WrestleMania XIX Review
Though WrestleMania XIX is a definite improvement over its predecessor, the game's few graphical hang-ups and detrimentally bad story mode ultimately mar what could have been a great game.
Last year's WrestleMania X8, the first-ever wrestling game to find its way to the GameCube, was met with mostly mixed reactions. THQ opted to go with the developer of its SmackDown franchise, Yuke's, rather than longtime N64 wrestling developer Aki. The result was a game that effectively mixed together elements of both companies' games, and while it was fun for the most part, it lacked the depth and polish of THQ's other WWE titles. A year later, we have WrestleMania XIX, the follow-up to WrestleMania X8, and while the game does fix a number of the gameplay flaws found in its predecessor, it still lacks the polish of its counterparts and has some fairly serious problems that unfortunately hold it back from its full potential.
For the most part, WrestleMania XIX contains the same style of gameplay as WrestleMania X8, but with some notable differences. For starters, the grappling system in the game is much more like the Aki style of grappling, with strong and weak grappling moves executed depending on how long you hold down the grapple button. The move you perform both in grappling and striking corresponds to the direction you're holding on the control stick. There is also a run button as well as a pickup button to go along with the basic controls. Taunts are performed using the directional pad, and the right and left triggers dodge strikes and grapples respectively.
Since this gameplay system is modeled after the Aki engine, the pacing of the game is similar as well. Whereas in the SmackDown series, the gameplay is often fast and feverish, WrestleMania XIX is far more leisurely paced and methodical. The action does feel a bit faster than last year's game, but only by a small margin. Overall, the gameplay feels far less repetitive than WrestleMania X8, as there are several more moves to choose from for each wrestler. The countering system, however, is still as unforgiving as ever, and you'll have to be extremely precise in your timing if you want to block or reverse your opponent's attacks.
Another Aki-inspired component introduced into the WrestleMania series this year is the concept of location-specific damage. Submission holds and attacks to specific regions of the body do progressively more damage the more you focus on an area. Repeated attacks to the head, body, legs, and arms will eventually cause your opponents to become visibly injured in that area and will make them prone to tapping out if further damage is done there. This definitely creates an air of realism in the game that was missing from X8, and it adds some nice depth to the gameplay system.
For all these changes, though, one factor that has remained largely untouched is the game's tough (and cheap) artificial intelligence. Multiwrestler matches, like triple-threat and fatal four-way matches, can be an extreme pain at times, because opponents will frequently gang up on you. In cage and ladder matches, it seems as though the AI characters are no longer quite as bad about unfairly shaking you off the cage after you've beaten them down, though sometimes this is for the worse, because in some infrequent cases, we noticed the AI-controlled characters were just standing idly by while an opposing player climbed up a ladder to grab the belt dangling from the ceiling.
The game's handling of special moves and momentum hasn't changed a lot. Momentum is still a key factor in how you play the game, and a player with high momentum will find it much easier to stave off attacks, climb cages, scurry up a ladder, or perform any other necessary task. If you've taken an extended beating, however, and your momentum meter has dropped, you'll have an uphill battle ahead of you. Special moves are still attained by a meter that progressively builds each time you perform a move against an opponent, and once the meter is full, you'll be able to enter your special state by pressing the strike and grapple buttons at the same time. Once you're in the special state, simply press the strike and grapple buttons simultaneously in the position required to perform the move. Specials can be performed from practically any position--for example, The Rock's "The People's Elbow" attack is performed by standing over the opponent's head while he's down, whereas his "Rock Bottom" move is executed from a standing front grapple.
WrestleMania XIX contains all of the industry-standard match types, including single, tag, triple-threat, fatal four-way, handicap, and royal rumble matches. All of these matches have varying types (except for the royal rumble), including normal, hardcore, ladder, table, TLC, ironman, cage, and hell in a cell matches, and they're all basically the same as WrestleMania X8's match types, with all the same mechanics and rules. There is also a separate king-of-the-ring mode, which allows you to design an elimination tournament with 4 to 16 wrestlers, with either single or tag rules and nontitle or title stipulations, with the WWE championship, world heavyweight championship, WWE tag team championship, and world tag team championship titles up for grabs. Additionally, the game contains a tutorial, hosted by Tough Enough head coach Al Snow, that teaches you the game's basic gameplay mechanics.
The biggest game mode addition to WrestleMania XIX is its story mode. Simply titled "revenge," the mode is far different from your average wrestling story mode, since practically none of it takes place inside the ring. As the story opens, your chosen wrestler is being escorted out of a WWE arena by two security guards, who explain that you've been fired from the WWE by Mr. McMahon and that you're not to ever show your face at a WWE event again. After being tossed out the door, you're immediately approached by Stephanie McMahon, who offers you a contract requiring you to perform certain services that will exact revenge on Mr. McMahon.
Essentially, your ultimate goal in revenge is to create chaos, and eventually ruin Wrestlemania. The mode has four levels, with six missions apiece. These levels range from the arena construction site, to an outdoor parking lot, and even a shopping mall. Examples of some of the missions you'll have to undertake include destruction missions, where your entire goal is to wander around, beating up cars and signs; objective missions, where you'll have to find a certain object or area of a level, and fight your way to it; and simple beat-'em-up missions, where you have to eliminate a series of security guards, and other blue-collar employees of Mr. McMahon.
- Player Reviews: 24
- Game Universe:
- WWF Raw (XBOX, 32X, GB, GG, SNES, GEN),
- WWE Crush Hour (GC, XBOX, PS2),
- WWF Royal Rumble (GEN, SNES, DC),
- WWF War Zone (N64, PS, GB),
- WWF Attitude (DC, GBC, N64, PS),
- WWF European Rampage Tour (AMI, C64),
- WWF In Your House (PC, PS, SAT),
- WWF Super Wrestlemania (GEN, SNES),
- WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006 (PSP, PS2),
- WWF King of the Ring (GB, NES)
- Offline Modes:
- Number of Players: