Professional wrestling is huge. People who cut their teeth on the Rock and Wrestling era of the WWF are returning in droves, and the industry is doing better than it ever has before. Games based on wrestling have progressed through the years, and while WWF War Zone plays similarly to its predecessors, it presents a package that is completely unmatched in both gameplay and in atmosphere.
Most of the WWF's biggest stars are represented, including Steve Austin, the Undertaker, Kane, Mankind, the Rock, Triple H, and Ken Shamrock. Since the beginning of the game's development, Bret Hart, Ahmed Johnson, and the British Bulldog have left the WWF, but they remain in the game. A few hidden wrestlers are also in the game, most notably Mankind's other personalities, Dude Love and Cactus Jack.
There are several different modes in War Zone. The challenge mode is the game's main mode, putting your wrestler in a quest to win the championship belt. Along the way you'll be challenged to grudge matches by the wrestlers you've wronged during your career. These grudge matches come in the form of the game's two other modes. Weapons matches are falls-anywhere, no-rules kinds of matches, where smacking your opponent with a two-by-four and suplexing him onto a table are the order of the day. The cage match forces you to beat your opponent, then climb out of the cage while he's too dazed to do anything about it. Once you've won the belt in challenge mode, the game continues with you defending the belt against various challengers. There is also a really good tag-team mode that contains most of the four-man action from the real thing. Multiplayer modes include a free-for-all, cooperative cage matches, and tornado mode. There is also a comprehensive training mode, but it isn't as useful as the manual would have you believe.
War Zone plays, essentially, like every other wrestling game out there. But the control has been refined to a point of perfection, and a complicated tie-up system keeps people from doing cheap, low-damage moves over and over again. The game controls very tightly, and while you will do some button mashing to break holds and pins, it is kept to a minimum.
The graphics in War Zone are better than any other PlayStation wrestling game. Some of the characters (the Undertaker, for instance) look eerily like their real-life counterparts, although a few of the faces look a little weird. The sound effects are really good - all the grunts and screams were recorded by the real wrestlers. Also, all of the entrance music is in the game, although you only get to hear a few seconds of it during the game's lackluster ring introduction sequence. You can, however, head to the biography section if you feel the need to hear any of the music in its entirety. The two-man announce team of Vince McMahon and Jim Ross is good, but it sometimes gets a little bit behind the action. Also, there are only a couple of different sayings for the signature moves, meaning that you'll be hearing Jim Ross shout "Stone Cold Stunner! Stone Cold Stunner!" quite a lot during the course of the game.
WWF War Zone is long on gameplay and has a lot of atmosphere. However, it really could have used a little more atmosphere. The ring introductions are extremely short, and the cutscenes in challenge mode (all of which feature a really bad-looking polygonal woman and a limousine) are just plain stupid. The grudge match challenge clips are decent, but their lack of specific taunts makes them seem a little flat. Still, this is best wrestling package ever released and shouldn't be missed by anyone with even a passing interest in wrestling.