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by THQ

dudleyz_02.jpg (7488 bytes)Recently the WWF dropped the "F" in their moniker and replaced it with an "E". Doing so, they are marking their transition from being a pseudo sport federation to a pure entertainment company. Not long after the name change the first WWE game has been released for the GameCube. When the N64 was alive and kicking, numerous WWF games such as No Mercy found their way to Nintendo. THQ has mixed the aforementioned No Mercy with Playstation’s Smackdown for the fundamentals to Wrestlemania X8. After playing this game it seems that more than just the "F" should have been dropped from the WW.

Hurricane.jpg (7577 bytes)Automatically you will notice that there is absolutely no career mode. Instead there is a tournament you must go through in order to win a belt. Each win brings you one more rung up to the championship. Beat the champion, you will not only win the belt, but unlock a hidden wrestler as well. Six belts mean six wrestlers will be unlocked. Don't like the belts that the WWE has designed? Now you can design your own belt and then put it up against a friend. Up to forty belts can be acquired. This is a throwback to the games on the N64. It’s a unique twist to a wrestling game; it’s just not a feature to make up for the problems.

hogan_05.jpg (7722 bytes)You and three friends can play one of the many matches available on Wrestlemania X8. Ranging from the simple one on one contest to the extreme fatal four ways in the hell in a cell, X8 offers every style of match that you will find in the actual TV broadcast. The Rock, HHH, and the Undertaker make an appearance, along with legends such as Kevin Nash and Hulk Hogan. Now that Hulk Hogan is in X8, it’s the second game he makes and appearance in. The other is Legends of Wrestling published by Acclaim. With a roster nearing forty wrestlers, the variety easily tops Raw on the Xbox. That is not counting the create-a-wrestler mode that has become a standard for wrestling games. Unfortunately there is nothing special in the create-a-wrestler feature that makes it stand out from the many other games out there.

austin_02.jpg (8728 bytes)If you ranked the three WWE games that came out for each system Wrestlemania has the best-looking character designs. Realistic, yet stylized enough to keep the larger than life fašade going. Each wrestler has been scanned to ensure that their likeness is as it should be. Now that Nintendo has finally gone to a disc based game instead of the cartridge, full entrances are available with the actual movies played on the titantron. Elaborate lighting and pyrotechnics make an appearance to assist in wowing the audience.

rvd_01.jpg (8946 bytes)Thankfully, THQ has decided not to put any color commentary in the game at all. Usually the lack of any commentary raises a red flag, but after what happened in PS2’s Smackdown, the lack thereof is a blessing. One thing that should be added is audio taunts. Sure you can talk smack to the friend on your couch, but it’s not as intimidating coming from your mouth as it would be coming from the Undertaker. Licensed songs from Limp Bizkit and Motorhead can be heard as the entrance theme to the Undertaker and HHH respectively. Every other wrestler also has their music represented, though some better than others. The NWO's music does not sound like it should; it's way too synthesized.

tlc_01.jpg (9127 bytes)While the music can be overlooked if it’s not quite right and graphics can be flawed on a good game the controls are a killer that should not happen. Ideally, the layout of the controls should lend itself to a fluid game play experience, and this is only somewhat true in Wrestlemania. The real villain in this game is the unresponsiveness of the controls. Wrestling should be a game with strategy, not repeatedly pressing the punch button to be successful. It seems that the buttons need to be repeatedly pressed before the game knows what you are trying to accomplish.

With a prime opportunity to create the quintessential wrestling game that would give Gamecube owners bragging rights over the rest, Wrestlemania X8 gives a mediocre performance and should be demoted to the developmental league. If there is any bright point to all of this it’s the fact that this is the first WWE game for a new system. There is plenty of time to get it right, and the only way to go from here is up. Any more steps backward will kill the series.

Jake Carder   (08/14/2002)

Snapshot

Ups: Pretty graphics; fully animated entrances; create your own belt.

Downs: Sketchy controls; no career mode.

Platform: Gamecube