Voice Module








In Memory
Sean Pettibone





Whirl Tour is an action-sports title for the PS2 with some cool stunts and moves making for some challenging gameplay. The game has cool environments and interesting boss characters with loads of secrets to uncover. The light-hearted approach gives it a different take on the genre, which should appeal to younger gamers. Unfortunately, many of Whirl Tour's elements are derivative of other games. It uses generic controls, conventions and play mechanics, but not as well as titles such as Tony Hawk. The Laser takes a spin with Whirl Tour and find out if it has enough originality to merit a purchase or if the game is just another me-too title.

Whirl Tour begins as the six members of a band named Flip Side are playing a gig. Suddenly, they're sucked into a vortex by a mysterious henchman. As the audience sits stunned, their roadie jumps inside the vortex and has travel through a series of strange and dangerous worlds to rescue them. You'll play as the roadie initially and will face many obstacles on your mission. You'll have to do this without getting killed because you have a life bar designated by a skull and if the energy is depleted, you die. Luckily, you'll find numerous health-power-ups on each level. Players will find a several different types of power-ups that will increase their speed, health, adrenaline, and balance abilities. These work for a short time, so you should use them wisely. These power-ups work in tandem with combo moves to increase their longevity and your score. Additionally, you'll find scooter icons scattered around each level and collecting 20 will unlock a new scooter.

Players can play through the game solo or with a friend in competitive or co-operative modes. There are three multiplayer modes and two of these are competitive modes where you try to outscore your opponent's trick score. More interestingly, there is a co-operative story mode where both can try to defeat the bosses. Whirl Tour also includes a practice mode that is useful for polishing your skills and learning the level layouts. However, most important modes of play in Whirl Tour are Arcade and Story. The arcade mode lets you play any open area, but you can't unlock any extras or secrets. The main mode is the Story mode, which allows you to fight the bosses and find the numerous secrets. In this mode, each level has a series of challenges available to the player, and completing these gives you another point to unlock additional areas. In this mode, the runs last for 2 minutes, and players only have to complete these tasks before the timer runs out. Some of these involve getting a high-score, hitting switches and grinding over certain types of objects. Other tasks are more complex and require you to collect all the icons on the level. Finally, each level has two boss characters waiting for you that need to be defeated.

Once you defeat a boss, they'll drop a key. Collect both keys and you'll unlock a hidden area where the power-generator is located. Once you find the generator, you must shut this down in order free one of the captured band-members. After freeing them, you race against one of the captured band-members. Winning this race unlocks them as a playable character that will also show you new moves to use. Whirl Tour is non-linear and you don't need to complete the objectives in any particular order. Additionally, you can unlock levels before you've completed all the objectives, which makes the game a bit easier. Players can also to trigger cool special events, and unlock bonus levels by exploring the levels fully. The levels are large and the game will take awhile to master. It can be frustrating to see items just out of reach, but patience is a virtue. A good strategy in these situations is to revisit levels after your character has been enhanced, which should make these previously unattainable items come easily within reach.

Each character in Whirl Tour can perform more than 80 moves including freestyle, ground, lip, rail, and air tricks. This versatility allows you to inject a lot of your own personality into the game. Tricks can be chained together to perform combos for big points. Additionally, players can perform "Sick Tricks" for spectacular moves and big points. Each character in the game has slightly different moves, which adds to the game's challenge. Whirl Tour has a surprising amount of depth in this department with many cool moves to master including nose-plants, grinding, ollies, manuals, lip tricks, grabs and more. Whirl Tour's controls are easy to learn and performing moves and chains is quite simple, requiring only the press of a button or two. Unfortunately, the controls aren't as responsive as one would like and moving the scooters can be a little awkward at first, especially when you want to perform quick turns. This gets better as you master the game's nuances, but is still aggravating throughout. This sluggish control is a bit annoying makes performing many of the more advanced moves clunky and frustrating. This gets in the way of the action more than it helps. The balance system isn't as intuitive as Hawk's, which makes grinding more difficult than it needs to be. It comes close, but Whirl Tour tries too hard and fails to match Tony Hawk's intuitive controls.

You'll immediately notice that Whirl Tour's structure is a lot like Tony Hawk and the game even uses similar camera angles to spotlight the challenges between rounds. The gameplay feels very similar as well, with similar mechanics and goals, right down to the 'events' that players can trigger. Not that taking ideas from the best games is necessarily a bad thing, but the lifting here is blatant at certain points. This doesn't make Whirl Tour terrible and in fact, the game is actually solid in its mechanics and technical aspects. It's just disappointing because the plot and character designs could have led to some interesting gameplay innovations. However, in its defense, the game's cartoonish design and zany characters lends it a different feel, as do the environments. Whirl Tour's boss characters are very difficult to beat and add a new dimension to the gameplay. This goes a long way in developing a unique personality for the game and helps it stand out from the pack.

Whirl Tour's graphics are impressive with nicely rendered levels that immerse players into the game's surreal world. The camera angles are adequate for the most part and are adjustable on the fly, which makes finding objects and landing tricks much easier. Whirl Tour's levels take place in environments that include everything from movie sets, haunted castles, theme parks, suburbs and even sunken battleships. Finally, the final level boss confrontation takes place in Tibet and is worth the effort to see. This gives Whirl Tour more visual variety than other games, and the constantly changing environments and bosses make it loads of fun to play. Character animation is excellent and the game runs at a smooth pace. Whirl Tour's soundtrack is decent as well with the usual pop-punk, ska and electronic music available in the game's jukebox, but there's an interesting twist. When a player collects 3 CD's on each level, they unlock additional songs on the soundtrack. This cool feature is integrated intelligently into the game because collecting all the CD's is a primary goal, not a side-quest.

While it's not the most-original title on the market, Whirl Tour is a decent game with a few twists on the action-sports genre. The controls are a tad sluggish which brings down the experience a few notches. Visually, Whirl Tour's graphics are decent with good level designs and sharp character animation. The control interface is easy to understand and the game's presentation and structure are very good, if unimaginative. However, many elements of the game are somewhat derivative which hurts it's appeal. The large levels, icons and mission structure are very familiar. Whirl Tour is a fun and entertaining action-sports title with some cool ideas, but be warned that it will likely leave you with a strong sense of déjà vu.

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