Review by Psycho Penguin

"It's not as bad as I thought it would be.."

Well, like I said in the synopsis, this game is not as bad as I expected it to be. I expected a really horrible effort from the folks at EA Sports. After all, they have never really been known to make good, solid wrestling games. And the idea for this game seemed lackluster, at best. Basically, it would be like Mayhem, with the scenes in the backstage area. For those of you that have played Mayhem, you will know about the backstage areas. Well, the geniuses at EA Sports decided to make these backstage scenes, and turn them into a whole game.

WCW: Backstage Assault was the result. Basically, this game was to be played backstage. There is no ring, just backstage areas ranging from locker rooms to VIP rooms. It is a pretty novel idea, but I do not like this whole concept of ''no ring''. After all, wrestling games have always been based in the ring. Sure, if EA was going to make this game in the ring, it would probably end up way too much like Mayhem. So, of course, they had to make the game somewhat innovative.

And do not get me wrong, I am all for the innovative concepts that game developers put into their games. But I have to draw the line somewhere. And I am drawing the line here. Yeah, this game is innovative. But it is innovative in a bad way. I did not like the whole concept of wrestling in backstage areas the entire game. The best part of WCW Mayhem was the fact the backstage areas were a bonus, not a necessity. Yeah, you could wrestle backstage, and it was fun to set up a 2 on 1 attack backstage on Hulk Hogan, but you could still wrestle in this game. No such feature in this game.

Regardless, I still liked this game somewhat. The control was pretty solid. The moves were easy enough to pull off, although most of the game was built around your ability to grab weapons and use them to harm your opponent, more than your ability to pull off solid wrestling moves. However, if you did pull off moves, they were easy enough, despite the lag time. Most of them require you to just tap a couple of buttons. The game uses the same grappling system as featured in WCW Mayhem, but for some reason it seemed better in Mayhem than it does in this game. I think it is because sometimes when you do a move, it will take a second or two for it to register. Sometimes it does not even register. It gets pretty annoying after a while. If you can get over the lag time, the control is okay.

The game itself was pretty fun to play, once you can get over the fact that there is really nothing realistic about this game. You wrestle in backstage areas, using weapons and other apparatus found backstage. Some of the items found in the backstage areas can actually act as ring objects, which makes the game interesting. Bouncing opponents off various items can turn out to be great fun, trust me. I also liked how the backstage areas were set up, as they are very large and descriptive. Lots of little details are included.

There are a lot of modes to choose from in this game. There is an Exhibition mode, which basically allows you to choose a wrestler and go up against another wrestler in a backstage area of your choosing (provided you have unlocked that backstage area first, of course). Then there is the Hardcore Challenge, which basically has you run a series of matches, you can choose one of three belts to wrestle for in this mod (US, World, and Hardcore). Then there is the Hardcore Gauntlet mode, which is tough because you have to run a gauntlet of matches, and your damage will carry over from one match to the next. Finally, there is the Create a Wrestler mode, which should be self explanatory.

The Create a Wrestler mode in the game is extremely crappy and represents the low point of the entire game play. You could change the outfits on the various characters if you wanted, just like WCW/nWo Revenge for the Nintendo 64, which is a pretty good idea on paper, but the rest of the Create a Wrestler mode is crappy. You only get eight spaces to modify your wrestler. You can modify your wrestler to a certain extent, but after a while you will get annoyed because your wrestler can not be modified as much as you expected to. I did not like the Create a Wrestler mode much at all.

The thing I liked most about this game was the variety of wrestlers it provided. OK, so maybe I am just really happy that Vince Russo is in it. But in terms of WCW games, this one definitely has the best roster. From Scott Steiner to Chavo Guerrero Jr., all of the top WCW superstars are featured in this game. And yes, Hulk Hogan is in it, so you can continue to organize two on one backstage attacks against him. That was the best part of WCW Mayhem, by far, so I am glad to see it can still happen in this game.

I really did not like the graphics in the game too much, at all. The biggest problem I had with the graphics was the collision detection. For those of you that have read my WWF Attitude review, you will know I am a fan of collision detection in wrestling games, and I hate it when they screw up the collision detection. Well, god bless EA Sports, because they happened to do that, which ticks me off. The animation is also crappy, as I swear punches will go right through your opponent. Like if I was Corporal Cajun, I would do a scissors kick on my opponent, but the kick would actually go through the opponent, and I would basically go right through him. Huh?

