As previously announced, Pistol Whip 2089 is a free story-driven campaign for one of our favourite musical shooters, and it’s releasing tomorrow, December 1st!
This is the trailer, and below that, you’ll find Doc’s spoiler-free review!
Doc’s Pistol Whip 2089 DLC Review
I was pretty cynical about Pistol Whip 2089. What’s new there, Doc? You’re always cynical. Yes, yes, I know, but even though I hate nearly everything, I love Pistol Whip. (Check out our video review here). The steady drip of new songs and content has been admirable, and it remains one of those must-have titles for the Quest. When Cloudhead Games announced they were making a story-based DLC campaign for the game, my heart sank a little. I had no doubt that, like the original, it would be slick and well-presented. Still, to me, the idea of putting dialogue and plot in Pistol Whip just sounded ill-advised, like growing a human ear on the back of a mouse or getting Zack Snyder to do a cut of The Remains of the Day featuring motorbike chases and exploding oil rigs. i.e. Both pointless, and missing the point by several light-years.
To me, the real joy of Pistol Whip’s art direction was how unfettered it was by plot and setting. It was free to riff on the stylised, action movie vignette idea posited by Superhot. It gave us levels that seemed like half-remembered dreamlike scenes from familiar films of varying genres and styles; a breathtaking run through many varied and beautifully-realised situations, that could never be housed in a single narrative. Its lack of story, basically, was its strength.
And now we have Pistol Whip 2089, a DLC campaign with a setting which is so cheekily referential to the Terminator universe that it really only is a step away from featuring actual 3D models of the Cyberdyne robots wearing fake moustaches. The player assumes the role of a grizzled resistance fighter, probably called something like Ryle Keese or Kohn Jonnor. You have to shoot robots. If you shoot them to the beat of the music, you score more points. It’s not a complex proposition.
Although the idea should be terrible, in practice it’s fantastic. It really works. Providing a light narrative structure enables the levels to play about with some of the conventions of the core Pistol Whip gameplay in surprising and challenging ways. The game wants you to be relatively proficient and familiar with it already before you dive into this campaign, and that is essential. New players will be a little bit confounded by Pistol Whip 2089, I think, and to savour its charms properly then a working knowledge of the base game is a minimum entry requirement.
There’s no way I’m going to spoil anything for you, so I’m going to keep this short. If you love Pistol Whip, you’ll love this. The gameplay is very challenging and incredibly stylish. It throws up some neat surprises, too, both in how it plays and what it references. Suffice to say that The Terminator is not the only cherished 80s sci-fi action movie that it, er, homages, to great effect. The music is superb. It’s the kind of dark electronica that serves Pistol Whip so well, and it’s all thematically appropriate. It’s woven into the action so joyfully that you can’t help but be swept along. The cutscenes are short and to the point, telling the slight tale well, and the acting is mercifully on point too. You’ll probably skip the story bits on each subsequent playthrough, but it’s all fine, and there’s nothing in here that breaks the Pistol Whip spell as I feared.
Pistol Whip 2089 is an idea that shouldn’t work but does. It’s an inventive and immersive twist to the Pistol Whip formula designed to thrill the faithful, and it does that in fine style – all for the majestic price of free.