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WWFRAW_logo.jpg (17560 bytes)

star06.gif (4104 bytes)star06.gif (4104 bytes)

by THQ

HHHent.92.jpg (3547 bytes)This is a public service announcement. A crappy game has been spotted under the guise of something spectacular. The culprit is WWF Raw is War. The victims are Xbox owners. The crime is making consumers believe that if they purchase this game they will be the proud owners of a wrestling game that rivals the Smackdown series for the PS2. While we cannot arrest the programmers, games like this one should be a crime. Raw is War is the latest in an ongoing trend of games that promise so much yet fail to deliver the goods. Sure there are moments of technical brilliance in the game, but audio and visuals are only half of the gameplay experience. Lacking any true depth, RAW can be compared to the Blockbuster films of the summer: nice to look at, but no real substance to sink your teeth into. Unfortunately this game will set you back 50 bucks while a movie is considerably cheaper. Ladies and Gentleman welcome to "WWF lite."

PL_a3.24.jpg (4399 bytes)WWF Raw has the distinct honor of being the first wrestling game to appear on the Xbox. With over thirty wrestlers to choose from there should be one of your favorites as long as they are main event caliber. Austin, Rock, HHH and Undertaker are some of the familiar names you will run across. Do not be too shocked though if there are a few names you have either not heard of in years or ever. Haku will be one of these names, a wrestler way past his prime and better suited for the Legends of Wrestling game. Another would be K-Kwick, a young wrestler who broke out nearly a year ago, but has since been out of commission due to injury and an inflated roster of wrestlers. Not counting the few main event caliber wrestlers, the line up in Raw is better suited for Sunday Night Heat.

woj.117.jpg (8641 bytes)There is a create-a-wrestler mode for those who do not see a suitable combatant in the list of wrestlers provided for you . Creating a wrestler will become one of the most surreal experiences you could have in a game like this. The actual body shapes and facial features are down to earth with minimal variety. The surreal part comes little later when you start adjusting the attire of the wrestler. For the arms alone you can have a puppet for one hand and a lobster claw for the other making them appear as if they were rejects from the Masters of the Universe toy line. Once your creation is to your twisted satisfaction you can choose the lighting and pyrotechnics. By this I mean you do not just choose an existing superstar’s pyro and lights, but you can actually choose what colors you want for the lighting and how they pulse in a rhythm. It almost makes up for the fact that the moves allowed are minimal in comparison to other WWF games.

Wcs1.91.jpg (5091 bytes)There are ways to unlock some hidden wrestlers, but doing so will be a test of your patience and determination. There are a series of titles that you can wrestle for. Depending on the title, the number of opponents will vary. If you go for the women’s title you only have to go against three, but the world title pits you against twelve wrasslers. The problem is there is no save feature. Here you have a game system with a built in hard drive and there is no way to save the game. What’s up with that?!? Adding in the fact that they have taken a more arcade route by only giving you a limited amount of continues brings the frustration level way too high for any enjoyment. The career mode suffers from the same problems, so you are better off playing in the exhibition matches and waiting for a code that unlocks the rest of the wrestlers for you rather than earning them. Those wanting any sort of story mode will be greatly disappointed. There are a few different styles of matches, but all that really changes is how many opponents you go up against. While you are not able to take the match to the crowd (as was advertised), you are able to rush your opponent while he is entering the ring. This is a first in wrestling games and adds a new element to your strategy.

kane1-01.jpg (6817 bytes)Wanting to fully exploit the striking and grappling style of professional wrestling, THQ used the development team that created Ultimate Fighting Championship for the Sega Dreamcast. The UFC title accurately portrays the style of fighting typically found in that sport. To have an accurate fighting system there needs to be as close as a balance of grapples and striking maneuvers. RAW lacks such a balance gameplay leans so much in the direction of strikes that it seems more like Street Fighter than a WWF title. Its way too easy to counter a grapple attempt by just hitting the punch button. Add in the fact that there is a slight delay between hitting a button and the action on-screen, and that frustration factor just keeps nudging up. Another glaring problem with the controls is how running is performed. Instead of using a button, you must double tap either the analog stick or the digital pad. The problem is if you use the analog stick all you do is run and usually not in the direction you want.

Kane_ent.134.jpg (7015 bytes)With all these negative things that make this game such a disappointment there are still a few things that shine a light on such a dreary situation. The audio and visual qualities of RAW are phenomenal. Nearly everything heard in the WWF is here, from entrance music to ring announcers. Not heard are ringside commentators, but after what happened in previous games it is probably a good thing to leave them out. The visuals are the show stealers in RAW. This is a new level in character modeling. Each wrestler looks very much like his real life counterpart even with trademark facial expressions, scars and tattoos. While in previous games the seams around joints were blocky, RAW is smooth like the baby’s butt. Even with the crappy-looking audience, RAW still is the prettiest wrestling game ever.

h4.jpg (7033 bytes)Those who feel compelled after reading this that they need to still buy this game, don't. Rent it first because at best RAW is a renter even for those who are die hard fans. There is just too much going against this game to warrant a purchase. Sure there are some great graphics, but in a time where graphics are becoming more spectacular every day, a greater emphasis should be placed on the gameplay and overall completeness. I would have waited another year to ensure that I played the spectacular game that was promised.

Jake Carder   (04/02/2002)


Ups: Rushing your opponent while he enters the ring; excellent graphics and character modeling; crisp audio.

Downs: Everything else.

Platform: Xbox