Whiplash PlayStation 2 Official Website
Developed by Crystal Dynamics
Released - Out Now
Price : £39.99
It's all too easy to forget just what deaf gamers can miss out on from the lack of subtitles in a game. It's not just the basic instructions and the general gist of the game's plot that are given with subtitles, it can be other elements too. Humour for instance adds to the ambience of a game. Imagine Monkey Island without subtitles, it would have had no humour at all (as it happens it is one of the most humorous games of all time) and would have become a mundane point 'n' click exercise. Humour is a great ingredient in a game and one that is all too rare. Why have I opened the review with this? Well Whiplash is one of those games that is actually funny but because of the absence of subtitles deaf gamers will only be partially aware of it.
Whiplash sees you controlling the chained together, animal double act of an electro-shock tested weasel named Spanx and a makeup-tested rabbit called Redmond. You take control of them as they make a bid for freedom from the evil Genron Corporation who have been abusing animals in all kinds of ways in order to research new products. Spanx and Redmond have been chained together in order to be taken to the Genetic Recombinator where they will be combined to form a unique species that would be suitable for some new purpose. It's time for the animals to fight back though and Spanx and Redmond are just the characters to do it.
Essentially Whiplash is an action/platform game in the same style of Jak II and Ratchet & Clank. Overall the game play elements are perhaps not as impressive as the aforementioned games but that's not to say it isn't enjoyable. It's rather ironic that these two animals are fleeing from abuse from the Genron Corporation and in doing so, Spanx treats Redmond just about as harshly as he possible could. Not only does he use him as a weapon but you'll see him set Redmond alight and also use him as a circuit breaker amongst many other things.
In fact the list of weapons in the game are all variations on a rabbit theme. Hare-Sicle, Helium Bunny, Bunny Fuse, Chocolate Bunny and Hyper Hare are just some of the weapons that Redmond will be transformed into. Throughout the game you'll have to take out the Genron scientists, Hazmats and the Cafeteria lady as well as having to destroy their equipment and free other animals as you attempt to escape the evil clutches of the Genron Corporation. There are also a few stealth moments, as is the fashion these days, where sneaking around security spotlights is required if you don't want to arouse the attention of nearby enemies.
The graphics in Whiplash are exactly what you'd expect from a PlayStation 2 action/platformer game, nothing more and nothing less. The various locations in the game simply look OK and in regards to texture detail they look a little bland. The character models are also simply OK. The lack of detail is more obvious in the human character models and the faces, in particular, look really basic for a PlayStation 2 game. Still the advantage of the game having such a conservative use of the PlayStation 2 system resources is that the frame rate isn't troubled in the slightest and the game remains smooth throughout.
You've probably already guessed from the opening paragraph that there are problems for deaf gamers. The cutscenes are not subtitled and with the games introductory cutscene explaining exactly what's been going on, in regards to the abuse of the animals etc., this is rather unfortunate. We talked about deaf gamers missing out on humour in games where subtitles are not provided and all of the games humorous comments are, in effect, hidden from a deaf gamer. Some of the humour is visual though and it's a Tom and Jerry kind of humour where one of the double act loves to inflict painful damage (although it's never gory or distasteful) on the other one. You'll also receive some verbal hints in the game and deaf gamers will also miss out on these too, which again is a shame. The basic tutorial messages are shown in text and you'll be notified in text if you've reached a checkpoint (you can save at any time but you'll always return to the last checkpoint you passed). In short then the experience for a deaf gamer is nowhere near as good as it should be.
If you play Whiplash having played Jak II or Ratchet & Clank 2 it's a fair bet that you'll compare it to those games and find it wanting. It's not a bad game by any means and if it were subtitled it would be worth playing just for the humour it dishes out but the fact is that the game is not subtitled and thus you'll be missing out on the best part of the game, which is really disappointing. The game is not impossible to play and you could still enjoy some of the visual humour on offer but it's not fair that deaf gamers should not only miss out on the main story of the game but also it's many funny moments.
Game Rating: 5.0/10
An enjoyable game that is seriously hampered by the lack of subtitles. The fact that this also means you'll miss out on a lot of the games humour is simply criminal.
Like the previous Crystal Dynamics developed games, Whiplash doesn't really cater for deaf gamers.