Review by samurai_

"A taste of things to come"

I am giving this game a 7 1/2 out of 10. Right now, RAW is the best wrestling game you can own. In comparison to other classic sthough, it shows that it is as not as good as they were in their era. RAW could have been SO much more, and most likely will be come the sequel. Still, it's a must buy-read on and see why.

Graphics-

Raw is a beautiful title. Very few games out now, on any system come close to RAW. In fact, the only game that I can say has better graphics is DOA3. And, that's really saying something. Because the game has such simple settings the developers could really concentrate on the wrestlers visuals themselves. The best way I can describe them is that they look very much like the characters models from the Dreamcast game, UFC-but MUCH, much better. The detail is just wonderful...I had a friend over who passed by and thought I was actually watching a wrestling match.

Not all is good with the graphics though. The arenas are all detailed, but the crowds are 2-D. That's not really bad though, as the crowds look very good overall. The bad graphics come in the creation mode. Created wrestlers can suffer from terrible clothing textures. Take one of my creations for example, Terry Gordy. Everything about the guy is perfect, but his boots are just hideous (I sound like Christopher Lowell). The textures on them are very poor and do not look much better then the N64 games. Of course, the premade wrestlers have perfect looking boots and clothing, and alot of the creation mode clothing is damn fine-but there are extremely poor quality items, and that REALLY takes away from making a great wrestler.

Sound-

Sound is first rate in this game. Every powerbomb makes an impact, every chop makes a brutal sound. Weapons all have unique sounds. The crowd is as good as it needs to be. Of course, all the music is clear and well done. One thing that causes problems though is turning off the menu music. When you turn off the menu music, you turn off ALL music-entrance themes, match music, everything. And, that's a major problem. Some times you want to hear ''this'' but not ''that''. In Raw that's not the case. It's all or nothing, and that makes it lose points.

Gameplay.

RAW feels like an updated No Mercy. It moves faster, and the engine is different because of the groggy moves (moves you can only do when your opponent is dazed), but essentialy the engine is the same. I myself would have preferred that there were no groggy moves, that way I could attempt more moves at more times. I would not be so limited. Still, it is not bad, and much better then what I originally thought. The game also brings in a good deal of strategy with the stamina and voltage meters. You have to pace yourself, and the match. Very few wrestling games offer this type of play, and this is the first time in an American wrestling game where I can recall it. People have compared it to Fire Pro because of the breathing aspect, and while that's a fair comparison I would say Fire Pro is a bit more fine tuned in the stamina and match pacing department. In the end, the engine is extremely solid, and while not as good as No Mercy's, it shows a great deal of promise and is quite fun to use right now. You'll be having some epic matches.

Just so you know, submissions do play a very good part, but there is no limb damage (I had to put that somewhere).

Creation Mode-

The creation mode is a mixed bag. It offers a first in height creation-you can make Giants and Dwarfs-something that has been wanted by wrestling game fans for a long time. There is a fair amount of clothing to choose from, and a good range of masks to choose from. There are many real wrestler masks like TigerMask, The great Sasuke, Ultimo Dragon...and there are many interesting fake masks like Lions, Tigers, and Bears...The game also offers a first with arm tassels (Woohoo!).

Still, that's not enough. Visually, the creation mode is a bit to limited to get a high grade. The Ultimate Warriors facepaint is in, but not perfect, Vaders mask is nowhere to found, and Hayabusa's mask is incorrect. There are also to few choices for boots. You've got Dynamites kids trunks, but not his boots. And, like I said before-the boots are pretty bad.

You can change dimensions of your wrestler in a variety of ways, and you can make a very fat wrestler. But, I think they should have included body types as changing all the dimensions is very boring and easy to make a mistake. Also, sometimes changing the dimensions does not give you the desired effect (I have a fat wrestler made, but he does not look ''right'').

The worst visual part of the creation mode is the face department. You have only 16 to choose from, and out of those only 1 that looks slightly Asian. So, great Japanese wrestlers are hard to make decently. Worse, there is only 3 types of facial hair. That means NO Dr.Death, No Macho Man, No Cactus Jack!!! Words do not describe the anguish I feel.

Do not get me wrong though, the creation mode is a good one. I have made NEAR perfect versions of the Dynamite Kid, Ultimate Warrior and Terry Gordy. Versions that can not be equaled by any wrestling game out there. Plus, for the oddballs you can create freaks the likes of which have never been seen before.

The worst part of RAW is the moveset department, this is the main reason why my score is what it is. It's best to look at the moveset in the creation mode in two parts. Part 1-the strikes. Never has there been so many good and interesting strikes in a wrestling game before. Your jaw will drop when you see how many punches and martial arts moves are in the game. It's clear the developers took alot of the strikes from their UFC franchise, and also brought in a whopping amount of martial art, boxing, and fantasy moves. There's also a great deal of weak grapple striking moves that are SO well done, you'll smile every time you see them. Part 2-the heavy grapple moves. VERY, very weak. No Half Nelson Suplex, no Karelin lift, No reverse powerbomb, no dangerous Back drop, No praying powerbomb, spinning falcon arrow, tiger driver 91 and sit out version, orange crush, black crush, yadda yadda yadda. The list goes on. Basically, the game has every move the WWF guys do, and a scant few more. You won't be recreating any All Japan guys really well.

Extras-

Very bare bones match types. Just the basics. A very cool feature is the item finding. You play a match, and find items all around the ring (177 alltogether). There are things like Mankinds mask (Not that it matters-theres none of his moves in the creation mode), barb wire bats, and extremely odd things like silverware...it's pretty fun to crack open a box and find something new

Conclusion-

In the end it's clear RAW is a very rushed product. You'll notice all of the stuff needed to make Jinsei Shinzaki/Hakushi (all face and body paint!), but you won't find a single one of his trademark moves aside from his throat thrusts. This is the case for alot of wrestlers. Kawadas tights are in the game (As are Kobashis new ones), but none of their moves are. The same with Tigermask, and Dragon Kid. It's clear the developers planned to put alot of moves in this game, but just didn't have the time to. For a hard core wrestling game fan like myself, that's pretty hard to deal with. I mean, I don't give a seconds thought to not having many match types or a boring story mode, but not having moves of my favorite puro and classic wrestlers is really painful. It really kills the longevity of the game, and it's clear that if the game had a few more months of production the creation mode would be SO much stronger and easily the best ever.

Still, the game is amazingly fun. I spent the good portion of an entire day fine tuning my Terry Gordy creation. And when I unleashed him on the WWF guys it was just fun as hell. Epic fights, slaughters...it was the most fun I have had with a wrestling title. The game is a must buy if you like wrestling games, and a great game for any X-Box owner to have. I can't wait to test it out in mulitplayer witha few friends. RAW also gives you a great feeling about things to come. When the next sequel comes out, I think it's a pretty safe bet that the game will have a great deal of those missing Puro moves, and of course new match types. But for now, your left with a game that just makes it to the ''completed'' status.

Overall-7 1/2 out of 10.


Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 02/14/02, Updated 02/14/02


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