Sep. 9, 2008
PS2, PS3, 360, Wii
First time, long time.
For years, wrestling video games had done the way of the NFL: exclusive. With all due love and respect to them, THQ has had the WWE license forever, and before that they had the WCW license. They’ve been it for video game wrestling.
Enter Total Nonstop Action Wrestling, a scrappy little league featuring Kurt Angle, Sting, Booker T and a bunch of other guys who are fun to watch but just didn’t see themselves fitting Vince McMahon’s mold.
Now we have Midway’s TNA Impact!, giving Total Nonstop Action its own home entertainment franchise. And it’s a very decent first attempt.
While the storyline and character portrayals don’t go nearly far enough in capturing the essence and attitudes of the veteran wrestling names and personalities, the actual arcade-style gameplay is easy to pick up and offers plenty of thrills, suplexes, bodyslams and high-flying maneuvers.
The game features 25 TNA fighters and several of the specificities that make TNA an interesting wrestling enterprise like the six-sized ring and the Ultimate X match, where wrestlers have to climb ropes to a goal at the top — much like a ladder match.
The graphics and character models are excellent. Even in-game animations and moves look fluid and well-detailed. Attacks land with lots of force and really sell themselves.
In a way, “Impact!” feels a lot like some of the older wrestling games like the old LJN console hits like WrestleMania Challenge and WWF Royal Rumble. Obviously it looks and sounds great, even by today’s standards, but the persona of the game is very much based in the fighting and the moves, combos and animations surrounding the actual fighting. This isn’t surprising to me, because Midway is the company of Mortal Kombat. Even their previous WWF title, WrestleMania: The Arcade Game was regarded as an almost pure fighting game.
That said, the game could use more drama and story injected into its core, but if you’re looking for simple, pick-up-and-go action, TNA Impact! is a good way to go.