"This game is the definition of "meh""

I love wrestling. I love everything about it. Doesn't matter if it's WWE, ECW, NOAH, CZW, TNA, NJPW... I love it. I also love wrestling games. I've been playing them for as long as I can remember. (I believe WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game on SNES was my first) I buy any wrestling game I can get my hands on. Unfortunately this was one of them...

You are Suicide. You're on top of TNA. Suddenly, LAX takes that all away from you. You wake up in a seedy hospital in Mexico. They doctors that are with you just happen to be plastic surgeons and agree to give you whatever look you want. As the story progresses, you fight your way to the states and into TNA. You climb up the ranks until you're the new King of the Mountain, the new TNA Champion! The story is actually really, really good. The voice acting is great, and the scripts themselves are entertaining. They're not at all cheesy either. It's unfortunate that it's the same exact story every time you play through. Being able to choose your own path would've really helped out the story. Maybe next time?

They're very nice. All of the competitors look remarkably like their real life counterparts. The crowds are incredibly detailed and fit in with the environment. (The Japanese arena features Asian businessmen wearing suits, while the Orlando arena features casually dressed American fans.) The ring entrances are very short, but they look great. They only go to the end of the entrance ramp, but it's really no biggy.

Remember how I said story mode was great? Well, it is. The scenes are great. The problem is what's in between the scenes: the matches. The gameplay is WCW Backstage Assault bad. No lie. Damn near every wrestler feels the same. Every X-Division wrestler feels like the other. Every heavyweight feels like the rest. Every grappler feels like the rest. The move variety is atrocious. Each wrestler has a unique finishing move. (Well, most of them are unique anyway.) Unfortunately, that's the only unique thing. There's a total of five (5!) submission holds in the whole game! (That's not including Scott Steiner's Steiner Recliner, which is unique to him) Angle doesn't have his ankle lock, Sting doesn't have his Scorpion Deathlock, Samoa Joe doesn't have his rear naked choke. Most of the standing grapple moves are recycled from wrestler to wrestler. The movesets are incredibly generic and innacurate. There's a plethora of moves that are completely unblockable as well. This is a necessity in story mode against the incredibly cheap AI, but it totally ruins online play. The AI is cheap. I don't care what anyone says. They can get you into "orange" in a matter of a few moves, yet hitting a finisher on them barely phases them. I like a challenge, but it's just unfair how much the game is in favor of the AI.

The controls are fairly easy to pick up on. "A" does kicks, "X" does punches, "Y" does grapple moves, and "B" is the action button (used to climb in/out of ring, onto turnbuckle...etc). The LB is a "strong modifier". By holding it down, you perform stronger moves. They're fairly responsive and great for casual gamers. The only real downfall of the controls is the minigames. The submission minigame is dumb. You have to hit a sequence of three buttons faster than your opponent to keep your hold locked in. Regardless of how well you do, it's released after three successful combinations. The pinning minigame is god-awful, mother ****ing horrid. You have to flip the sticks back and forth to get out of pins. It's the only thing in the controls and reacts badly. There's plenty of room to improve on the controls, but it's a very solid start especially for a first try.

Lasting Appeal
There's a very limited CAW system. The match selection is pretty limited (singles, tag, Ultimate X, and Falls Count Anywhere). The story mode only has one linear path. Online is full of cheaters. If you have a group of friends over, this is a really fun game to play. It's easy to pick up and do insane spots in an Ultimate X. Not a whole helluva lot more. There's supposedly DLC coming in the form of two new wrestlers to choose. (Curry Man and Petey Williams) I guess that's something to look forward too.

+Stellar graphics
+Easy to pick up, yet fairly deep control scheme

-Very poor AI (your tag team partner rarely comes in to save you, and the opponent seems to inflict damage twice as fast as you can)
-Limited movesets (We were promised over 2,000 moves. WHERE THE **** ARE THEY?)

I wanted to like this game. I really did. I watch iMPACT every Thursday night, so don't think I'm a WWE fanboy. This is a half-assed attempt at a wrestling game. They took three years to develop this? Really?

Buy or Rent?
Rent first, for sure. $60.00 is a lot to pay for such a shallow game.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 09/17/08

Game Release: TNA iMPACT! (US, 09/09/08)

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