When I first heard that Acclaim was releasing a WWF wrestling videogame for Sony Playstation a few months ago, I had my reservations. Visons of sprite wrestlers using moving 500 mph across my video screen using about three real wrestling moves in someones backyard flashed across my mind, and I feared the worst.
Never fear wrestling fans! After only 24 hours of purchasing the new WWF Warzone game, we here at PWBTS can declare it an instant classic. Great graphics, outstanding wrestling action, plus a great pre-game, color commentary and realistic sound effects make this a MUST have for any wrestling fan with the PS system.
But all that aside, if there is one feature that makes this game worth the price on its own, it's an awesome Create-A-Wrestler feature that I spent literally hours messing with (probably even more than playing the game itself, and the gameplay is awesome). With this feature you can store up to 30 wrestlers using hundreds of options from skin color to body type to even tattoos!
What is especially neat about this feature is that you can pick an accurate body type. For example I was able to re-create a frighteningly accurate Abdullah the Butcher because unlike games in the past, you can choose a "Superheavyweight" body type, not just putting Abby's head on some steroid freak body. Other scary recreations I've done so far are the Sheik, Penna Indie worker Chef DZ Gillespie, and a halfway decent Harley Race (which would have looked a little better if you could add a pot-belly!)
Of course not ALL my create-a-wrestlers worked out. I attempted a Killer Khan but he ended up looking like a character from a bad Jean Claude Van-Damme movie, and my attempt at Dory Funk Jr ended up looking like Dennis Corralluzzo in a vest. But hey, how many of the wrestlers in WCW v the World really look realistic once they are in the ring? (by the way there is a way to build a female wrestler but I haven't been able to get it to work. Anyone who has the code please e-mail us!)
OK now to the gameplay. The game starts out with an exact replication of the Raw is War/ Warzone opener, which you would expect. Then you have several choices. You can take on the computer one-on-one in a regular match, weapons match and cage match, or pick two wrestlers and battle in a tag-team match.
There is also an interesting Challenge mode where you take any wrestler and try to work your way up the rankings in the WWF and eventually challenge for titles. So if you are a real mark, you can actually create a wrestler that looks like yourself with your name, and step into the ring and get your ass kicked like I did when I took on Farooq and Headbanger Thrasher. (Thank god there is no Afa character so far in the game!) And if you suck, there is a very realistic training mode where you can practice the game moves in a wrestling school type setting. And they won't even take your $2000 to break your ribs!
Of all the modes tried so far, the weapons match and a two player co-operative tag match are the most fun. In the weapons match you try to pick up steel chairs, TVs and 2 x 4s (you know, plunder) and whack the bejeezus out of your opponents. In the co-operative mode, me and a buddy created two skinny wrestlers that looked like us and laughed our asses off as we tried to take on Bret Hart and Ken Shamrock (yes, Bret is in the game).
As for the in-ring animation itself, the graphics are extremely lifelike using photo-like faces on polygon bodies. The action is smooth, not jerky. And unlike games in the past, there seems to more realistic wrestling moves, not just a guy putting a figure 4 on his opponent then standing up after three seconds, an annoying feature in the WCW games.
During the matches, there is optional commentary by Vince McMahon and Jim Ross, which can get repeitive after a while but still adds an element of realism to the game. There are also great crowd chants, such as "Burn In Hell!" when Kane is in the ring.
As with any videogame (all right, Resident Evil 2 is perfect), there are some minor flaws with the game, which are in no way a dealbreaker since the game is SO good. First of all, there are times when it seems a after taking an incredible bump the wrestler gets up way too fast in an attempt to keep the match going. The selection of WWF wrestlers (from late 1997 when the game was developed) belies the lack of talent depth that has haunted the WWF for years.
There are only 16 WWF wrestlers to choose from (probably about 60 more if you can break the codes) While the prospect of taking on Steve Austin, Shawn Michals, the Harts, Shamrock, Undertaker, Kane , and the Rock arer intriguing, I'm not really thrilled to see what it would be like to take on Farooq and the Headbangers. While this can cured by creating and choosing your own wrestler, the computer randomly chooses your opponent in one player and co-op modes.
The only other complaint I have is that during the weapons match when you hit an opponent with a chair or whatever, the weapon dissapears as your swinging it down, which looks real cheesy. Fortunately Acclaim made up for this by having blood splatter as your cracking your opponents cranium open.
There is a strategy guide avasilable for $20, so it is possible some of the flaws listed above can be corrected, and god knows what sick shit is secretly programmed into this sucker. There is also an N64 version of this game, but I do not know if has been released yet.
One final note: I don't know if it just me, and please email us if you played the game and noticed it too, but whenever I challenge or wrestle as Bret Hart, he seems rather . . weak?
You don't think that Vince. . . .NOOOOOOOOOOOO!
Dan Moreland is a columnist for Pro Wrestling's Between The Sheets - for comments or opposing viewpoints please e-mail to Dan Moreland