XBOX REVIEW: WWE WRESTLEMANIA XXI

For those of you who don't like to read a lot, let me say that the XBL feature of this game is glitched and you won't be getting online until somebody fixes the problem. How this game managed to ship without anyone actually testing a retail copy of the game is beyond me, but someone needs an asskicking. Earlier builds of the game allowed XBL - I should know, as I was given the opportunity to take it online with the guys here a month ago. That's my public service announcement. You now may commence reading the rest of the review.

Studio Gigante's take on Wrestlemania is fraught with bugs, glitches and options that appear in the manual but aren't anywhere to be found in the game itself (auto targetting system). As previously mentioned, the online portion of the game is currently unplayable as you cannot connect. So things aren't off to a rousing start. I should preface these complaints with the following: it's the nicest looking glitchiest product I've played in recent memory.

Wrestlemania XXI (XXI for short through the rest of the review) does a fine job presenting the gamer with as realistic a take on an unrealistic sport as possible. The roster of brutes and phillys, while a little light in the coffers, is fleshed out well and in my personal opinion I would say at least 2/3s of the wrestlers look excellent. Even if their faces are a tad mashed and unnatural, the bodies are all done well and dripping literally with details such as sweat and other glistening fluids. Entrances are over the top and while certain sticklers will complain that so and so doesn't do his dippity doo while walking into the arena, most of us will be fast forwarding these presentations after day 2.

Customization of your personal created character is very well done and brimming with options. You won't find this area of the game lacking in the slightest. Taking that created wrestler through the Career mode can be a slightly more frustrating endeavor. Wrestling is all about reversals and the almost endless array of counters at your disposal makes XXI extremely entertaining. With a stable of 200+ counters and reversals available to you and your opponent, you will notice on higher difficulty levels that you'll barely be able to get a move in edgewise. Almost everything you throw at your CPU opponent will be reversed and you'll be going down. You will also find that once you go down, it's extremely hard for you to get back up. For this very reason, I am going to call the higher difficulty mode at best unenjoyable and at worst virtually unplayable. It's not balanced at all and the CPU is always in favor.

Where Studio Gigante nailed the feel of wrestling along with the reversals available is the Heat gauge. This gauge will increase the more you dazzle the audience with your moves and combos- which is possible on the easier difficulty. Get the gauge high and you'll be blessed with the ability to pull off your characters finishers.

The presentation of XXI left no stone unturned in terms of wrestler recognition. The wrestlers real voices are present and as mentioned they are visually stunning. Most of them anyway.

The Career mode is a fun way to pass the time and much like TV wrestling you'll spend your time fighting for revenge, fighting for advancement and fighting for more revenge. Contrary to forum posts, Career mode IS playable. I've went through it twice without any hitches. Although it should be noted that older Xbox systems with the Thompson drive may experience freezing, lockups and long load times which may lead to freezing and lockups.

Played with 4 real players who have an intricate knowledge of the game, XXI's worthiness becomes apparent, but only because of the aforementioned reversal system. It really does make videogame wrestling that much more entertaining. Once this game goes online and if the XBL features turn out to be as good as promised, there may be a very good reason to look at XXI more closely. As it stands now, XXI seems unfinished and in desperate need of some sort of patch to fix a few glaring issues. Had this game been sent to me as a build, I wouldn't have reviewed it out of professional courtesy. Unfortunately I've been playing a store bought copy. Until the bugs are worked out, pull off a reversal of your own and keep this one on the EB store shelf.

Preview By Chris

Once a game only found on the GC system, it seems the new place to play WrestleMania is on the Xbox. As many wrestling fans found out, the "Raw" series was a huge disappointment and I am being nice by simply leaving my comments as is on that. Wrestling fans wanted a few things including an online mode, fights in the back and in the crowds and voices added. They also wanted a game that had decent controls and played better than it looked. "Raw" failed to deliver any of the above. So now it finally looks like those who enjoy wrestling will have those options and more with WrestleMania XXI (21 for those who may not know). As big of a fan of wrestling as I am, if you would have told me that WrestleMania would still be going 20+ years, I would have called you crazy. Yes- Wrestling has changed over the years yet, it still continues to draw in huge crowds, new heroes and the ability to rehash classic storylines and make them seem new.

