Review by Gruel

"This game is that damn good.....to poop on!"

The Game

WWF RAW is the first wrestling game on the X-Box. It was also the last console game to carry the ''WWF'' banner. Just a few weeks ago, WWF changed to WWE. It was very hyped, and highly anticipated from RAW's publishers at THQ. Hype and anticipation grew with the several delays brought upon RAW. Did all the delays for the game pay off? Let's get onto the review and find out.

The Roster

Well over 45 wrestlers are featured in the game. With the rosters being fairly accurate as of early 2001. Most of the big names and in here like Triple H, The Undertaker, ''Stone Cold'' Steve Austin, and The Rock. There's also a bunch of our favorite mid card wrestlers like Christian, Billy Gunn, The Dudley Boyz, and Funaki. Then there's also a certain amount of people that haven't been on WWF Television for nearly a year. Some of those wrestlers are Steve Blackman, Taka Michinoku, and Haku. Also none of the wrestlers that the WWF acquired from WCW are in here. So that means you won't get some noticeable stars like Diamond Dallas Page, Hurricane, Shawn Stasiak, and Booker T.

Graphics

This is RAW's strong point. If you thought the graphics from the PS2 version of Smackdown were good, then think again. RAW's visuals just blow them away. The character models are the best I've seen in any wrestling game out there. Just compare the game's models of Undertaker, Steve Austin, and almost anyone else. Everything is exactly the same as it is on television, from the boots, to the tatoos. The game has the exact same opening intro as the old RAW show did, complete with a huge fireworks display. The game has a solid presentation. I love the vs. screen designs while matches load. The game also showcases the best instant replay feature I've ever seen. They don't occur after every move like in No Mercy and Wrestlemania 2000 for Nintendo 64. In here, they only occur after finishing moves (The Pedigree, Last Ride, etc.). The entrances are also well done. Wrestlers walk out to the ring in this game as they do on television. Triple H spits out the water, Kurt Angle points up while his pyro goes off, Undertaker comes down on his motorcycle, and so on. The entrances are complete with movies, and other special effects like flashing lights, pyro technics, and fog.

The game matches progress at a normal pace. Not like the insanely fast rate like in Smackdown: Just Bring It, for PS2, but more like the N64 wrestling games like Revenge and No Mercy. I don't notice much, if any, flickering or slowdown during matches either. RAW's menu system have more of a DVD feel to them, with actual footage of wrestlers on one side, while your choices of play appear on the other. RAW's loading times aren't that long, but aren't the shortest either. Most match loading times are between five and ten seconds long. But to compensate for them, we are treated to those great vs. match up screens. They show both computer animated wrestlers doing their trademark pose. If the graphics in the game have any faults, it's that some of the faces on the wrestlers look nothing like the actual counterparts. Take a good look at Triple H's face as he walks out during his entrance and you'll know what I mean.

Sound

All the wrestlers have their own trademark music they walk out too during their entrances. Like Vince McMahon comes out to ''No Chance in Hell'' and Christian has his Bohemian Rhapsody rip off theme in here too. And like Just Bring It, for PS2, RAW has licensed music as well. That means we get to hear songs that actual bands do like ''Time to Play the Game'' by Motorhead, and ''Rollin''' by Limp Bizkit. When you create a wrestler, you can choose a theme for him to come out too. All the themes the wrestlers come out to are available. There are also some older themes by Christian, Undertaker, Taka Michinoku, and The Rock at our disposal as well. If you don't like those, the game includes background music for game play and menus in here as well. They are mostly just generic guitar riffs that dominate most wrestling games.

The game originally promised to make use of the X-Box feature where you can add your own ripped music to the game. The developers boasted about having your own created wrestlers come out to your own music. But the developers at Anchor took it out for some strange reason. I would have loved having my own created wrestler coming out to some of my favorite songs, and I am very disappointed they took it out. The rest of the sound is decent. All the sound effects like the punches, stomps, and slams on the mat sound as you expect them to. There is no commentary in the game, and I'm not complaining after witnessing Just Bring It's horrendous play-by-play. It just seems no developer can get commentary done right since WCW Backstage Assault came out in late 2000.

