V.I.P. (PlayStation) review
"Remember when people insisted in telling Pamela Anderson to do things? Like the movie Barb Wire or, more importantly for the sake of our study, the TV series VIP. This series, which amazingly lasted four full seasons, featured Pamela as the comically incompetent boss of an otherwise professional bodyguard agency. Well, somewhere along the line someone coerced Ubisoft into making a game for the PlayStation based on this series. "
Remember when people insisted in telling Pamela Anderson to do things? Like the movie Barb Wire or, more importantly for the sake of our study, the TV series VIP. This series, which amazingly lasted four full seasons, featured Pamela as the comically incompetent boss of an otherwise professional bodyguard agency. Well, somewhere along the line someone coerced Ubisoft into making a game for the PlayStation based on this series.
The result, I’m sorry to say, is an utterly abysmal videogame disaster that I actually encourage you to play, because somehow it manages to be an extremely hilarious disaster. I never particularly enjoyed trudging through the game, but it made me laugh out loud on several occassions!
One may as well begin with the game’s structure. Basically, VIP is broken down in levels and each one is itself broken down in two types of mission: fighting ones, and shooting ones. These last missions have you moving crosshairs across the screen in order to shoot endless waves of anonymous men in black. It’s worth noting that this game has some sort of primitive hit detection, as a shot to the head makes more damage than one to the ankle. I know this wasn’t exactly innovative by 2001, but it still surprised me to encounter this feature in this game.
The thing about fighting missions, you see, is that they don’t involve fighting. Your character runs up to a bad guy, and you’re prompted to push a chain of buttons as seen on the screen in a DDR kind of way. Once you push “Up, Circle, Triangle” correctly, your character kicks the bad guy in the shin. Then you push “Down, X, X, X” and your character does a roundhouse kick. The bad guy ‘dies’ and is replaced by another one. And another one. And another one.
You might have perceived by now that playing VIP is not exactly the most thrilling experience ever. It is not, for example, more exciting (or more difficult, or more entertaining) than walking without falling over or breathing without choking to death. If you managed to put the disc into your PSX or PS2 without setting your house on fire, then I think it’s safe to assume that you will have no trouble whatsoever playing it successfully.
That’s because VIP is unbelievably easy. Apart from having a gameplay that is simple in and of itself, the game goes one step further and effectively prostitutes itself in order to please you. For example, you get an increasing amount of points for chaining your attacks, which only means managing to pull them off consecutively without failing. Since the button commands are never very complicated, if there are 50 different command prompts in one mission it is not at all unlikely to get 48 right even without really trying. Furthermore, the combo count goes up not with your hits, but with your character’s. That is to say, if you input two commands correctly, and the first attack is three quick punches and the second two kicks, then you’ve done a five-hit combo. The shooting missions behave similarly, in that you can shoot wildly and your accuracy won’t matter as long as you land hits in a reasonably quick pace.
What happens with all this is that by the time you finish the first mission you’ve scored so many points that you could already buy all the extras with them, if they weren’t progress-locked. These extras are, by the way, another sign of the game eagerly wanting to please you. Firstly, you have the pre-rendered CGI cutscenes of the game, so you can enjoy poorly animated characters delivering dull lines over and over again! What else could you possibly want? Well, you also have a varied set of amusingly softcore real-life pictures of Pam and her friends posing in different states of undress. I think given how easy the game is the pictures should have followed suite and ditched clothing entirely (it’s not like there’s any class or dignity to ruin), but I suppose someone thought that would hurt sales. Even more, I mean.
As I said, the cutscenes are no prize, but the pictures are a comfort of sorts to the blocky and pixelated graphics found in-game. There is surely a technical feat to be found in extorting so many polygons out of the PSX to form Pammy’s thoracic area, but otherwise VIP’s visuals are deeply unimpressive. The characters are blocky and undetailed, whereas the pre-rendered 2D backgrounds look marginally better but not nearly better enough. I thought pre-rendered backgrounds were meant to improve the visual level, but hey.
Lastly, the music is of the cheap nondescript kind. You know, the kind that seems to have been made by one lonely guy sitting in front of an ancient sound-machine-thingie in a basement somewhere. Possibly the same basement in which the actors, or the random passers-by who were kidnapped to do the voiceovers, record their uninspired and mostly inaudible lines.
So in general, as you can tell, the entire game is an entertainment debacle that offers two hours (seriously! You can finish it in exactly two hours, continues included) of absolutely nothing. Why then, I ask myself, am I incapable of hating VIP? It’s like a cute tiger puppy: I can’t imagine one single good thing about owning one of those meat-devouring monsters, but they’re just so cute and funny. Like watching this game trying to add a few minigames into the mix, or giving you supposedly hot pictures in exchange of beating two enemies, or having a tense sniper duel between Tasha and a priest (?) immediately followed by Pamela throwing liquor bottles around. Or like the cutscene in which four of the main characters have panic attacks over a bomb that is underneath a flimsy table that could be easily tossed out of the window. It might be bad beyond anything you can imagine, but comically so. There is no fun in actually playing VIP, but there are plenty of reasons to laugh at it, honestly and cheerfully. You can’t miss this!
Community review by MartinG (August 28, 2007)
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