Review by BigBombB
A Game That Perfectly Reflects The TNA Product
Total Nonstop Action was founded in 2003 by Jeff and Jerry Jarrett to fill the void left behind when World Championship Wrestling was purchased by Vince McMahon (owner of World Wrestling Entertainment). What made TNA stand out initially was the athleticism of it's X-Division which was basically an altered style of the much acclaimed WCW cruiserweight division. Wrestlers like AJ Styles, Christopher Daniels, Jerry Lynn, Senshi, and numerous others helped to sell the early pay-per-view only shows that TNA put on with their spectacular ring work. As time went on, TNA landed a television deal with Spike TV, former network of Monday Night Raw, to air weekly episodes of Impact! Over the years TNA has been groomed to be the next potential contender to the WWE juggernaut and it only made sense to begin competing with them on multiple levels. Enter TNA Impact! the video game.
The Talent (Good):
Grabbing For The X: This game is the first one in history to feature the TNA exclusive Ultimate X match and it does a reasonable job of capturing the excitement that this match type is known for. Climbing up to the cables, hanging precariously across from an opponent who is doing the same, and battling until one falls to the ring below is surprisingly fun. Even the mini-game to pull the X down adds to the excitement of the match as you frantically try to win as opponents are constantly trying to stop you.
Old School Feel: The six-sided ring helped to define TNA when it was first trying to pull in casual fans. It set TNA apart as a clear alternative to the WWE and all of the other American indy promotions who all wrestled in the traditional four sided ring. This is a time before the Hogan era and a time that a lot of longterm TNA fans miss.
The Roster: As someone sitting in late 2010 looking back at the stars featured in this game, names like Samoa Joe and AJ Styles being featured in their best known forms is quite refreshing. Guys like Senshi and numerous other X-Division wrestlers who helped define that division but no longer wrestle in TNA and a complete roster of some of the best tag teams that have ever been in the company really add to the appeal of the game. Just like in real life, the talent itself is one of the strongest points in the TNA Impact! video game.
Flips And Awesomeness: There are a limited amount of moves in this game, but even the most jaded gamer will find some of the moves to be pretty cool. Various flips and dives off the ropes look excellent (when they connect) which is one of the highlights of the in-ring action. Punches and kicks all seem to have weight behind them as well so you feel like you are doing significant damage any time an attack lands.
Mini-Games: During submissions and during the Ultimate X match there are mini-games that you go through in order to "win". For submissions, you have to enter a three button combination before your opponent does. If you're the one putting the submission on, winning the mini-game causes more damage but if you're the one in the submission, winning lets you escape. This is actually a very novel and fun aspect to the game. When it comes to pulling down the X in Ultimate X a bar appears with an arrow flying from left to right. The goal is to land the arrow in the middle numerous times to finally get the X down. This is probably what makes ultimate X the most fun part of the game and is well worth experiencing.
The Future (Bad):
Gameplay: At first the arcade style of the game seems appropriate for a TNA video game, it is in stark contrast to the more grapple heavy WWE games, and makes for fast paced action that hasn't been seen since the early Smackdown titles on Playstation. Unfortunately, this is where the positives end. After the first few matches, you quickly see that all of the wrestlers are fundamentally similar and that every match is a chore in repetition. Singles matches become dull and redundant, while tag matches are twice as bad. I should also mention that you don't automatically stand up, instead you roll around the mat a bunch until you press the action button. Interestingly, if you roll from the outside of the ring to the inside you damage your opponent! If you're on the defensive, you will seriously spend a considerable amount of your time rolling on the mat hoping not to get hit. There is also a stun meter that you can fill, once its filled the opponent can't move or attack until they are no longer stunned. It works decently until you face someone like AJ Styles who, once stunned, seems to have the magic power of instantly recovering. Finally, submissions are almost useless. Nearly every move you do damages the body and there are very few moves that focus on other limbs. It takes significantly longer to wear someone down to make them submit than it does to just pin them, so unless you're playing against a friend and stipulate "submissions only", you're likely to never use them.
Nonsense Storylines Are Not Television Exclusive: The story mode in TNA Impact! is...something else. You would think that a bare bones story mode for a video game thats only purpose is to justify the matches you're taking part in couldn't possibly be convoluted but TNA, against all odds, managed to do it. Future real life TNA star Suicide gets taken out by Homicide and Hernandez at the Impact! Zone, loses his memory, and somehow ends up in Mexico. From there, Suicide has to earn his way back to TNA and make his way to the ultimate goal of every star. It all seems so basic, yet the narration and interactions with TNA stars are all so poorly done that you're always looking behind your back hoping no one walks into the room (assuming they wouldn't judge you just for playing this game in the first place).
The "Other" Roster: On your road to victory, there are a lot of potholes. These come in the form of generic wrestlers that don't actually exist with stupid names and horrible outfits. When you're playing the story mode and you're wrestling in pretend promotions outside of TNA it makes sense to have made up wrestlers to face. Why these people are all unlockable and take up space on the roster page is beyond me, but at least I can understand their purpose in this sense. Unfortunately, when you get into TNA you still end up facing these same generic jobbers. A pattern develops where you wrestle two jobber matches and then face one actual TNA star, which serves no purpose other than to extend the story mode far beyond what it should be. It gets especially annoying as the difficulty in the story mode slowly gets ramped up and suddenly it takes three times as long to put these non-wrestlers away.
