sunnuntai 20. maaliskuuta 2011

REVIEW - WWF WrestleMania 2000 (1999)

GENRE(S): Sports / Fighting
RELEASED: October 1999

DEVELOPER(S): Natsume (GB), Aki Corporation
PUBLISHER(S): THQ, Asmik Ace Entertainment

Acclaim Entertainment and the WWF had had a long run. It started back in 1989 with the release of WWF WrestleMania on the Nintendo Entertainment System, and since then, Acclaim had produced several titles for the Super Nintendo, Game Boy, Sega Master System, Sega Genesis, Game Gear, Sega Saturn, Sega Dreamcast, Sony PlayStation and Nintendo 64 with moderate to formidable success. However, something got the attention of the WWF merchandisers: the WWF's competitor WCW was actually doing a lot better when it came to video game sales. Their games were notably more advanced and they sold like bread. WCW/NWO Revenge was the best-selling wrestling game on the Nintendo 64. Critics praised the highly advanced game while WWF Attitude, for example, was noted as being all right, but not really more than a heavy update of its predecessor, WWF War Zone. It was time for the WWF to sever its ties with Acclaim and hire the people that made Revenge. Just a few months after the release of WWF Attitude, came THQ's first video game collaboration with the World Wrestling Federation - the point of no return. WWF WrestleMania 2000 rebooted the WWF video game franchise and already showed the first signs of the masterpieces to come.

The dawn of a new era

The graphics can't really be described with just one word. The wrestlers' faces look horrible. They look more like caricatures, and their bodies are of the "Ballz" variety of bunches of polygons. On the other hand, they have great dynamics. The mo-caps are amazingly precise considering the time, there's a lot happening on the screen, and the game is huge in size in comparison to any other WWF game that came before, so it doesn't really matter how it looks like on the surface - the game is way more playable and lasts longer than any earlier game related to the subject at hand. Commentary has been replaced with background music, which sounds sufficient enough, and the horrible voiceovers which plagued the previous game have been cut out completely.

Prince Albert is quite recognizable, but who's
that other guy? Jeff Hardy. Isn't it obvious? No.
There are 41 superstars on the standard roster, which is very even between company executives, high-profile icons, mid-carders and nicely put, low-profile wrestlers - read: jobbers. Chris Jericho, Matt and Jeff Hardy, and the Big Show make their long-anticipated debuts in a WWF game, rarely leaving the franchise from this point forward - got to wonder where the hell Kurt Angle is, though!? In addition, there are six female superstars (commonly known as WWF Divas), three legends and a total of seven unlockable, secret wrestlers once again including Shawn Michaels, Cactus Jack, Dude Love, Paul Bearer and Jerry "The King" Lawler. That's a roster of fifty-fuckin'-seven people, whole tens more than in any previous WWF game. Of course, you can still create your own wrestler if the roster's not to your liking or you want to engage in a bit of role-playing. However, this time you can't even edit a temporary character for you to use during one single session without a Controller Pak. There's simply not enough RAM to go around.

In addition to being able to create your own superstar, you can also create your own moveset for him instead of simply choosing one from the list, create your own championship, create your own pay-per-view, and even edit each and every existing superstar to your liking. You want The Undertaker to have pink pants? I don't know if that's possible, but I wouldn't be surprised if it was - I haven't dared to try. WWF WrestleMania 2000 is such a customizable game, but it isn't even its best quality. Its best quality lies in the game itself - it introduced so many features the WWF/E experience wouldn't be the same without in this day and age.

See the resemblance now? No. Does it matter?
As long as the game's this playable, no.
First up, Career Mode. You're thrown in a 12-month circle of realistic WWF programming starting right after WrestleMania XV, with the goal of becoming the top dog of the business, come WrestleMania 2000. Now it doesn't matter if you use, say, Steve Blackman, or Stone Cold Steve Austin, you always start from the same point. You need to work your way up the ladder, you can't just rush after the biggest prize. You can play through all the extensive shows if you want, using any wrestlers involved in the matches, but the only matches that make difference to your progress are the ones you have using the superstar you chose. There are rivalries, but no branching storylines, the mode's extremely linear, and you have to unrealistically defend every single championship you have whenever there's a pay-per-view, but this is a sufficient start to something that became the butter on the wrestling genre's bread.

The Rock 'n' Sock Connection vs. Too Much.
Not too epic, but every career has a beginning.
The amount of available arenas and match types (including a highly advanced version of the cage match) is quite sufficient as well, considering the size of the game. The King of the Ring tournament and the Royal Rumble match are still in as separate entities from the rest of the game, if you don't feel like engaging in a million simple exhibition matches, and don't quite get the joys of the Career Mode either. The controls are simplified, and much, much, better than they were in the previous Nintendo 64 titles. The downsides... well, this time you must use the digital pad. The analog stick is used only for taunting opponents. Also, general movement is very slow, regardless whether you're playing as the Big Show or Jeff Hardy. But, the most important thing is that the basic controls are easy to learn even for a casual player, and a variety of different moves is comfortable and easy to execute. To put it simply, WWF WrestleMania 2000 is fun to play, even in spite of a few flaws. It's so much better from most angles than the two Nintendo 64 titles that came before it.

WWF WrestleMania 2000 offers up an extensive video game experience from the golden era of professional wrestling. Maybe not the golden era of video games, but even as a Nintendo 64 title, even after all the games that have come, seen and conquered in the more recent years, it's capable of leaving some sort of mark. It was definitely the dawn of a whole new era for this marginal genre, and the first real standard of it.

SOUND : 8.1


GameRankings: 63.62% (GB), 84.55% (N64)

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