|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Midway Studios Los Angeles||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Midway Games||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Sept. 9, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Pete Richards
I always felt that when ECW, WCW, and then-WWF merged in 2001, it was somewhat cool that you finally got to see stars from each league interact.
However, it didnt take long for me to realize that with all three promotions under the control of Vince McMahon, the fun was short-lived. Gone were the different television programs, live events, and video games that gave wrestling some variety. The good news is though, while Vince has continued to run the wrestling show, over the past several years other leagues have slowly gained popularity on television in the shadow of the superpower. Thankfully, Total Nonstop Action, formed by Jeff Jarrett in 2002, has gained lots of support from true fans of wrestling seeking an alternative. Making its video game debut, this first and very welcomed edition of TNA iMPACT! features some of the biggest wrestling legends of all-time to thrash around in TNAs hexagonal ring.
Theyre all here: Sting, Booker T, Kevin Nash, Scott Steiner, Kurt Angle, Devon and Ray Dudley, Rhino, and 20 other contract athletes to take complete control over. Wrestling fans will love being able to take some of the biggest legends in the game such as Scott Steiner and pin them up against lesser known, yet equally cool, athletes like Homicide or Shark Boy. The absence of any TNA Knockouts is somewhat disappointing, though the ability to play as some of TNAs most famous and bizarre characters is long overdue. TNA iMPACT! doesnt offer many playable characters when first jumping in either, meaning players will have to fight their way through an entire career if they wish to unlock all the superstars and arenas the game has to offer.
For anyone familiar with wrestling games, the controls for TNA iMPACT! arent difficult to grasp at all, borrowing heavily from WWEs blueprints. Simply enough, you have your punch, kick, grapple, and action face buttons; your reversal, run, strength, and taunt buttons on the left and right shoulders; and player movement is controlled with the Left Analog. Combining buttons pulls off all the really fun stuff such as picking up and swinging weapons, jumping off cables, performing Irish whips, and putting opponents to sleep using the games unique finishing system. Each player is given an iMPACT! meter located on the sides of the screen. Both meters fill up with flames as players act out successful moves on each other, but, if one meter fills completely, then that player can pull off his finisher before the flames extinguish. Its a good system that adds a unique spin on the finishing scheme. However, its too bad that each athlete is only designated one finishing move, whereas SmackDown! vs. Raw offers multiple finishers per character. In addition to the iMPACT! meter, there is also a stun meter which fills up to show how dazed each player has become throughout the match. Also, theres an image to show how much damage each character has received to various parts of the body, exactly like the type of damage meter found in WWE titles.
In a genre long dominated by one organization, it is inevitable that TNA iMPACT! is going to get compared to SmackDown! vs. Raw (SDvR). In this case, there are several lacking elements that I hope Midway and TNA will focus on in the future. The first is the lack of moves. Not only are players only capable of pulling off one finisher each, many players are designated the exact same moves, whether its a suplex, ground punch, or a simple taunt. The lack of any double-team moves is a noticeable blemish, which can definitely be improved to add more variety to the game. It is the lack of moves that makes it pretty easy to become bored with TNA iMPACT!, as too many players pull off the same motion captions. The inability to roam through arenas makes Falls Count Anywhere matches somewhat pointless, as you cant throw opponents over guard rails, and invisible walls make it impossible to go up the entrance ramp. One of the most fun elements of SmackDown! vs. Raw is dragging an opponent room to room and through the crowd, picking up whatever weapons you can find, and using your environments to beat the living hell out of each other.