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WWF Warzone (N64) Review

Publisher: Acclaim
Release Date: August 1999

Background Info

Partially due to the increasing popularity of professional wrestling and partially due to a lack of great titles for the N64, many gamers have kept a very close eye on the developments and eventual release of WWF Warzone. Now that it has finally been released and is available in most cities, questions have surfaced as to whether or not it lives up to the hype. The most common response has been an enthusiastic "Oh, hell yeah!"

Presentation/Graphics : 95
By far the strongest aspect of the title is the astounding graphics. Even skeptics of the game concede that the graphics are top notch and far outshine the competition, namely WCW vs. NWO World Tour. Warzone has a very realistic look to it and the motion captured wrestlers are unsurpassed in quality. The framerate is a constant 30 frames per second, even with four men in the ring at once. This translates to fast, fluid graphics with no polygon popup which plagues lower quality games. Great care was taken to ensure that all wrestlers in the game, including the created players, look realistic. The variety of clothes, styles, and accessories are noticeable and well rendered. As an added bonus, if you beat the Challenge on normal difficulty, you get an increased selection of outfits to chose from. The arena looks great, and with the steel cage is even more impressive. Warzone runs in medium resolution mode, and with the exception of the cut scenes, everything looks great. There is a small debate over which version has the better graphics, but either way, both are excellent and make the most of the console technology. Warzone sets a high standard for future wrestling games which will be tough for WCW/NWO Revenge to match.

Presentation/Audio : 86
Altough the N64 is greatly restricted in terms of sound possibilities (compared to the psx anyways), Warzone delivers quality sound in the key areas. The most common criticizm I have heard has been "Steve Austin's theme music sucks." In all honesty, this is a fair comment; however, the crowd noise is excellent. While lacking in variety, commentators Vince McMahon and Jim Ross (JR) offer clear and appropriate commentary throughout the match. As the theme music is only heard for a few seconds before each match, I would gladly sacrifice it for better crowd noise and commentary. The crowning touch is the wrestler taunts. Steve Austin will shout catch phrases, "Don't take this ass whoopin' personally, son," and each wrestler has their own unique taunt. If a player continually uses the same move with no variety, the crowd will boo them and the other player will be strengthened by the fan support. It is creativity over quantity which makes Warzone a great game in the audio department.

Interface/Options : 88
The interface is comprehensible, if not entirely innovative. Without reading the instruction manual, you can easily find what you're looking for without effort, with the possible exception of the multi-player mode. The menus and wrestler selection are very basic and, fortunately, the create a player option is easy to navigate, although it will take awhile to use due to the the wide selection of options and outfits.

Gameplay : 88
Warzone shows a lot of innovation in the gameplay, utilizing a button sequence requiring players to memorize moves before they can be performed. The good things about this system is that it rewards the players who invest the time to learn moves, and will enable them to ultimately prevail over the button-mashers. Most moves are relatively easy to execute and don't require a long sequence of buttons. For example, depending on the wrestler, pushing left, left, and B will result in a fairly punishing manouver. Each wrestling has one finishing move, which take a little longer to learn. For example, Owen Hart's sharpshooter can be preformed by pushing left, left, up, Kick and block while at the feet of a fallen opponent. With a little practice, anybody can grasp it, even if results in a little frustration early on. The wrestlers move at a good pace, and the control is very precise. However, I strongly recommend using the directional pad over the analog stick, as the control is a little tighter for the pad. It is also a little easier to preform moves; however, for those who really like the analog stick, don't let me stand in your way. The sheer variety of moves (about 60 for each wrestler) is enough to keep gamers coming back for more and really adds to the depth of the game and the replay value. One thing that could present a small problem is the camera angle. If you are not facing your opponent, you could miss with punches, while he is hiting you. To face the correct opponent, press the up C button which will toggle between the opponents. This of course only effects matches with 3 or 4 players in the ring at once. After a few games, switching the angle becomes a greater positive than a flaw. What is also very impressive about WWF Warzone is the variety of matches. Although the speculated Ladder match never materialized, there is still the choice between: Challenge (a full circuit to win and then defend a belt), versus match (self-explanatory), tag-team match, tornado match (a tag-team, but with all four players in the ring at once), a cage match (whoever escapes first wins), a gauntlet (player must face six wrestlers, one after the other while your energy does not recharge after each victory),the weapons match (a versus match with weapons both in the ring and outside it), and my personal favorite-- the Royal Rumble. The Royal Rumble uses a slightly different approach because if the player you are controlling is eliminated, you will get to take control of the next fighter to enter the ring if there are any left. All these modes are interesting and true to the WWF style. The create a player option is in a league of its own and deserves special recognition. Player customize everything from the face, weight, hair, tattoos, shirts, shorts, boots, name, attributes, moves, personality and even them music. This is where the true replay value lies as unending combinations can be used to attempt to create the ultimate fighter. Starting with 25 points to be dispersed through the categories of: strength, toughness, speed, recovery, and charisma. By beating the challenge, Royal Rumble, weapons match, cage match, and versus match on hard setting, this can extend the number of points available to 40. Each category is out of a maximum 10, so you have to really earn attribute points or you may find yourself on the receiving end of the Stone Cold Stunner.

Difficulty: 83
As with most games, the easy setting is really, really easy. Even the younger gamers will consistently win tie-up and will play without fear of being hit with the dreaded Tombstone Piledriver. On medium difficulty, the real fun begins. The computer player will win a lot of tie-ups and players will often need to rely on their speed or their ability to execute powerful moves before the computer can tie them up. If you get tired of the computer's love of blocking, I suggest you train like mad and beat the Challenge on normal with Ken Shamrock. This will allow you to disable blocking which really adds to the realism. However with blocking disabled, the game becomes easier and should be put to hard difficulty. Hard should challenge even the most experienced gamers for quite awhile which will add to the game's lifespan.

Overall : 88
Overall, this is probably the best N64 game of the summer, and definitely worth purchasing. Though fighting games are not my strength, I really enjoy this one, and found the inevitable investment of time to learn the moves well worth it. The create a player feature is brilliant, making Warzone essential for all WWF fans. At the risk of getting a ton of e-mails from angry Stone Cold Steve Austin fans, I'll admit my favorite wrestlers in the game are Bret and Owen Hart, though you could probably customize a wrestler who has the advantages of both. Unless you are a die-hard WCW fan, I wouldn't hold your breath waiting for WCW/NWO Revenge as Warzone has all the makings of a great fighting game and is readily available.

By: Dave T. 8/19/98

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