I had been out of the Wrestling game business since THQ lost the rights to the series back in the last generation of games. However, it was taken over by 2k, the creators of the best Football simulator in the last 15 years, so I thought it might even be an upgrade. I am no longer a regular viewer of their programming but I grew up a Hulkamaniac and I love creating characters so I always had a soft spot for these wrestling games where I could spend hours building my friends and random celebrities or classic wrestlers and input them into the game. This last weekend Xbox Live offered the game for free, and while I didn’t play the game long enough to do a proper and fair review these were my takeaways.
1. The Build-A-Superstar options are still some of the best in video gaming, however the designs had some buggy problems, clipping, and sometimes could have extended load times for seemingly small changes. You also can’t quite micro control some features that you could before but I still was able to make reasonable facsimiles of myself and my wife.
2. I intended to play the “Career” mode as my wife for a different perspective and sadly, the women are only for show. I could not utilize her in the story mode and couldn’t even have her as my manager which was disappointing.
3. The wrestling portion of the game is near unplayable. Being familiar with the THQ style controls which certainly had some drawbacks of their own, this version is chaos. I never once felt like I was in control of a fight, much of it felt wildly arbitrary with too much being dependent on your timed button strikes that are nothing like the polished button timed attacks of say a God of War. In the story mode it was easier for me to do tag matches, tag my partner and then run outside and beat up the partner so he couldn’t tag and hope my teammate won.
I see where they are going, they are trying to make the matches seem fluid and skilled. They want to avoid the button mashing insanity of previous entries and limit the number of counter attacks. In my opinion they are wrong. The button mashing to escape a choke feels more intense and true to the spirit of watching the show than the timed mini games which offer little to no satisfaction. You often watch your character getting beaten to death while you try to figure out when you can counter attack. And when they stand up your character and you can’t control them and have to watch them wobble for 10 seconds you want to throw your controller at the screen.
I loved the promise of the game, the career mode looked like it had a lot of branching avenues of content that could last for a good long time, but sadly this game wasn’t fun to play. It literally was torture to wrestle. Maybe some people will more quickly take to the new designs, or maybe playing on “Easy” will be less maddening, but for me until I hear they revamped the controls entirely I am no longer curious about future releases in this series. Looks like I will be on the hunt for the last game with the THQ model X13 or maybe 2k14 before they completely reworked the system to this mess.