Wrestlemania XIX Impressions

We took an early version of THQ's upcoming GameCube wrestling game for a test drive.

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We got a peek at the new Wrestlemania XIX game for the GameCube at THQ's E3 booth. One of the big new features added in this edition of Wrestlemania is location-specific damage. This feature allows you to focus attacks on your opponent's arm or leg, and the game will reflect this by causing the wrestler to hold his damaged arm or even to limp, if you've done enough damage to a leg. This adds a new layer of strategy as well, as doing an armbar to an opponent with a gimpy arm may cause him to tap out earlier than normal.

The game's story mode adds some role-playing elements to Wrestlemania XIX. As you go through the single-player game, you'll earn money that you can use at the shop zone to buy upgrades for your wrestler (strength, stamina, speed, and other attributes), as well as new costumes. The host of the shop zone is none other than the lovely Stacy Keibler of WWE fame.

THQ was also happy to point out that the old grapple system from No Mercy will return in Wrestlemania XIX, allowing players to do two kinds of grapples--weak and strong. Weak grapples let you do more quick-hitting moves by pressing in any direction and pressing A or B. The strong grapple maneuvers let you choose from eight different, harder-hitting moves. Counters using the R and L buttons are also present in the game--one button is for countering strikes and another is for breaking out of grapples.

Presentation has also been a point of emphasis in XIX. Each wrestler in the game gets his own special entrance video, complete with music and movies playing in the background as you make your way into the arena. We watched as Hollywood Hogan entered with Hendrix tunes announcing his presence.

Finally Wrestlemania XIX will include blood, a feature which was nixed from the last version of the game. With up to four player multiplayer capability, Wrestlemania XIX's improved features should make it an attractive game for GameCube wrestling fans when it's released this fall. We'll have more information on Wrestlemania XIX as it becomes available.

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