THQ is promising a lot with this one and fans are going to expect it!
The game will have all the recent new wrestlers including the lovable Eugene who seems rather simple and innocent looking. Only to come into the ring and pull off every classic move from the wrestlers he followed growing up. In addition the game will have JBL, Ray Mysterio JR, Stacey Keibler, The Big Show and John Cena and that is just scratching the surface. By the time the game hits the shelves, this one will feature more wrestlers than any wrestling game before. It will even feature some classic "Old School favorites" who are no longer in tights, at least not in the ring anymore. It will also have 50 percent more voices than Smackdown vs. RAW and that is an incredible amount of voices for any game. The real wrestlers are doing the voice-over work to help add to the realistic look and feel the game is going for. So let's check the card shall we? With an online mode, create-a-legend mode, real voices and commentary it looks like this one has the things fans wanted.

The only thing that is a bit sketchy right now is the new revamped control system. You will be able to counter every move pulled on you. However, the interface sounds a bit strange. Icons will flash and by pressing the trigger at the right time, the move will be pulled off.It sounds a bit too simplistic and wrestling fans want moves that are easy but they also want to pull moves off themselves. Reading the PR packet on this one, the controls will allow you the freedom to pull off moves as well as the new interface. Players will also see the normal health meters and pinning signals when their opponent is weak enough. I hope to have a demo before the game's release. If so, I will do a hands-on preview and talk about the control system. Let's just hope that they are adding as much in this department as the others.

One last thing to touch on is the type of matches the game will have. Every time I write a wrestling game preview I get Email asking does it have this or that. The game is going to feature all the favorite matches. Hell in a Cell, Bra & Panty, Tables and Chair, Tag, 4-way. In short the game is going to feature almost every type of match ever created. I don't expect the Elimination Chamber but it is an impressive list. Also famous matches from other PPV venues will be included. Take a look at the screen shots and the list of features. I think you will have to agree this one is looking good. Maybe the Xbox will finally get a decent wrestling game!


Press:

WrestleMania can define a legacy, and yours is about to be written. The greatest spectacle in sports-entertainment comes to Xbox with WWE WrestleMania 21. The WWE experience has never been more lifelike with Superstar voice-over and commentary, an all-new proreversal system and motion capture technology, making this the most realistic looking grappler to date. Create the ultimate Superstar and watch him evolve as you earn new move-sets, costumes and abilities in your quest for the WWE Heavyweight Championship. Build the perfect championship belt and defend it on Xbox Live while gaining prestige with each victory you claim, or take on four of your friends in head-to-head competition online. WrestleMania 21 will immortalize your legacy forever. How will you become a Legend?

Features:

  • · Superstar voice-over and commentary
  • Become a Legend online via Xbox Live
  • Four-player head-to-head online play with multiple match types and voice chat support
  • New online create-a-belt feature will change the wrestling genre
  • Character Evolution - Unique character-building story mode allows you to upgrade you Superstar's appearance, abilities, entrance, costumes and move-set as you attempt to win the WWE Heavyweight Championship
  • Superstar moves and animations come to life like never before with motion captured technology
  • Pro reversal system - First wrestling game to ever feature a countering system that incorporates a contrary reversal for each and every attacking move
Click For Media
System: Xbox
Dev: Studio Gigante
Pub: THQ
Release: Apr 2005
Players: 1 - 4
Review by Dean
RATING (OUT OF 5)
OVERALL
3.0
GRAPHICS
4.5
CONTROL
4.0
MUSIC/FX
4.5
VALUE
2.0