Extreme Championship Wrestling is an East Coast-based wrestling organization that uses "extreme" wrestling matches as a way to distinguish itself from the slightly more kid-friendly WWF and WCW. Good ECW matches contain all sorts of mayhem that you'd never see on a more straitlaced wrestling program - from people being tossed through mountains of tables, to barbed-wire matches. Any rules you might be used to from watching safer wrestling shows have been thrown out the window. ECW may not have the big names or the big budgets of a WWF or a WCW, but it's got many talented wrestlers and a unique, interesting product. Acclaim's ECW Hardcore Revolution, however, contains none of this.
Remember Acclaim's last wrestling game, WWF Attitude? ECW Hardcore Revolution is, at its core, Attitude with different wrestlers and different sound effects, with a couple of new modes and moves (mostly finishers) tossed in to help make you forget that you've already played this game. But because the the gameplay is nearly identical to Attitude, it's impossible to shake the feeling that you've played this game before. None of the "extreme" elements that made ECW as popular as it is are present. Any finisher that requires an object of any kind (Rob Van Dam's Vamdaminator, for instance) isn't in the game. You won't see anyone flying off the top rope out into the crowd area here. The only "extreme" differences between this game and Attitude are that this game plays slightly faster, it has slightly cleaner graphics, it's easier to toss someone out of the ring, the language is slightly dirtier, and there's a barbed-wire match, in which the ring ropes turn into some horrible-looking barbed wire. Trying to bounce off the wire makes you fall over in pain.
For those of you unfamiliar with WWF Attitude, it uses a balanced gameplay system of grappling and reversals that keep you from relying on the same easy moves over and over again. Basically, you want to pull off a few easy moves, including punches and kicks, to swing the match's advantage in your favor. Once your advantage light is fully lit, it's significantly easier to execute grapple moves. If you don't have the advantage, harder moves will usually be blocked or reversed by your opponent. As you wear your opponent's health bar down, you'll eventually be able to perform your wrestler's finishing move. ECW works in the exact same way, right down to identical life bars.
Graphically, the game has been bumped a notch above Attitude. The characters are more colorful, as are the arenas. The sound is also good, though it's still chock-full of lame phrases from the crowd. The announcing seems more accurate, mostly because Joey Styles, the voice of ECW, works alone, so there's less speech to match up with the action. However, Joey occasionally refers to the wrestlers as "player one" and "player two," which is a little annoying and pretty unnecessary unless you're playing as a created wrestler.
ECW Hardcore Revolution isn't a bad game by itself. But it in no way represents the style of wrestling that the ECW uses. It has absolutely zero points going for it in the originality department, and the game comes off as a real slap in the face to the federation's hard-core fans. ECW and its fans deserve better than this cookie-cutter approach to game design. ECW's wrestling style isn't the same as the WWF's, and ECW's game shouldn't be like the WWF's either. Plus, this is the third year that Acclaim has trotted out the same wrestling engine with a few slight tweaks. It's getting very old. Fans of ECW would be better served by waiting for Acclaim's next ECW game, which will use a new (and hopefully more accurate) engine.