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Which Console Did You Buy/Receive Over The Holidays?

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Game Profile
Presto Studios
GENRE: Party
PLAYERS:   1-4
October 08, 2002
 Written by Ryan Smotherman  on October 28, 2002

First Impressions: Yeah, if Lucy's censor bars were to disappear, something would be getting ?whacked? all right.

To say Whacked! stands out from most games on the market today would be a definite understatement. This Xbox title, from Presto Studios, is set around one of the oddest concepts I've seen in a long time ? basically, it takes place in a game show that's gone horribly wrong; complete with off-the-wall contestants, your standard big toothed pretty boy host (his name is Van Tastic, hah), and tons of killing action. Unfortunately, like any game that puts so much emphasis on it's overall presentation and humor, the gameplay turned out to be a bit stale, if only because it's so simple in nature.

Something Whacked! certainly has going for it is substance ? complete with 8 different characters to choose from, 14 insane levels, over 30 weapons and power-ups, and a variety of different gameplay modes. The contestants in the game are as crazy as you'd expect; featuring characters like the aforementioned Lucy, who's? umm, huge attributes are hidden only by a couple slim censor bars, and Lucky, a rabbit who's now bandage covered limbs where stolen by the Good-Luck-Charm factory (wow, who comes up with this sadistic stuff?). The premise of the game sets these wacky contestants in an over-the-top arena and let's them battle each other in a slew of different games ? from a full on frag fest, to star collecting mayhem, an insane king of the hill battle (might be familiar to Halo fans), a game of dodgeball, and even a single player mode where you're assaulted by a barrage of man-killing chickens (yes, drugs were probably involved in the making of this game). All these modes really keep the game fresh, and for the most part they're surprisingly fun.

Continuing this insane theme are the arenas themselves. For the most part they're fairly small, but they're in no way lacking in originality and creativity. Just to point out a few, there's a level centered around a car accident, a Christmas tree (complete with a train that circles around), a kitchen sink (with a drain that will pull you in), and a crazy police chase that finds you in the back of a pick-up truck with the police hot on your tail. Of course, these are just a few of them, and the further you progress the crazier it gets. Definitely one of the high points in the game.

Gameplay in Whacked! Is where things start coming apart; it's simple and has a very pick up and play feel, but sadly its lacking sorely in depth. That's not to say it can't be a lot of fun though. The controls are about as undemanding as you could ask for ? the two thumbsticks control your movement and the camera, you have an attack and a jump button, and you can strafe left and right with the trigger buttons. Weapons are picked up by simply running over them, and if you want to change which weapon you have, you must stand on it for a couple seconds. This leaves you wide open for attacks, which sort of adds a level of strategy. But for the most part the game is mindless attacking and running around. This of course brings us to the weapons aspect. Whacked! is absolutely loaded with unique weaponry. Ranging from duck grenades, to plunger missiles, to the egg shooting Yolk-O-Matic. Overall there are 20 different weapons; more than enough to keep the average gamer entertained. The game also doesn't skimp on the power-ups either. While in the middle of the game you'll sometimes see a question mark laying around, grab it and you will be given one of many different abilities ? including invisibility, an armor enhancement, and many more. As you can see, the game won't win any gameplay rewards, but it certainly earns marks for its huge diversity.

Whacked! is split up into two basic modes ? the single player Gameshow mode and the standard versus mode. The Gameshow mode works like the basic story mode you'd find in any game. Here you'll go through 4 different rounds, each with 9 different stages. In between rounds you'll encounter some amusing cutscenes, and between each stage you are treated to some very strange, yet highly amusing commercials. Though, the most important thing about the mode is that it is where you'll unlock all the different characters, weapons, and power-ups to be used in the game (for example, you only start out with 4 selectable characters, and must progress through this mode to unlock the rest).

When it comes to multiplayer, Whacked! has a number of options at your disposal ? including split-screen, system link, and full Xbox Live support. But regardless of which way you play, a maximum of 4 players at once is the limit, which is sort of a let down. I really don't see why 8 at once couldn't have been done; it certainly would have made for more intense gameplay.

On the visual side of things, Whacked! is a very colorful and smooth looking game. Unfortunately, nothing really special is going on here. As mentioned before, the environments are fairly small, though, they are rather interesting, and the character models are way to tiny while in the midst of all the action. Also, don't count on seeing very many Xbox only effects. As it stands, this is something I could very easily see the PS2 pulling off. The sound in the game comes off being a little above average, with well-done voiceovers and very fitting music.

Bottom Line
In the end, Whacked! would make for a great party game, and might be a game you'll want to check out once Xbox Live is up and running. But for most, this is a game that'll probably be overlooked, and rightfully so. While fun, the gameplay is nothing really special, and cosmetically, it doesn't impress. What it does have going for it though, is a great variety overall, and a lot of personality (which some might actually hate). It's also one of the most insane games I've ever laid eyes on. With all factors into play, Whacked! equals a solid 7 out of 10 in my book.

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