So first off let me say that I have been away from the wrestling genre for a few years now because after years of playing Smackdown and hundreds of ours of matches I started to feel like the whole franchise was becoming stagnant. Without the competition of the WCW, Smackdown vs Raw started to become just another yearly release that wasn’t that much different from the last one save a few new features. Then along comes TNA and after watching the commercials and some of the gameplay video I thought to myself well, maybe, just maybe this could be an actually innovative addition to the wrestling genre, I was wrong.
The first thing you will notice is that TNA Impact! takes about 20 minutes to install and for what you get that isn’t acceptable. The game has a few different match types (including Ultimate X), story, and an online mode. One of the major failures of this game is the ridiculous load times, I mean after an install that long you would think the performance would be better but it is not. You spend much more time waiting for matches to load than actually playing them.
So as the story mode goes, the concept isn’t bad. You are a wrestler named Suicide who after going against the powers to be and not throwing a title match, you are beaten to a pulp and left for dead in an alley in Tijuana. Most of the bones in your body have been broken and you have been beaten beyond recognition and two plastic surgeons offer to rebuild you and this is your first introduction into the Create A Player feature. The CAP is limited at best so for those of you thinking that you can do the kind of things you do on SVR, think again. However, with a little time and patience you can make some decent looking guys, though there are only five save slots for created wrestlers so go figure. After you create your player you start your journey back to the top of the wrestling, which you have an unexplainable urge to do and you can’t figure out why seeing as you also don’t remember who you are. The voice work in story mode is excellent and helps create a persona of a guy that you want to route for. Then the problem comes, you actually have to wrestle.
Kurt looks angry, could it be because this game is so terrible?
The gameplay leaves a lot to be desired. The controls are nowhere near as fluid and intuitive as SVR. Starting out you will have a generic moveset until you unlock more moves which could take a while, a long while to actually unlock all the moves. There are no grapples from the back, so any grapple you do will cause him to turn him around first before he does a move, its annoying after a while. The button combination for the grapple is also confusing when compared to another button combination and more times than not you end up doing one when you wanted to do the other, its hard to explain but play it and you will understand what I mean. The graphics are great, though I was really disappointed that the intros were so short, they barely come down the ramp. The reversal mechanism is smart but inexact. They say that if you time it right you can link multiple reversals together all in one fluid animation but I have yet to pull that off. The computer on the other hand is a modern-day reversal machine, pulling off reversal after reversal. Impact! uses the Unreal engine which gives it a whole lot of power yet it fails to harness even a third of that.
The most frustrating part is just the complete lack of intuitiveness of this title, the button commands just don’t lend themselves to being easy to learn. I understand that they wanted to make themselves different from SVR but different is not always better and in this case definitely not. Another disappoint is that anytime you make a change to a created wrestler and save them, I don’t know what it does but it literally takes minutes to save him, absolutely agonizing. I don’t know who was responsible for the saving and loading mechanics on this title but they failed miserably.
Don’t be fooled because this game looks good..It plays terrible.
Now if you read ZKG often you know that I am never usually this harsh on titles, but I always call them how I see them. TNA Impact! had the opportunity to really shake up this genre and missed the mark by a mile. This game fails to capture any of the innovation, creativity, or energy that makes TNA wrestling so much fun to watch. I mean honestly, I didn’t have really high hopes for this game, I expected them to have a ways to go but to at least have a few innovative features, but I found none. I know that SVR has been around a long time and has had plenty of time to refine itself but I mean I played better wrestling games than this on Nintendo 64. The best thing I can say about this game is it looks great but it should. I don’t even think they put a lot of effort into making the wrestler’s individual characteristics that much different because if you put Triple H up against a some lower wrestler on SVR, you would have a difficult job damaging and beating him but not so with TNA. I put Kurt Angle in the ring with Sharkboy and in short order he had Angle’s body red and had hit me with his finisher of which I was not able to kick out of. On what planet does that happen?
In the end, TNA Impact! is fun for all of about 30 minutes, 15 of which you will spend watching loading screens. This is definitely a rent folks, and not one you need to rush out and rent either. I was just trying to fill the time until next Tuesday when Star Wars: The Force Unleashed hits stores but this game couldn’t even do that but hey more game credit towards Star Wars. I give TNA Impact! 2.5 out of 5 stars.