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TNA Impact (PS3)

Before checking out TNA Impact for the first time, my biggest worry was that the game would be a fighting game rather than a wrestling game. I worried about that because previously Midway Studios LA made a Mortal Kombat game. Once I played the game though, I realized it certainly had a fighting game feel, but that it was a big strength and a big weakness.

The fighting game feel is a big strength because it makes the action feel more organic and twitchy than a standard wrestling game. There's a frenetic pace because there's more quick grapples, punching, and reversals. The reversals are probably the most impressive part of the gameplay to me because basically any move can be reversed if you time the R1 button press right. Obviously TNA Impact isn't the first game to wave that flag, but unlike Smackdown, reversals are way more timing-based and you reverse grapples and punches/kicks the same way. The other added bonus is that those reversals can basically all chain together for some RVD-vs.-Lynn-circa-ECW-days-type moments. Not all moves will lead to reversal after reversal, but the idea is that an unlimited amount of reversals could conceivably happen after a single initial move.

The fighting game feel is a negative because the game seems to lack a proper amount of signature styles and wrestling moves. There's apparently three different styles depending on the type of TNA wrestler you are, but as I tried out various wrestlers I saw a lot of overlapping moves. In general it seems like there are less moves that each wrestler can do when compared to Smackdown as well. I also couldn't do any grapples on a wrestler once he was resting against one of the turnbuckles, which was odd.

Moving beyond the fighting game yin and yang, I feel like the other great aspect of TNA is the fact that basically every move can be interrupted. During a free for all match, if I see a wrestler going to pick up another wrestler for a body slam, I can punch the one wrestler and stop that move from happening. One big thing that is always bothersome in Smackdown is the fact that you can't interrupt long animations.

The TNA wrestlers look great graphically, and in general I had a good time playing the game. But replay value and signature styles will be the issues moving forward.

Biggest Positive: The reversal system is simple yet rewarding.

Biggest Negative: There's tons of overlap when it comes to move sets.

Biggest Question: This game won't have the replay value of a Smackdown, so will the gameplay be good enough to win wrestling fans over?

WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2009 (360)

I witnessed the new Inferno Match, and had some hands-on when it came to testing out the new-and-improved tag-team wrestling. The Inferno Match seems to be another one of those mini-game oriented gimmicks (I don't mean gimmick in a negative way). Honestly it doesn't personally excite me, but at least lighting was rather impressive in that match type.

The tag-team mechanics I really wanted to check out because tag-team wrestling has never been really enjoyable in Smackdown games. So therefore the development team's focus was making sure that the tag teams work together more, and make it so being on the apron is somewhat enjoyable.

So while on the apron for example, you can now pull down on the ropes or kick a wrestler in the back who bounces off the ropes near you. Another thing you can do now on the apron is build up a "hot tag" (you get one a match), and if your partner tags you in a mini-game of sorts occurs. As you approach each of your opponents a little on-screen button appears, and if you hit that button in time you hit that opponent and go for the next one. If you mess up the quick-time event, then you lose the hot tag. (In case non-wrestling fans are reading, a hot tag just means someone who has the adrenaline pumping and as soon as he hits the ring he takes out everyone in his sight.) Unfortunately the hot tag only lasts for a very short time. I was thinking that since you only get to use it once a match, why not have it last a bit longer?

During my playtime the THQ guys also said that matches would no longer end with a simple body slam or sleeper hold. So now true to life, wrestlers will win matches with big finishers or painful submission holds.

Outside of the ring, the thing I saw was the Create-a-Finisher. I didn't get to play around with it, but there can be up to 10 steps to your finisher. That doesn't mean at each step you can do a ridiculous maneuver though, since if you do one of the moves listed as a finisher before step 10, that ends the CAW process.

Biggest Positive: The load times are finally good.

Biggest Negative: It doesn't seem like thee "hot tag" lasts long enough.

Biggest Question
: What's going on with the online modes this year?

WWE Legends of Wrestlemania (hands-off)

If you were simply expecting a Smackdown game that had a roster full of legends, then well, you were wrong. Legends of Wrestlemania is a more simplified version of Smackdown, built with an all-new gameplay engine that only requires the four face buttons and the analog stick for movement. Each face button does something different: one grapples, one strikes, one Irish whips, and one causes reversals.

The other new mechanics here deal with the appearance of a life meter, and the three-tiered level for moves. If your life meter runs out it will obviously be very hard to kick out of pins. You can gain health back in a few ways though. The one I saw was when Andre the Giant walked over to Bobby "The Brain" Heenan (Bobby was momentarily on the apron) and The Brain whispered some sweet-nothings into Andre's ear.

You get to the next tier of moves by being successful. Conceivably that means pulling off a rapid amount of strikes and grapples in quick succession, moving your way up the three tiers and pulling off a finisher within the first few minutes. That might turn some people off since matches could end very quickly. But since the game is more casual this time around it seems like getting in and out is sort of the idea.

I should mention that the point of the game is to relive, rewrite, or redefine key matches from Wrestlemania history. The match that was shown during the demo was Hogan vs. Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III. You can relive Hogan's body slam and leg drop; you can rewrite the moment by having Andre pull off the win; or you can redefine the moment by putting the wrestlers in a steel cage etc.

The Wrestlemania Tour Mode will be the place where you do most of these type of things, as there are supposed to be matches from the first 15 Wrestlemanias.

The game is supposed to release right around the time of the next real-world Wrestlemania.

Biggest Positive: The game looks amazing graphically. Hogan and Andre weren't technically in the Silverdome, but the lighting and the arena really gave off the feeling that you were actually at Wrestlemania 3.

Biggest Negative
: Not sold on the new gameplay mechanics, such as the life meter and tiered level of moves.

Biggest Question
: Will the common Smackdown gamer care about this more simplified version of wrestling?

Member Comments
# 1 Maynard_G_Krebs @ 01/12/09 12:37 PM
# 2 tvaughan @ 03/16/09 12:12 AM

good morning,
have a break,listen some musics on itunes,


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