Wrestlemania XIX impressions

We check out THQ's latest WWE wrestling game for the GameCube.

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At a recent Nintendo press event, we had a chance to check out a new build of THQ's upcoming WWE wrestling game for the GameCube, Wrestlemania XIX. For the most part, it appears the developers have heeded the complaints leveled at Wrestlemania X8, as the series' grappling system is now much more dynamic and there are more gameplay modes available. In addition, there's a full-fledged story mode that places you in control of a wrestler attempting to prevent Wrestlemania from happening so that Vince McMahon will lose outrageous amounts of money and be forced to sell the company to Stephanie McMahon. To accomplish such a feat, you'll have to venture into malls to destroy stores that sell WWE merchandise and even travel to the harbor to prevent WWE-related materials from making it onto shore. It's certainly not the typical story mode, and it offers an interesting change of pace from the basic gameplay found in other parts of the game.

That being said, Wrestlemania XIX still offers all the traditional modes. There are single matches, tag matches, triple-threat matches, fatal four way matches, handicap matches, and the royal rumbles. Most of these match types can be modified with various types of stipulations or rule sets such as normal, hardcore, ladder, table, TLC (tables, ladders, and chairs), cage, hell in a cell, and iron man. There's also a separate king of the ring mode, which is structured like the WWE tournament of the same name.

Wrestlemania XIX has a few other modes to offer as well. There's a tutorial option where Al Snow will run down the basics of the gameplay mechanics, as well as a create-a-superstar area where you can create a unique wrestler. Lastly, there's a store where you can buy additional items for the create-a-superstar mode and even purchase additional points to increase your wrestler's abilities in certain areas.

As previously mentioned, the grappling system and general gameplay mechanics of Wrestlemania X8 have been significantly expanded upon. The gameplay system now features a locational damage system, so if you repeatedly attack an opponent's right leg, there's a higher chance that he or she will submit if you execute a submission move on that particular limb. Likewise, if you repeatedly attack an opponent's head, there's a greater chance he or she will get knocked out. This system also ties into the ground attack system, which lets you execute a variety of moves (depending on your location) when your opponent is on the ground. The grappling system now consists of strong and weak grapples. Weak grapples are faster but generally weaker, while strong grapples are slow but inflict much more damage. Over the course of a match, executing moves gradually fills a meter just underneath your wrestler's name. Once this meter is full, you can execute your wrestler's finishing maneuver by pressing both A and B at the same time on the GameCube controller. Some wrestlers will have more than one finishing move, such as Goldberg, who has both the spear and the jackhammer.

Wrestlemania XIX is currently scheduled for release in September.

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