Review by CyhortI82
"TNA Impact: A shell of a game that crosses no lines."
Like most people who heard the early hype of the first TNA game I was hopeful. It promised to revolutionize wrestling games, it promised to be better than Smackdown vs Raw, it promised greatness. But in the end TNA Impact the game turned out much like TNA Impact the show. All the potential in the world is there yet in execution it's one huge clusterhump that is extremely hard for most people to enjoy. I truly expected more, especially from a game that boasted that it received help from the actual wrestlers in making the game. But, also like TNA, there are a few, very few, enjoyable things about the game.
The story reminds me of the plot of the movie Ready to Rumble. Wrestling, which anyone over the age of 10 knows to be fake or scripted, is real competition. Matches are won and lost based on skill and not backstage booking. Which by itself is fine, this is a wrestling game not a booking simulation like EWR. But then they add the bane of all good storytelling, the amnesia story. You see when you start the game you are Suicide, one of the greatest wrestlers TNA has ever seen. Your finisher is feared by all. You win match after match until TNA is forced to grant you a title shot. Shortly before your match LAX comes up to you and tells you that you're going to take a dive and lose the title match. (why a tag team would care who wins a world title match is never really explained) You agree and they walk away. Then you tell yourself that you'll never lose on purpose. Sure enough you win and sure enough you get jumped backstage by LAX and get beaten to within an inch of your life. (Keep in mind that this is all being narrated by the protagonist, you, who is supposed to have lost his memory)
You wake up several days later in a run down hospital in Mexico, your face is ruined and you are lucky to be alive. Two doctors that look like they spend more time curing their own hangovers than other people for some reason agree to give you plastic surgery for free. This is when you create your character. Original way to introduce it, but not very well done. I'll get into the CAW mode later on. After you finish "reconstructing" yourself you find out that you have a need to fight, which leads you back to wrestling. Now, the hype said that you have to work your way up through the indy ranks before you get a shot at the "big leagues" TNA. (another way the game diverges from reality, apparently TNA is the biggest wrestling company in the world and all wrestling rings follow it's six sided model) Now to me this means going through an indy fed or two, winning the title there and being scouted by TNA. In reality it means winning 3 matches in Mexico against nobodies, 3 matches in the United States (in an army base no less) against nobodies and then one match against James Storm, a TNA wrestler who is apparently out scouting talent. Why a wrestler would also double as a talent scout is also unexplained.
Now, that's pretty much all of the plot I can give away but you can probably guess the rest from there. It's the same "I got beat up and lost my memory now I need to find out who I am" story that's been done a thousand times.Now, where the story mode truly fails is that you NEED to win EVERY match to continue the story. A plot device that always fails in wrestling games. Day of Reckoning tried it and it ruined an otherwise great story. TNA did it and it made a decent at best story terrible.
Story Rating: 2/10
The gameplay is probably the biggest failure of TNA Impact. It is pretty original. It's not the Mortal Kombat like entering of button sequences that WWF Warzone had nor is it the more familiar SvR controls. Instead it's a cross of the two. And it managed to incorporate the worst aspects of both. A lot of people seem to like the gameplay, however I hate it. It seems to be based on that I call the Megaman Principle which basically says a game isn't good unless you have to do the same part over at least 3 times. You have basically four moves, with some airial moves that you'll never get a chance to use because your opponents never stay down and oh, did I mention that EVERYTHING is reverseable. Not by you, but by the CPU. You have the ABILITY to reverse everything but it's random as to whether or not you do. You press one button to reverse everything and as far as I can tell there is no proper place to press the button like the SvR games. You just mash the Right Bumper and hope you reverse things.
The thing I hate the most however is the thumbstick. Whenever you get hit with enough moves you get stunned, and to get out of it you need to violently wrench the thumbstick back and forth for about 10 seconds. The CPU also has to do this, but it takes them about 2-5 seconds. And if you get pinned? You have to move the thumbstick again. Except this time there is pretty much no way to get out of it. If you go too slow you get pinned, go too fast and the game doesn't register that you're moving the stick at all.
It is amusing at times though. If you run past the metal stairs (yes, past not into because there is apparently an invisible sphere of metal that surrounds the visible steps) you go flying face first into the ground. Funny, but annoying when you're trying to get away from someone. The only good part is more often than not the person chasing you trips and falls right next to you.
Gameplay Rating: 1/10
Create a Wrestler
The second biggest failure in the game. Think of the great customization of Fire Pro and Smackdown vs Raw. Now picture the opposite of that and you get TNA Impact's CAW feature. Everything you can select is on a preset slider. No changing the X or Y axis, no changing parts of the body, no wacky colors, no detail. You choose an option, a color, and MAYBE a pattern. But you only get about 7 patterns and most of them aren't any good. There are some decent clothing and hair options but really an updated version of No Mercy would have more in depth customization.
But surely you get to create your own moveset right? Of course you do. After you unlock the moves by playing story mode. Otherwise you're stuck with the default moveset. What is the default moveset? You have to play the game to find out because all the move options have 3 locked options and "DEFAULT". Yep, it doesn't even tell you what moves it's forcing you to use. It just tells you what you can't use.
Create a Wrestler Rating: 2/10
Finally something I can praise. The graphics are pretty good. The wrestler models are fairly realistic, the clothing looks real and not painted on and the arenas are very nicely rendered. There are of course problems though. The hair is one block of hair, no movement. There is some glitching but that is really more of a gameplay problem than a graphic problem. All in all the graphics are the best thing about the game.
Graphics Rating: 8/10
So have you noticed how generic TNA entrance music sounds? Then you won't be surprised at the music in this game. It's basically the same. In fact most of the music in the game IS the TNA entrance music. There really isn't much originality in the soundtrack, if any. Now the crowd noises, chair hits and other non musical sounds are done well but that won't bring the rating up that much. Almost all wrestling games get those right so it's not really that impressive.
Sound Rating: 3/10
With it's bad CAW system, generic and bland story, frustrating gameplay and overall amateurish feel this game is most definitely a rental at best. It is one of the biggest video game letdowns in years and I feel sorry for anyone that paid full price for it. But this is of course just an opinion. Some people seem to enjoy it so if you're thinking about getting this game use more than just this review to make your decision. But even if you think this game will be the greatest wrestling game ever and I'm just writing this review because I suck at it please rent it before buying it. It's much easier to take a game back to Blockbuster than it is to return one to GameStop.
Final Rating: 4/10
Reviewer's Score: 4/10 | Originally Posted: 09/15/08
Game Release: TNA iMPACT! (US, 09/09/08)
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