take on one of several traits that can be used in the game's misadventures. Redmond can be frozen, set on fire, electrocuted and several more havoc-wreaking conditions. You will also use Redmond to destroy pieces of machinery in order to break into rooms.

Whiplash has an interesting RPG quality to it. After knocking out a Genron worker, more than likely they will drop what is called Hypersnacks. These are used to power up your two characters. You can either have the game divvy up these snacks itself or tell it how much you want to go to each character. The more they get, the stronger they become, and it's as simple as that.

There was one flaw with the design of the levels in this game. Every now and then (rarely but still there) I would find myself in a room that I couldn't get out of. I couldn't find the solution to the problem. Typically I feel that if you ever find a point in any game where you don't know what to do -- there is a problem with the game's design.

You will find most of Whiplash to be easy to run through (if you are a fan of platformer action, that is) because the enemies are spaced out just right and the platformer-style levels are pretty straight-forward. Though these levels are easy to go through at times, there are pieces that can get a bit frustrating. You will find yourself making the same mistakes in this game than you would most other platformers -- misjudging distances, slightly off timing, things like that.

Game Mechanics:
Whiplash's control scheme is rather basic and fairly intuitive. You will find the same system in this game that you will in most others of its type. You can jump with the X button, attack with the Circle and Triangle buttons and activate grapples and zip lines with the Square button.

As you progress through the game, you will gain the ability to do other attacks -- combos that will do more damage with each hit. The list of combos grows rather fast as you destroy company material and free animals. Eventually you will have a wide range of attacks to take on pretty much any of the evil corporation's baddies.

Despite Whiplash's graphical bugs and occasional seemingly dead ends, it isn't that bad of a game. I wouldn't necessarily recommend buying it unless you are a platformer junkie, but it is definitely worth the rent. It has a unique story attacking a real problem in a cartoony fashion, and the characters are ones that you will definitely get a kick out of.

-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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