The character models in the game are also terrible. The Misfits in Action look bad enough on television, but they look even worse here. Some of them look like big red elves. Hulk Hogan looks like a pumpkin. Bill Goldberg looks like a freshly sharpened pencil, not unlike Stone Cold Steve Austin in Wrestlemania 2000. However, I did like the backgrounds of the backstage areas a lot. I like how you can mix the backgrounds in with the weapons found around, like once I got a 4 by 4, set it on fire, and threw it at a table, and the table caught on fire. That was pretty neat, and it represents about the only thing I actually like about the graphics in an otherwise graphical mess.

The music and sound effects in the game are definitely a mixed bag. I did not like the music in the game much at all, besides the wrestler's theme songs. They were pretty clear and sounded great, but the problem is they were far too short. They used Sting's old theme, by the way, I guess this was to avoid a lawsuit with Metallica (Metallica and lawsuits go together like Tony Schiavone and dog crap). The sound effects were decent enough. I liked the commentary a lot, as it was actually better than the commentary featured on WCW television every week, if you can believe that. However, EA Sports and Kodiak decided to use a lot of the commentary from WCW Mayhem for this game. Not the end of the world, though, because the commentary is pretty solid.

The replay value in this game is a mixed bag. On one hand, there is a lot of stuff to unlock, and if you choose to unlock it all, it will definitely keep you busy. On the other hand, you will probably have very little motivation to actually unlock it all. You can unlock everything from secret characters to extra backstage areas, and if you are a game completist like me you will probably want to get all of these secret characters and extra backstage areas. However, there is really no incentive to getting some of the secret characters, as you can make them in the Create a Wrestler mode, and they pretty much suck either way.

This game is pretty challenging, especially the Hardcore Gauntlet mode, which is insane. You basically have to run a series of matches in a gauntlet against some tough opponents. They will try to annihilate you, and once you have finally defeated him or her, you will automatically fight another fight, while having the same amount of energy. Therefore, the challenge level of this mode is insane. I used to get to the third or fourth fight in this mode and lose. Oh yeah, do not face Bill Goldberg in this game until you are a master. Or if you think you are ready to face him. Since he is so unstoppable in the television shows, Kodiak and EA Sports decided to make him be unstoppable in this game. So, he is really quite tough.

Overall, I was impressed with WCW: Backstage Assault for the most part. It was not the crappy game I expected. It was actually above average. The graphics and control are about the only two areas of the game that actually needed work. And I did not miss the ring element nearly as much as I expected to. I guess I was having too much fun swinging barb wire fences sent on fire around to worry about having to fight in a ring. I would like to point out that the control suffers from some severe lag time, and the collision detection does not help at all, so be prepared to have a lot of your moves look like complete crap. Otherwise, this was a fairly solid game that is worth at least a rental.

Good Points
-Vince Russo, my hero, is a character in the game.
-You can kick the stuffing out of Hulk Hogan.
-Bill Goldberg looks like a total reject.
-The game is actually pretty fun.
-The music and sound effects are solid.

Not So Good Points
-The Misfits in Action are in the game, they should be their normal charcaters.
-The control in the game is pretty crappy.
-The character models and designs could have been much better.
-The collision detection in the game was awful.
-The create a wrestler mode could have been better.

I Run Down the Ratings.. DaLadiesMan Style!
Story Line - Not Available
Graphics - 4.3/10
Music - 8.1/10
Sound Effects - 7.9/10
Control - 2.2/10
Game Play - 7.1/10
Replay Value - Average
Challenge - Above Average (Mike Sanders)
Is this game worth a purchase? - Rent first.
Overall - 6.8/10

The Last Line
I expected this game to be extremely crappy, but it turned out to be fairly solid. Sure, the game has some problems, like poor collision detection and character models, but overall I liked this game to a certain extent. It is worth a purchase, but I advise you rent it first, because it had some problems.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 01/29/01, Updated 07/16/01


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