Game play

The game has a fair control set up. Walk around with the control pad or left analog stick. Change your focus with the triggers. Strike with the X button, and perform grapples with the A button. A and X do moves out of grapples. The B button pins, while X and A does various attacks on prone opponents. I'm not going too in depth about the controls, because the game includes a great tutorial video on RAW's control scheme. And like most other wrestling games, if you don't like the default control scheme, you can always customize it to your liking. But the game engine runs a bit iffy. Everything seems fine until wrestlers react unrealistically to certain moves. Take kick outs, for example. I once was in a close contest against the computer, when they kicked out of my pin attempt. Usually both wrestlers get up right away when this happens, but in the game my wrestler just laid on the mat, while my opponent got up before me, and pinned me for the win. Now that just doesn't happen on television. Even Vince Russo wouldn't be that stupid to book a finish like that.

RAW has a decent amount of game play modes available to us. There is a neat Museum mode where you can read up on biographies of all the WWF superstars in the game, and watch their entrance movies. We have the standard one-on-one singles match up. There are also other common modes like tag team, and triple threat. Besides tag team, there are two other four player modes. They are fatal four way and battle royal. The only difference between the two is that in battle royal, you need to pin all the opposing wrestlers. Where as in fatal four way the rules are whoever gets the pin first, wins. You can add modifiers to these match types like turning the interference, rope break, DQ, and hardcore rules on or off. There is also the King of the Ring tournament mode, which is just a playoff-type elimination tournament that consists of either single or tag team matches. Besides the main Title Match mode (which I'll move onto in a bit), these are all the game modes available to us. Where are the gimmick matches? I don't see any of the famous ones such as Ladder, Cage, and Guest Referee in here. Where is the ever popular, Royal Rumble mode? If you ask me, sounds like the developers were purposely holding back on some modes so they have something to brag about that's included in the expected sequel.

The game's main mode is the Title Match option. Recent wrestling titles had more of an interactive based single player game which involved a lot of storylines. Though Anchor seems to have took the more traditional approach. All you do is pick a title, then beat several wrestlers, with each getting higher in difficulty. That's it, once you beat the final wrestler, you unlock some hidden items or characters. It's been a few years since wrestling games had a main single player mode like this. Us wrestling fans prefer the new standard involving a lot of storylines and interactions on our part. It just makes the game more fun. And the main single player mode isn't the only thing that is dry.

Just like great single player modes, we expect most of the latest wrestling games to come with a complete create-a-wrestler mode. And this game has one, but the amount you can customize isn't so great. You can customize all the basic stuff like body sizes, costumes, designs, etc. But there isn't much here under the surface. For example, you only have three colors of skin available, and three designs of facial hair for the pickings. Games like Just Bring It and No Mercy had dozens of designs in both of the mentioned categories at your disposal. And the limited amount here means we are limited in making our favorite creations. You can't edit facial features like a character's nose, lips, or eyes. And you don't have the option of adding text to your wrestler's outfit. Other creation modes like Create-a-PPV, and Create-a-Stable were starting to be included in a lot of the latest WWF games, but they are no where to be found in here.

Replay Value

The game has loads of hidden weapons, and four hidden characters to unlock. You unlock them whenever you run across a new item in a match, or win a particular title. So you'll probably be attempting to complete the Title Matches a few times to unlock everything. And even though the Create-a-Wrestler is on the bare side, I did manage to churn out a few decent creations. I'm sure you can manage to do so as well. And up to four players can play in tag team, fatal four way, and battle royal modes. A lot more modes of play would've been appreciated.

In Brief

+: Solid presentation, great graphics, ''How to Play'' video does a great job at explaining the controls

-: With only six game play modes, and a dry Create-a-Wrestler option, you get a feeling the developers left a lot of extras out on purpose for the expected sequel

The Final Ratings Rundown

Graphics: 9.0
Sound: 8.5
Game play: 3.2
Replay Value: 4.5

Overall: 6.3

Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 6

Comments

This game is a decent package all together. However, there are just too many problems here for me to recommend a purchase. The game engine has a few kinks to work out in it. And there is a huge lack of modes that just can't go without notice. And the bare Create-a-Wrestler is not appreciated. If you have to get a wrestling game right now, I'd recommend to get Wrestlemania X8 for Gamecube, or Smackdown: Just Bring It, for PS2. But if all you got is just an X-Box, just rent this one.


Reviewer's Score: 6/10 | Originally Posted: 05/27/02, Updated 05/27/02


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