Total Extreme Wrestling 2008 Review (PC)
Total Extreme Wrestling 2008 is part business sim, part soap opera sim. In the game you take on the job of head booker of a professional wrestling organization, deciding who wins and who loses while writing out the storylines your fans will follow. While being creative, you will also find yourself negotiating the contracts for all of your workers and doing your best to keep your organization out of bankruptcy.
You begin the game by picking from one of several in game personalities you can control while taking on the head booking position of a wrestling organization. You can start off by controlling the best wrestling organization in the world, or you can take over one of the small, struggling organizations or you can take over one that falls somewhere in between. There are also two options for how you want to play, straight edge or free style. If you choose to play the straight edge style then your owner will give you several goals he expects you to achieve. If you choose to play free style, you won't have any goals minus not getting fired for poor performance.
However, if playing around in one of the most detailed fictional universes you'll ever see in a sim game isn't quite your thing, the mod community has really supported this game.
The owner's goals will be anywhere from the next step towards making the organization a global power to something small, like giving a certain worker a push or not hiring a certain type of worker. These goals really add flavor to the game and help it feel alive.
All of the organizations offer a product which defines what fans you are catering to. You must be aware of your product and what the fans will be expecting to see at your shows, or you are going to fail miserably. If you book nothing but hardcore matches for an organization that appeals to a family-friendly crowd, expect those people to stop coming, and then expect to have to find a new job.
The game world of TEW is called "Cornell-verse". It's a fictional wrestling world that has been refined over years. The game isn't just filled with a few hundred generic workers with no personality or history. Instead, most of the people have a detailed history, relationships with other workers, and personalities that make each and every worker feel like a unique individual.
However, if playing around in one of the most detailed fictional universes you'll ever see in a sim game isn't quite your thing, the mod community has really supported this game. There are several real world mods posted on the boards at Gray Dog, and there are always several more in the works. Some mods are based on the current wrestling world, but some modders have created mods that take you back to the 80s and 90s. A lot of the mods also come filled with new angles, storylines, match types and just about everything else in the game which can be modified (just about everything).
Booking a show is the main event of this sim. The booking screen is where your knowledge of your fan base and the quality of your roster will become apparent. If you do not give the fans what they want, expect attendance to decline. However, if you have hired a good road agent he will let you know what you are doing wrong so that you can quickly correct your mistakes and repeat the things you do correctly.
The game offers a large amount of match types to use, some of which will be unavailable if your company's popularity is not high enough. You are given a lot of control over how a match plays out in the form of road agent notes. You can set how you want the match to finish, if one of the wrestlers should come out looking better, if the match should be scripted or called on the fly, and most importantly, who wins. Or, if you just want to manage the bigger details you can leave it up to your road agent to decide the details.
The interface looks good, it is very intuitive, but it is also a bit too complicated for it's own good.
Some organizations will have fans that will expect to see storylines involving the workers. The game comes with about two dozen or so prewritten storylines which, quite frankly, are not nearly enough. Also, the stock storylines haven't changed in the last few releases, and with some of the changes to the game mechanics, a few are obsolete and practically unusable. You'll also notice that some angle categories contain very few stock angles.
Fortunately, if you are not feeling creative and don't want to write out your own storylines, the game allows you to run unchained storylines. These are basically free-form. You can run any match or angle as long as two workers in the storyline are included and it will advance. The game also provides an angle editor, so if you can't find an angle you want or need, it's very easy to quickly write up your own. Editing your own storylines and angles is a decent compromise for the limited amount of stock storylines and angles, but I'd like to see a lot more added to the game in future versions.
One of the negatives of the game is the documentation. Total Extreme Wrestling 2008 has a steep learning curve because of the lack of documentation. The documentation looks more like a fan created mini-guide than a manual by the company. This will require you to play several games to learn the basics on your own since you can't really rely too much on the documentation to give you a thorough run down of how the game works. The guide gives you a brief walkthrough, but the game is so deep that the guide barely scratches the surface of what you'll need to know.
Another problem is the interface. The interface looks good, it is very intuitive, but it is also a bit too complicated for it's own good. There are tasks that you have to do that take two and sometimes three screens to complete that really should only need one to get the job done. The amount of mouse clicking that occurs in the game has been improved a lot with each iteration, and the UI in general has come a long way, but it is not quite on the level of greatness yet.
TEW really pulls you in and gives you that "one-more-turn" (in this case, card) feeling.
The game is a leap ahead of the previous version. A lot of new features have been added to the game, both big and small. When you have a lot of time in between cards, you can now advance multiple days, which is a welcome addition for many. An overhaul of personalities for workers make them come alive. You'll now also have to hand out punishments for workers that cause problems, giving you an extra incentive to hire workers who are positive influences in the locker room while giving you some tough decisions to make when one of your stars refuses to behave himself.
While the game needs a little more work on the UI and with its documentation, overall the game is a winner. TEW 2008 is currently one of my most played games. This game is not just for the wrestling die hards as I have not followed professional wrestling is over a decade. TEW really pulls you in and gives you that "one-more-turn" (in this case, card) feeling. It is a well designed, deep game that will appeal to anyone who enjoys text sims.