We've Got This Match On Lockdown: No, there are no cage matches in this game, but I feel that the general strategy to each match deserves its own section. After all, different wrestlers have different strengths and should be used in different ways to exploit the weaknesses of their opponents. Midway did not get this memo however, instead every match breaks down into the following: kick, kick, kick, strong kick, strong kick, strong kick, strong kick, strong kick, hopefully opponent falls down, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, stomp, occasional punch to break up the monotony, throw in a rare grapple, pin, win. This strategy is especially important in the story mode where opponents become RIDICULOUSLY overpowered as time goes on and you have to exploit the broken gameplay system or lose. Using numerous grapples work well on easier difficulties but are countered with great regularity on harder difficulties. When you consider that on harder difficulties the counters do more damage, your stunned meter fills faster, and your opponents Impact! meter fills faster, any time the opponent does ANY offense is a time where you may go from a perfectly healthy green to a near finished red state with luck being your only way to prevent it.
Bound For Glitches: This game is so broken I don't even know where to begin. If you're the non-legal man in a tag match and try to jump off of the ring apron to the outside there is a REALLY good chance you're going to get stuck in an infinite walking animation which leaves your partner to fend for himself. Midway, in its infinite wisdom, decided that if you aren't the legal man then the only time you're allowed to wander around ringside is if the legal men are also out there. This led to numerous glitches that make tag team matches incredibly unfun to play. Although, if you're a fan of breaking games then TNA Impact! tag team mode is for you!
I only played the game for a few hours with a friend but in that time we saw some of the most ridiculous glitches we have ever seen. In one case one of the computer controlled wrestlers suddenly launched into outer space only to start climbing a turnbuckle he was nowhere near when the game fixed itself. I'm not kidding either, the wrestler literally shot up into the air, the screen went black, then when the game fixed itself he was climbing a random turnbuckle. Play testing was evidently not a great concern when it came to quality assurance for this one. We also saw a wrestler who was standing on the ring apron suddenly glitch into the ring, then glitch through a turnbuckle, only to end up being dropped on the outside of the ring as if he had fallen once the game realized what was going on. When you stand up after being knocked down sometimes your wrestler will face away from your opponent and attack the air, allowing your opponent an excellent opportunity to knock you back down and do a ton more damage. I could literally go on for pages about the glitches I experienced, but you get the point.
WCW All Over Again:
How To Play The Game: If you're like me, then if a game includes tutorials the first thing you do before you play is watch them. Even if the tutorials aren't really necessary, you never know what little hints you may learn or what sort of unintentional comedy might come from them. There is some serious Mystery Science Theater 3000 level badness occurring here as Jay Lethal, Christopher Daniels, AJ Styles, and Samoa Joe teach us all how to "master" the various aspects of the TNA Impact! video game. I know these explanations were meant to be tongue in cheek but they still should have been done better.
Six-Sides, Difficult Physics: When you play a game where you're in a four sided ring, when you hit the ropes you shoot back in the same direction you just came from. In a six sided ring when you hit the ropes you come off at an angle. Considering the game is primarily a left to right fighter in a 3D environment, when you come off the ropes at an angle it is COMPLETELY USELESS! You'll find yourself running, expecting to hit the ropes, but accidentally running into a turnbuckle instead. In a game filled with numerous problems already, this inconvenience just adds to the lack of fun. On the flip side, the six sided ring does add a welcome element of chaos that no other wrestling game provides which can make for some entertaining moments.
Buy It, Rent It, or Forget About It?: The cost of renting and the cost of buying are about the same at this point, but really I would recommend neither anyway. If you're a fan of TNA and tend to buy their merchandise then you likely already own this game so it's quality doesn't mean much to you. If you're just a gamer looking for an entertaining wrestling game, this isn't it. Unless you like glitches, a nonsense story mode, and questionable hit detection TNA Impact! is best left on the store shelves. You're better off trying to find a friend who was silly enough to buy it, play a few Ultimate X matches, and be satisfied with that being as good as the game gets.
What Is The Maximum You Should Pay To Buy?: Six Dollars, the same as the number of sides to the ring. There are some undeniably fun aspects to the gameplay that help this game from being complete crap, really anytime you have multiplayer you can tend to pull out some enjoyment. The real problem is that there is a lot of bad to wade through for a limited amount of good and there are much better options out there.
- - - - - - Where The Points Were Lost:
- Chair shot, chair shot, chair shot...wow, he is still green...Oh no! He countered me! I just went from green to orange! WHAT!?
- Since when are all exhibition matches no DQ? Oh well, it makes the story mode a bit easier to play through
- Did Suicide fall into a box of Christmas decorations?
- I just won Ultimate X as Rhino because the computer kept attacking my friend, sweet cheap victory!
- Kick, kick, kick...*sigh*...kick, kick, kick
Rating: 1.5 - Bad
Product Release: TNA iMPACT! (US, 09/09/08)
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