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WCW Nitro (PSX) Review

Publisher: THQ
Date Release: 11/5/98

Background Info

Wrestling, (or wrasslin') is like a soap opera starring greasy fat men, and WCW Nitro (sequel to WCW vs The World) fails to convey of "pro" wrestling. This game smells like a rushed job, and could have been much better, with a little (ok...a lot of) tweaking.

Presentation/Graphics : 75
This is one strong area of WCW Nitro. The characters are photo-realistic, and the graphics are clean and crisp. Also, size differences do show on screen. If one of the smaller wrestlers takes on the "Giant," the foot or so difference in height shows. The backgrounds are varied, with added touches like the announcer's desk and a video screen showing the action going on in the ring, and the ring itself is well drawn. The video clips, showing wrestling "action" are fast paced, and the wrestler "rants" are melodramatically hilarious, with the 16 main wrestlers showcasing their overacting skills. The hidden wrestlers are also well animated, with giant bees, bears and even computer programmers ready to duke it out. However, while all these programmers are fun to control, why are there no steel chairs? Where are the bats and "illegal" objects that wrestlers use on TV? I guess that the programmers would rather have themselves in the game, than add some game value. Unfortunately, the choppiness and slowdown of the graphics can get horrible, (mainly when more than 2 wrestlers are in the ring) which takes away from the overall graphical impression (see: Gameplay).

Presentation/Audio : 76
Decent job done here. The sound effects are typical. Grunts, groans, cracking of bone, and shredding of sinew. For some reason, they are still uninspired and muted. A nice touch would have been individual theme music, audio taunts (in game) and introductions, but that didn't make it in. Commentary is limited to the naming of moves, and the exclamation "It's a surprise attack!" as if it had never happened before. The music is uninteresting, but not distracting.

Interface/Options : 90
This is by far WCW Nitro's best area, which isn't saying much (if you're gonna make the interface so good, why not work on the actual game?). All menus are easy to navigate, find and use. Saving to a memory card takes about 1 second, and only occupies 1 block. The best feature is the custom controller, which is sadly absent in most games, but if you can find a configuration you like, you'll have to translate all the moves to the new buttons (ex: s/x= power bomb becomes t/o). There is no Dual Analogue controller support, but it is debatable whether that would make much of a difference. Great job on the interface, guys! Now go work on the game!

Gameplay : 68
Arguably the most important part of a game, gameplay can make up for poor graphics, bad sound and horrible interface. If a game is truly easy to control, and fun to play, then the few hassles aren't a big deal. Well, WCW Nitro has some of those little hassles, and no gameplay to make up for it. Characters move around the ring slowly, taking little stutter steps. Moves look awkward when performed. One of my pet peeves, which is going to be alleviated in the upcoming WWF Warzone, is the differences in strength, speed, etc between wrestlers. In one match, I was the aforementioned "Giant," all 7-4, 500lbs of him. Suddenly, there was a surprise attack (one of the few innovative parts of the select, and another character rushes in to help you...of course causing disgusting, choppy slowdown...). The surprise attacker was a woman, probably not an ounce over 100lbs, and she succeeded in body slamming, pile-driving, and suplexing the Giant. A decent idea is that of a taunt. Each of the wrestlers (hidden and otherwise) have a taunt, which, while adding insult to injury, recoups their energy. One thing that bothered me about the game is the lack of depth. Sure, wrestling doesn't have much depth, but you'd think the slight amount there is could make it into the game. This is shown in the match options. 1P tournament for the championship belt, 1P exhibition, 2P vs., 1P exhibition tag team, and 2P exhibition tag team. So, what's missing? Co-operative matches. The 2P mode is only versus. There are no cage matches, weapons, Tag-team championships, royal rumbles, etc, which all adds to lack of depth, and creates a major lack of replay value. If the wrestling games on the NES, Genesis and Gameboy can have some or all of these options in, why not the PSX? Small annoyances are the fact that you can use huge power moves at any time, there are no weapons at all, and if you drop a combatant on his head, on the concrete below the ring, he'll jump up like it was a trampoline. Finally, the use and implementation of moves is a mixed bag. In a way, I like the "timing" style, much like SF2/MK, where a combination of button presses enables a move, and the quickest player wins. That is what Nitro uses. However, that differs immensely from the usual wrestling game, where a grappling system is used. The grappling system is basically who can press a button the fastest for the longest, to win a clutch and perform a move. I'm a bit middle of the road on this, because I always hated the "fastest button" gameplay style, and how you'd truly need a turbo controller to win the more difficult matches, but I don't know if I like the combo method much more, as it can be quite fickle. As in I think -- no -- I know, I got a move off, but I end up being face-planted. The decision between "quickest combo pusher" and "fastest button jammer" is hard, and I'm still in the middle. Overall, the gameplay is very, very disappointing in WCW Nitro, and should have been much better.

Difficulty : 66
This is WCW Nitro's second poorest area, after gameplay (unfortunately for WCW Nitro, gameplay and difficulty can be seen as the most important aspects of a game). I really couldn't tell if there was a big difference between the "Easy," "Normal," and "Hard" matches. Most of the time, a low difficulty rating for a game is saved with the 2-player mode. Everyone knows that sports games are the most fun 2-player. Well, 2-player does make WCW Nitro slightly more fun, but the lack of 2-player options doesn't make up for the overall absence of difficulty. Admittedly, matches are harder on Hard than they are on Normal, particularly if the other wrestler gets on a roll, but for the most part, if you use your "Sneak Attack" properly, you should win most matches after about the 10th match you participate in...and that's not very good.

Overall : 75
This is a problem that plagues the Playstation. Rushed games. Games that, with a little time, and a little effort, could have been much better. THQ is almost out of time with their WCW license, and are understandably making as much money as quickly as they can, but it really screws PSX gamers over...maybe I should buy an N64...nah.

By: Cory M. 7/8/98

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