Wrestling games have historically been mediocre genre but every once in a while, a true gem arises that transcends the fans of the sport to gamers everywhere. Midway has now released the very first TNA wrestling game and is aiming for the stars. All your favorite fighters took part in the motion capping and getting digitized into the game to give you an authentic experience. The bar is set for a TNA legend but will it hit the mark?
Two of the biggest concerns for fighting games are length and single player. Typically they are short and require a buddy sitting next to you (or at least online). Well push aside those concerns, TNA Impact features a lengthy single player, complete with a story to push you through to the end. You start as a TNA world champion who gets mugged, loses his memory, and is fighting back up to the top. Not a Hollywood quality script but rare for fighting games and is a welcome addition. You create your own character for this mode. There is a decent amount of options but you’ll always feel limited in what you’re able to create. In addition to basic creation, you also get to select the fighting style, even what kind of moves are in your characters repertoire and entrance style. But since you unlock some of these as the game goes on, you’re almost forced to continue to work on your character after you should be done.
Once you’re done here, you’re thrown into the matches. The fighting system has everything to expect from a game but with some additions, the biggest being the counter system. Nearly every move can be countered with pressing the right bumper at the right time. While neat, sometimes this throws the game into a counter match where instead of going on the offensive, you wait to counter the other guy’s moves. A second aspect you’ll have to watch is the damage of the various body parts. If you redden one of these and put your opponent into a submission, you can force them to tap out. This puts some strategy into the game to encourage you to focus on a specific body part so you can win the match. Unfortunately other than the icon, there is no noticeable damage to you or your opponent. If you do not want to take this approach you have the option to just bludgeon your opponent to the win. There is a fatigue meter than once filled knocks out your opponent for a short period. Another meter is the Impact meter, once filled you can unleash a devastating signature move which is quite satisfying. After a while, you can try to pin your opponent, here you enter minigame of pushing the joystick back and forth in hopes you can get up before three seconds up. Most of these features work great but some are too easy like the counter system and sometimes to my amusement, you will roll around on the floor for a while before you get back up. Another issue is the AI, while generally okay will always trip on the stairs outside the rink if they are chasing you. Overall, an average fighting system complimented with a decent story and marred by some minor issues.
The online is an extension of the offline modes, you have standard, tag team, and ultimate x matches. You have the typical online selections and an option between a ranked or unranked match. There are two glaring problems though, number one is the fact that you cannot bring your custom character online with you and multiplayer is reduced to only 2 players (from 4 if you play on same box). Other than that, lag is not an issue and a comparable experience to a buddy on the couch next to you.
Fight Night Round 3 really showed us what to expect from this generation of consoles. Unfortunately, even with the power of the Unreal 3 engine, TNA Impact doesn’t come close. Not to say it looks horrible either. The models look nice and surprisingly it’s practically impossible to make a monstrosity when you create a player, they all look good. Animations look fine but become eventually become repetitive to the point it seems like every other counter is a shot below the belt. The arenas span from nice to barely okay. The biggest disappointment considering the system they setup is the models show no visible damage even if a part of them is deep red on the HUD. Basically it looks decent but devoid of any next generation nuances we come to expect.
The sound is a paramount aspect to fighting games, critical to feel every punch and wince at every crotch shot. Many of the popular fighters have been voice recorded as well as even an announcer but while these are nice, they quickly become repetitive. The hits themselves sound extremely mediocre as well do the ambience in the rings. Overall they do an okay job to keep you in the atmosphere of the game but do nothing to add to it.
TNA fans rejoice, you now have a videogame. Complete with all of your favorite wrestlers and even a couple others, you will be satisfied with this game. If it’s not enough, with the game you get some bonus content. On the game disk you have 2 fights and on an included bonus disk you get 3 more historical fights. Included on the bonus disk is a well produced making of the game which is really neat as well. These freebies are typically delegated to a special edition but given to you for free. Overall, this is just extra meat on the bones for fans. But for those who are not fans, will you still have a great experience? Chances are you’ll be mildly entertained. The fighting system has some great aspects with decent depth but feels mediocre and lacking. The character creation feels somewhat lacking but is made up for by the inclusion of a story. The graphics are decent but animations become repetitive and some arena’s can look pretty bad. The sound is the worst aspect, the announcer and fighters get repetitive really quick and the hits sound lackluster. Overall, this is an entertaining first entry with some decent ideas but ultimately fails to seal the deal. For TNA fans, this is more than just a game and with the bonus content is recommendable, at least as a rental. For everyone else, pass or just rent it to get your fill.