STAFF REVIEW of Tom and Jerry: War of the Whiskers (Xbox)

Sunday, January 25, 2004.
by Scapegoats

Tom and Jerry: War of the Whiskers Box art Who would have thought that a Tom and Jerry cartoon would turn into a wacky fighting game? Okay, I did. But it is actually pretty cool.

You get to play as Tom or Jerry, and as you play, you unlock seven other characters, including Spike and Tyke, Nibbles and Butch, and my personal favorite, Duckling. You have over a dozen levels to play in, and a few different game modes.

A cartoony game such as this one can only be aimed at one thing - multiplayer goodness, fun for the whole family. And that is where this game succeeds. There is no blood or gore, and it is obviously fake, so even though the game is rated T for Teen, I'd still have no issues sitting there playing a few rounds with my younger siblings.

You may not want to run out and buy this game, but if you're planning a weekend of fun, and Shrek Super Party has worn out it's welcome, go check this one out of your local rental shop.

Tom, Jerry, and friends fight through a bunch of different destructible environments, each with their own pitfalls and platforms. For instance, if you're duking it out in the kitchen, the sink will overflow, and water will go all over the floor. Now, the refrigerator will open and freeze the water. If you're standing in it, you'll be frozen there as well, leaving you out in the open for a short time, allowing your enemies to take advantage of your situation. If you're on the beach level when the tide comes in, you might be attacked by a shark! The levels are well done and various, and take away from the monotonous gameplay that we have come to expect from the fighting game genre.

The controls are pretty good as well. You can do all the de facto standards for fighting games such as jump, kick, punch, and block, as well, you have the ability to pick up items and weapons to use against your opponents. In fact, there are over seventy-five different implements of destruction for you to use and abuse. Aside from this, the moves are pretty limited.

You can boost up your berserk meter by damaging or taunting the other players, and once your berserk bar is full, you can activate it to do double damage to your opponents, and this lasts as long as the bar drains. But be careful while taunting, as you are left vulnerable to attacks.

You can play up to four players at once, making this game ideal for parties. There are various game modes, such as tournament, tag team, versus, and team play. There is no network or online play, but that's alright because it wouldn't be nearly as fun as playing it with three other people sitting on your couch playing against each other.

Unfortunately, this is where the fun factor wears thin. Playing this game in single-player mode isn't nearly as rewarding an experience. Sure, you can unlock secret characters and face boss characters, but in the end, it's just not enjoyable. It's like going to the movie theater alone, or singing without a band... If you have no friends, this game may not be for you.

Visually, this game is alright. It's animated, yet 3D, so it looks like a cartoon. Quite fitting really, since a realistic mouse and cat fighting just doesn't seem like a very entertaining game to play.

The levels have a lot of things going on in them, and lots of little details were put in. The effects used for berserk mode and such are good as well. The shadows work well too, and nothing is overused or underused, so it all feels quite good for a game of this style.

Although I would like to see more cel-shaded games, this is one of those that is still pretty cool even without it. I honestly don't know if this game would have looked as good had it not been standard 3D animation. It would likely have caused a loss in visual detail, which is one of the only factors that this game is relying on to set it apart from all the others in its genre.

The only downfall in the visual department is when you end a round, and the characters are shown sulking or gloating. These animations have little to no variation whatsoever, and can get annoying extremely fast. But I guess during these few seconds, you can be poking fun at your friends that you have just conquered, which will take your mind off of the repetitive motions.

The sounds for Tom and Jerry are rendered in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround sound. This is pretty cool, but for a fighting game where the camera is pretty much fixed, and the user has no control over it, it's not going to add much to the experience.

The music is decent, and the announcer voice sounds akin to that of the cartoon announcer from The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show, adding that extra touch.

The sounds that are emitted from the characters can get repetitive though, and the same with some of the sound effects. More variation in the types of yelps and taunts would have gone far in helping break the annoyance factor inherent in this sort of game.

Overall, it's not a bad little game, especially when playing multiplayer, but it's best in small doses.

As I said earlier, more variation in the sound effects, as well as perhaps some other modes with more unique features that break some of the boredom of single-player mode, and you'd be all set. I'd love a hybrid platform/fighting game with these characters, where you could have a quest mode of sorts, perhaps trying to survive traveling between one fight and another, maybe collecting different fighting moves, taunts and so forth.

Overall: 6.6 / 10
Gameplay: 6.8 / 10
Visuals: 7.2 / 10
Sound: 5.6 / 10


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