Review by JPeeples

"Hooray for Haku. Boo everything else."

Never in my worst nightmares could I have imagined a wrestling game as bland and uninspired as this one. Thanks to Anchor for developing it and THQ for releasing it upon the masses, there is now a game that actually comes close to being as bad as Tag Team Wrestling on the NES. Now you’re probably wondering what makes this game so bad, well, aside from the horrid graphics, bland sound, slippery controls, and slower-than-molasses gameplay, there’s nothing wrong with it. I’m not kidding when I tell you the highlight of the game is seeing Haku in a video game, and seeing him (and his giant fro) look nearly perfect.

The first key problem I’m going to harp on about endlessly in this game is the gameplay. First and foremost, there isn’t much actual gameplay to be had. There’s a fractured grappling system that is too convoluted to be effective when you’re actually PLAYING the game. To make matters worse, the striking feature in the game (the kicking, chopping, and punching stuff) isn’t much better. No matter which route of attack you choose, you’ll be “treated” to some of the slowest gameplay ever. I have never seen a game plod along like this, ever. Rattling off moves becomes an exercise in frustration after only a few minutes of play.

Well, there’s a create-a-wrestler mode in the game too, but thanks to Anchor’s laziness, it’s not of much use. The move selection is nice enough, but the appearance stuff is just horrid. WWF No Mercy had better appearance options than this game, and it was about a year and a half old at the time this game was released. Plus, since the game isn’t the least bit enjoyable to play, making CaWs is just an exercise in futility. To it’s credit though, there is one bright spot, an entrance customization option that raises the bar in some fashion for CaW modes. Well, now that that bright spot is out of the way, onto the controls.

Remember in my opening paragraph how I said the controls were slippery? Well, that’s only the half of it. Not only are the controls slippery, they’re needlessly complex to boot, and the complexity doesn’t even yield a result that hasn’t been done before. The complexity doesn’t go towards anything new, it just goes towards making something that should be done easily and without effort into a chore. You want to run? Well, to do that, you either have to double-tap the d-pad in a direction, or use the analog stick. Want to run AND do an attack? Well, get ready for some finger gymnastics because it’ll be a near-to-nigh miracle if you the button press you did for the attack registers by the time your character stops running. I sure hope you don’t want to do anything complex like lift up a weapon, because if you do, get ready to hit two buttons at the same time and the d-pad. Now, if the controls were the least bit responsive in the game, some of these tasks wouldn’t be so difficult, unfortunately, they aren’t responsive at all, and make the game suffer big-time as a result.

Now it’s time to move onto the best part of the game, the graphics. If I handed out scores, these would get around a 4, tops. Three of those four points would be for how well Haku’s afro looks, and how accurate K-Kwik’s hair is. The extra one point would be out of sympathy. I’ll start off by saying that most of the wrestlers in this game have faces on them that don’t resemble them at all. Chris Benoit’s face looks like it should be on Val Venis (currently Chief Morley) and Al Snow’s face doesn’t resemble anyone in wrestling I’ve ever seen, least of which, Al Snow. On the upside, Haku looks fantastic, as his face and body are modeled perfectly, with tons of details. The same goes for the Big Show and a few other folks. Now it’s time to bash the animation. First off, some of the animation looks well-done, but none of it looks better than anything that has been done before. If there’s a move in this game that has been in any other wrestling game, ever, and that’s the case for about 99.9% of the moves, you can bet your bottom dollar it looked better in the game that was made before this one. To make matters worse, the animations are pulled off in the slowest manner possible. While this fit’s the sloth-like gameplay very well, it makes for a very mundane experience for anyone who isn’t hopped up on morphine.

Well, at least the sound in the game is somewhat tolerable. As long as you spend all your time listening to the assortment of wrestler’s themes, you’ll be fine. This can be done by going to the museum mode, which also shows all the weapons you’ve found in the game, hoo-ray. I’m so happy they found time to include THIS, but couldn’t be bothered to make the game itself fun. Anyways, the theme music is fantastic, and unlike every other wrestling game out there, the themes are all full. I guess that’s the ole’ power of “X.” The music used during matches and in menus is some of the most God-awful tripe I’ve ever been subjected to in a game. It’s loud, annoying, generic techno music that serves no purpose other than to enrage the player. Hoo-ray again. Not only is the game a bore to play, and a chore to control, it’s now grating on the ears as well. Hoo-ray for the hat trick.

At the end of the day, WWF Raw is simply atrocious. I dig a couple of things in the game (like full themes and in-depth entrance creation) but those features don’t make up a game. Those features are supposed to compliment a game, not highlight it. Anchor tried to go for a slow-paced approach for gameplay, like the Firepro series does, and failed miserably at it. That being said, the game is worth about $10 due to the few bright spots, and Haku.


Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 04/18/03, Updated 04/18/03


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