sunnuntai 20. maaliskuuta 2011

REVIEW - WWF Raw (2002)

GENRE(S): Sports / Fighting
RELEASED: February 2002
DEVELOPER(S): Anchor Inc. (PC), THQ (Xbox), Microvision Inc.

I've never considered myself to be much of a PC player. Actually, when I first got a proper computer, a friend of mine burned a few relatively new games for me to test out the actual spunk of my hardware as opposed to its technical information - which usually doesn't mean squat just in itself. One of those games was WWF Raw, which was only a couple of months old, and although I was already quite a professional wrestling fan, I wasn't too excited about it since wrestling games had never made a very positive impression on me before, and it was a PC game - I was a console gamer all the way. In time, I found myself somewhat addicted to it, but after getting familiar with the SmackDown! series on the PlayStations, I forgot there ever was a WWF Raw - the SmackDown!'s were so much better. Raw's not a bad game, in fact it's even sort of entertaining, but all things considered, it was a huge step backwards by THQ. It's a sixth-generation game, it looks like one, but it plays out like it was released about five years earlier.

It's like sushi-raw

My character looks technically better than ever
before. Wish there'd be more options, though.
The graphics are excellent in comparison to every earlier WWF game, including the PlayStation titles. They really raised the bar here from every angle, although some models like those of Triple H and Jeff Hardy look downright ugly; long hair seems to be a common problem in itself, and sadly from this point of view, long hair was some sort of a fad at that time among professional wrestlers. Triple H looks like he has piggytails. The original soundtrack largely consists of generic and repetitive, but basically quite cool guitar rock, and some hectic techno stomp to balance it out. The audience makes no sound at all, and there's no commentary. During the matches, it feels like the game's muted and there's some MP3 playlist playing in the background. Detached and inconsistent is the best way to describe the game's audio policy.

The roster is the first stepping stone for us to come across. The game was released in February 2002, and apparently it was supposed to be released almost a year before. The roster's outdated and quite hastily put together all around. There are 39 male wrestlers, four Divas, and four unlockable characters in Vince, Shane and Stephanie McMahon, and... are you ready for this? Fred Durst. Yes, I'm very seriously talking about Limp Bizkit's Fred Durst. Apparently including him was THQ returning the favour to the band, for allowing the developers to use "Rollin'" as The Undertaker's theme song in the game. Whacked. Not as whacked as the game can be at its worst (or best?), though.

Some people complain about the blur effect,
I kind of like it.
Let's take a look at the create-a-superstar mode, first. This was actually the first game in which I even tried the editor, and back then, I was blown away by it. It was sooooo cool... until I realized that even earlier games in the WWF franchise indeed had more extensive editors. This game was originally released on the Xbox; it's kind of baffling that they really couldn't do better than this. You can choose from a respectable variety of accessories, hairstyles, facial models, body types, but you can't really extensively (or sensibly) customize any of them apart from changing colours. The game has the most believable entrances in the series up 'til its release, and the entrance editor is fairly comprehensive, but you can't preview your entrance, you must wait 'til your first match to realize your mistakes. However, since there's no Career Mode of any kind, I see no point in really working on my entrance. Which brings us to the match types and all the possible ways for you to take on WWF Raw. There aren't many.

It's time to play some other game!
The goal of this game is simple: to win EVERYTHING. Every championship belt, and become King of the Ring. Sounds easy, right? Well, it IS easy. Extremely easy. You see, attributes don't matter. Some wrestlers might be more resilient and aggressive than others, but there's no health or stamina meter. Instead, there's a "voltage meter", which is kind of like a momentum meter, but even if you keep using the same moves, it goes up for your benefit. In other words, you can keep punching the opponent until the meter flashes, deliver a Stone Cold Stunner, pin the opponent and the match is done, under one minute. You don't even need a finisher to win the match. Just reach a certain voltage limit, and the victory's yours. One thing that might make it a bit more difficult is the frustrating A.I.. The opponents are not as stupid as they look. They counter grapples easy as 1-2-3, when you on the other hand, have about a 30/70 success rate in counters - it's not about timing, it's about luck. Whenever you're grounded, the opponents have a tendency of kicking you for ages, they never even think about lifting you up for a finisher or anything. Whenever you're outside the ring, they do everything in their power to keep you there instead of expressing their desire to get the match over with.

Anyway, I wasn't supposed to talk about the A.I. and gameplay mechanics, I was supposed to talk about the goal of the game. So, again, your goal is to become King of the Ring and win each of the six championships in the game: the Hardcore title, the European title, the Intercontinental title, the WWF title, strangely the Light Heavyweight title even if you're playing as a super heavyweight, and even more strangely, the Women's title. You can imagine how hard it is for one to contain himself when the Big Show is congratulated for becoming the NEEEEEEW WWF Women's Champion. Yes, it's very much possible. You need to beat all Divas in the game to win the title, and it's perfectly irrelevant whether you're really using a female character or the biggest guy in the game. An embarrassing mistake or some sick inside joke? I don't even want to know.

Stone Cold Hammerblow!
There are absolutely no rules in the game by default. There are several match types, but they're all of the standard variety. There are no count-outs or disqualifications, so you can spend as much time outside the ring as you want, and beat the opponent with any weapon you can possibly grab. Different weapons are the unlockables of the game. There are no substantial rewards for finding all possible weapons, and using some of them just feels hella stupid - like beating someone down with a pair of sunglasses.

I hope you realize that WWF Raw isn't exactly an awful game, it's just damn incomplete. The developers didn't quite think all of it through, and it's more than a bit too simple. It's hard to comprehend a sixth-generation title missing out on features that had been present in wrestling games for years. I don't understand why the game was made, other than the sake of capitalism. But, like I said, it's semi-entertaining. At least it has decent controls - as long as you're using a pad instead of the keyboard - and some of its quirks are amusing rather than really distracting.

SOUND : 6.3


a.k.a. WWF Raw Is War, WWE Raw

GameRankings: 52.87% (PC), 64.92% (Xbox)

Actually, this PC version of the game is called WWE Raw, just as every copy of the original Xbox game printed since May, 2002. This is due to the World Wildlife Fund's famous lawsuit against the World Wrestling Federation over the use of the WWF abbreviation. In May, 2002, the World Wrestling Federation officially changed its name to World Wrestling Entertainment. However, the WWF logo is used in the actual content of every version of the game instead of the slightly different WWE logo.

The game was supposed to be an Xbox launch title, but its release was delayed by a total of four months, due to the developers being forced to "clean up" the game, for example by removing all blood effects from it.

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