Review by Mykas0

"I guess I'll have to check the controls once again..."

I have to start this review by saying that, despite being a WWE fan, this was my first wrestling game for PS2. Also, I wanted to thank "WORTEN" stores, since WWE games are always sold out around here but they could get me a copy of the game in order to write this review.

Before starting to play, you will probably notice an interesting thing about battles, since in the loading screen (immediately before starting one of them) you will see some of the controls (or information!) you may need to use for that battle/mode, which is nice for weaker players like myself.

I have to admit that I was slightly disappointed with the way everything is played in this game, and by reading the manual you will understand exactly what I mean: having more than 8 pages stating the controls, newbies (or maybe even advanced players!) may find it hard to remember everything, and even knowing them I was NEVER able to perform the same move twice in a row. Moves are usually performed by pressing a specific key and then a direction, but the final result may depend not only on what you pressed but also on the current status of your foe.

I am not sure if such function appeared in the games before this one, but most of the times you are able to reverse an attack by pressing a certain key at a specific time, which (on harder difficulty levels) may create an endless festival of reversals and make weaker players frustrated with the difficulty of the game.

By the time you finished your first battle, you will probably have notice one of the bugs of the game, in which sometimes your character locks to the wrestler who is nearer from him, but other times he doesn't. Therefore, it may be hard to control him and also hard to perform some actions (like opening the door to a cage), since most of the times you will be looking to a side you don't want to.

Also, your attacks often will seem to hit your foe, but you will notice that you didn't actually hit them. What happened? No idea!

The battle are now fully based on 2 different bars, one of which is for your momentum and another for the stamina. Each time you perform a move your stamina will go down, and when it reaches 0 you won't be able to compete for a while. Therefore, it is better for you to increase it as soon as you get the chance (either by performing no action at all or manually, by using the key specified in the manual).
Concerning the momentum, it goes up as the crowd enjoys what you are currently doing in the match or as you perform different moves, but it may also go down as you are hit or when you manually recharge stamina.

Fortunately the game contains not only a whole lot of wrestlers to play with (Batista, Cena, Eugene, Hogan and many other Smackdown and Raw superstars are playable!) but also options to create your own character and everything about him, enabling you to use your character on all the modes and play online with him. Apart from the new option that allows you to even create a new entrance to your wrestler, you can also create (and change) virtually everything about him, a detail which has been appearing in wrestling games for a long time.

Each of the characters' moves deal a different amount of damage and may hurt different parts of their body, making even a character bleed if he suffers a whole lot of damage. The way to perform those moves may also be changed for everyone, but as far as I noticed there is no way to change either the area of effect or the damage of a move.

Characters now seem to be created in a more realistic way than before, as their weights and sizes even seem to matter in middle of the battles, with members of the cruiserweight division not even being able to slam the likes of Big Show, while such big and strong characters can even easily throw weaker/smaller ones out of the ring in events like the Royal Rumble.

Concerning the events the characters are able to fight in, the game contains as many different types as the show, with the superstars being able to face each other on legendary battles as "Hell in a Cell", the classic "Royal Rumble", "Tag Team", "Hardcore", among many others. This new game also includes interesting new modes like "First Blood" (yes, your characters may now bleed!), "Buried Alive", "Backstage Brawl" and the probably unwanted diva's "Fulfill your Fantasy".

About modes, the game sure has a lot of them, with the classic story mode (here called "Season Mode") being given less importance than before. Now your superstars can also compete in a whole lot of matches on the Exhibition Mode, with a new option now being available, where some superstars are able to fight in the match of your choice with a title on the line. There is also the Online Mode (which I couldn't try) and the all new General Manager mode, one of the most amazing options I've ever seen in a game.

In this new mode, you can pick to play with either Eric Bischoff or Theodore Long (despite you will never actually see any of them!) and manage the rooster, bookings and everything with your brand, with the player being given the choice to get the same initial roosters from the show or create their own. Across an entire season (which, by the way, ends at Wrestlemania) you will have to take care of the bookings, create cards for the Pay-Per-Views, manage different types of advertising to appear on the show and everything that a General Manager is supposed to do. Your target? At the end of the year having higher more fans than the opposite brand. There are many other things to do in this mode, but without spoiling it too much I would just have to say that everything that happens in the show gets to happen in the game. Oh, and did I mentioned that you can virtually play forever in that mode? The score resets after Wrestlemania but you can continue playing as usual!

"Season Mode", this time it seems to only contain 4 different storylines (2 for each brand), or so I heard, since I only actually saw 2 of them, unless they consider "same dialogue with a different character" as a different storyline...

Many interesting options are also available in the game, like the idea of "challenges", which you can win by performing some specific options in the middle of a battle. Those may include things like "breaking a certain part of the set", "reverse X moves", "winning by doing a certain move" or many others, most of which are specified in the locker room. Some are REALLY hard and may cause problems even to advanced players, which may be frustrating sometimes.

About what I just said, most readers may probably already know about this but the Locker Room is the place where you can do lots of different things, like changing some minor games' options (don't even dare thinking it is the same thing as the Options mode, because it isn't!), seeing what tasks you have accomplished, store some of things you can buy (and also buy them, with the points you currently have!), seeing what trophies you already have and how to unlock the missing ones, and so on...

More about the way the game is actually played, I have to admit that things could be considered differently that what I've written if you are a skilled (and familiarized with the WWE games) player, unlike I was. You may have an easier time doing almost everything in the game, when I got an impressive difficulty performing such easy actions like reversing a move, performing a submission or even something as simple as climbing a cage.

Things like climbing a cage, starting a battle, putting your foe on a coffin, making him tap or other actions are now performed with the help of small (and really simple!) mini-games, where you will be told what to do in that very instant and you will need to do it as soon as possible.

All the things above grant an amazing replay value (I have to admit it, maybe even an infinite one!) to this game, and despite not having tested the online mode of the game I would have to say that, in such area, they probably can't create one with higher replay value than this.

As a final note about the game itself, I would have to add that sometimes the characters seem to be just dumb. For example, there are 3 guys on the ring, and they just stay there for a while, without doing anything at all. Fortunately it doesn't happen very often, but it actually happens many times.

Concerning the graphics, I've heard most people saying they are perfect, but I can't agree with it. All the characters are impressively drawn and so are the static images you can see in the menus, but this is where the problems start.
Sometimes sections of the characters are seen trespassing each of them, and there are even opportunities in which they get to cross static objects, as cages. As you may suppose, neither of that is good and obviously doesn't look any good.

The sound doesn't fit the game completely. Don't get me wrong, the musics, superstar themes and noises from the public are heard as clearly as possible and they are simply amazing, but almost everything you get to heard inside of the ring (and, even worse, on backstage brawls, since usually everything is quite in there) doesn't really seem to fit. For example, you can throw your opponent to the mat or in the outside, the sound is exactly the same. The sound of chops and punches has nothing to do with the actual show, and it doesn't even seem to sound as coming from that specific movie, which is obviously bad.

So, who should get this game? You shouldn't even think about getting it if you aren't a wrestling fan, but fans of the previous may also like this for the new stuff it contains. All the others, even if they are wrestling fans, can rent it first and then buy it if they feel like it, but I have to repeat that the controls may be way too hard for those casual players!

Reviewer's Rating:   3.5 - Good

Originally Posted: 11/20/05

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