The virtual wrestling ring has been barren over the years. With WCW dying out in 2001, the only non-WWE grappling games have been in the form of Legends of Wrestling and Backyard Wrestling. Since those games are terrible, THQ has been devoid of any competition and wrestling fans have been left with only the Smackdown series. Now another company is climbing the ladder to reach THQ’s once-undisputed title.
This past weekend I got the chance to head to Princeton, NJ, to preview Midway's new entry into the wrestling game circle TNA Impacts. You can never tell if the quality will be good or not with a game which was pushed back as much as TNA Impact was, but I must say that wrestling fans are in for a treat.
TNA Impact has the best graphics of any wrestling game to date. It’s a bold statement but one I can easily stick by. AJ Styles and Homicide were especially excited to see themselves in the game. It was for good reason too, the characters models are dead on and move naturally throughout the ring.
Another cool detail I noticed was a spotlight running through the crowd that landed on Booker T and Kurt Angle as they were brawling on the outside of the ring. The lighting looked great and is a nice touch.
The only arena I was able to see was the Impact Zone in Orlando, Florida. If you’ve ever seen TNA Impact on Spike TV then you know what to expect, the game looks spot on.
The Ultimate X Match is one of the coolest match types ever in a wrestling video game.
The version I played was the E3 build that included exhibition matches, free for alls, tag team matches, and the Ultimate X match. An exhibition match was your typical one on one match. There is no on-screen referee and there will be no calls for disqualification or rope break. There is no penalty for using the chairs littered around the ring.
One thing I have to mention is that there were no problems moving about the ring. It fit four people easily and it could be more if the game allowed.
The Ultimate X match is unlike anything you’ve played. The point of the match is to grab the title or object strung above the middle of the ring by climbing the turnbuckles and grabbing one of the four ropes leading to the title or object. It’s a TNA original and the unique match translates well to the game.
You press B to get to the top of the turnbuckle. To grab the rope above it you hold the left bumper and press B again. Once you’re on top you move towards to the middle of the ring and you can press the right bumper to pick your legs up and try to avoid attackers. Once you reach the object you press B to grab it and you’re given a timing mini-game. I would compare it to hitting a free throw in a SNES version of NBA Live. To win the match you must beat the timing game seven times. They do not have to be consecutive and they do not get more difficult as you get closer to victory.
The area was loud and I could only barely hear Mike Tenay and Don West on commentary. Everything I did hear from the game sounded great though.
The introductions from Jeremy Borash are spot-on. Someone with their eyes from the tube would think you are watching the television broadcast if they didn't know any better. Midway did an excellent job with the game's sound and looks.
Every wrestler has their authentic entrances themes. There are also twelve themes to be used for created wrestlers.
Authentic is what the Midway team was going after with the look of their game.
The story mode puts you in the boots of a fictional character named Suicide. Looking like a cross between Spiderman and Ghost Rider, he quickly rises to the top of TNA and becomes number one contender for the TNA World Heavyweight Championship.
Homicide and Hernandez of LAX have other plans for him when they pressure him to take a dive in his title bout. Suicide does things his way and wins the TNA World Heavyweight title later that night. His celebration does not last long because as soon as he walks backstage it’s LAX there to congratulate him…with their fists. They leave him in a body cast in a Mexican hospital. I’d like to mention that the story mode features full voice work from the characters you meet throughout gameplay. What I heard from LAX sounded genuine.
To this point you have no idea what Suicide looks like so now it’s your job to turn him into whomever you like. There are dozens of different choices for attire and accessories from face paint to kilts to basically anything you can think of.
You can pick and choose your moves one by one and there are three different fighting styles to choose from. Brawlers inflict more damage, high flyers can do aerial moves that others cannot and grapplers are more technical and submission savvy. If you’re familiar with TNA, Abyss would be a brawler, AJ Styles would be a high flyer and Kurt Angle would be a grappler. Once your wrestler is ready to go you stay in Mexico battling jobbers to rebuild your reputation.
I was not able to see much of the story mode after that. Mark Lappin, Lead Character Artist at Midway, did reveal that as the season progresses you’re able to change your garb, entrance music and add moves to your repertoire.
Kevin Nash will be an unlockable character in TNA iMPACT
TNA Impact will be the first wrestling game to include downloadable content in the form of wrestlers, arenas, and moves. There is currently no word on when the first batch of content will hit the web or if you will have to pay.
TNA Impact does feature online play over the PS Network and Xbox Live but I did not get a chance to test it out.
“Style Points” are the currency used to purchase the unlockable content already included on the disk. You can collect “Style Points” after every match in exhibition and story mode.
Some of the hidden grapplers officially revealed are Shark Boy, Kevin Nash, Sonjay Dutt and Afro Thunder of Ready 2 Rumble Boxing.
With a mix of homegrown talent and established stars, TNA is in prime position to fill the void left in 2001. A quality game can strengthen their momentum, and it looks like they have that on their hands with TNA Impact by Midway. TNA Impact scheduled for release in early September, giving hope to wrestling fans across the globe.