Giant Bomb Review

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TNA iMPACT! Review

3
  • X360

TNA iMPACT! has some great ideas, but a wide array of issues big and small prevent it from achieving greatness.

Kurt Angle loves America nearly half as much as he loves himself!
It's been a long time since anyone has come through with a legitimate licensed wrestling game to oppose THQ's long-running WWE-licensed games. That's largely because there hasn't been another meaningful organization to license for years. Recently, Orlando-based TNA Wrestling has risen to becoming a meaningful, though certainly smaller alternative to the WWE. So it's no surprise that the rise of a new wrestling organization has led to the rise of a new wrestling game based on the promotion. And much like TNA's weekly television show, Midway's interactive take on things is a combination of terrific highs and crushing lows. When you push all of those goods and bads together, you get a game that has a great deal of potential, but has a lot of quirks and annoying issues that really hold it back.

The most standout thing about TNA iMPACT! is its gameplay. It's a much faster game than you're probably used to if you've been following the genre for the last few years. Also, the controls feel nicely streamlined. It's easy to pick up the contoller, mess around for a few minutes, and get a good feel for when and where to use each of your attacks. The game uses a modifier button to execute "strong" versions of many attacks, and this button is what changes a simple run against the ropes into a dive that takes you through the ropes, out onto the floor, and (ideally) crashing down on top of your opponent.

The game is also very counter-focused with an emphasis on proper timing to avoid and reverse attacks. The window for countering moves is really tight, though, which makes it difficult to get used to. It also makes countering in online matches tough when the connection to the other player isn't great.

There's a downside to the game's easy control, though. The game doesn't offer as many moves as you'd expect, and it's easy to find yourself doing the same "toward+strong grapple" move again and again and again. It seemed like I spent most of my time in the story mode just suplexing people repeatedly, then whipping them into a turnbuckle so I could grab them and smash their head into the corner four times.

TNA's action takes place in a six-sided ring.
The game's match types cover most of the basic things you'd expect from a four-player game, but you won't find any sort of "no disqualification" or "hardcore" match in here. That's because all the matches are no DQ. There's no ref in the ring, you can't get counted out, and there are always plenty of chairs around the ring that are free to use as weapons. The only meaningful gimmick match is the Ultimate X, which is a match that positions a big friggin' X above the center of the ring, hanging from cables that attach to four of the turnbuckles. To win, someone must climb up a turnbuckle, climb out onto the cables, shimmy over to the X, and play a timing-based minigame to unhook it from the cables. It's a good addition.

The main single-player component to TNA is a story mode that opens with you playing the role of a fictional wrestler named Suicide. Suicide wins the TNA championship instead of taking a dive, so he's laid out by the tag team LAX and dumped in Tijuana with amnesia and a messed-up face. That brings you into the create-a-wrestler menus. You pick a new name for yourself and through your inherent, subliminal thirst for wrestling, find yourself working your way back to TNA. With your new look, the guys who hated you before don't recognize you.

The thing about the story mode is that it starts with a solid premise--it's certainly more interesting than anything that TNA has put on its television programming for the past few months. But the game almost immediately sticks you in a bunch of awful, boring tag team matches with Eric Young as your partner. Most of the time, there's no rhyme or reason to your matches, either. You just proceed through matches with no real end in sight until the game decides to spring a cutscene on you. Also, a large chunk of your time in story mode is spent wrestling created wrestlers, not actual TNA talent. With more interaction with the guys you actually watch TNA to see and some more story sequences to keep things focused, this could have been a much better mode.

For some players, a wrestling game lives and dies by its create-a-wrestler options. Those players will not enjoy this game. That's not to say that the character creation options are bad, it's more that they're pretty squarely focused on letting you make average-looking wrestling dudes, as opposed to slyly including parts that let you re-create wrestlers from the past. Outside of a decidedly Stone Cold Steve Austin-like vest and a variety of lucha masks, you're probably going to end up with a guy that looks like a low-rent, mid-card wrestler... which is pretty much perfect for the story mode.

Samoa Joe would like to be the first to welcome you to this menu screen.
Visually, the game has nice character models and textures, but the canned, motion-captured movement makes it feel like you're just setting off strings of animation instead of actually moving around and executing techniques. Also, there are plenty of spots where the models clip through each other, so don't be surprised to see one guy's foot sticking out of the other guy's back.

The audio in the game is awesome in some spots. Things like slamming a wrestler into a turnbuckle sound like someone being murdered. Body slams and other moves that send wrestlers crashing to the mat also sound thunderously nice. It's backed up by some of the weakest commentary I've heard in awhile. Don West and Mike Tenay rarely say anything related to the action, and when they do, it's almost always a few seconds too late. On top of that, they repeat themselves a lot, and the game rarely uses a wrestler's name, so it's a lot of "he" this and "he" that.

The overall feeling that TNA iMPACT! leaves me with is that it's a solid first step. With some iteration, more content, and more vocal contributions from more members of the TNA roster, a sequel could be just as viable of an alternative to the SmackDown! series as TNA's brand of wrestling is to WWE's.
Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
28 Comments
Edited by Chrjz

Wrestling games were never my thing, but this review is good.

Posted by Psynapse

Yeah I always found that Wrestling games were a bit over the top for me... But i guess the whole industry is... Oh well, each to their own!

Posted by StaticFalconar

I guess this one's a rental at best.

Posted by mrfluke

check your headlining words jeff you didnt finish the sentence   "

TNA iMPACT! has some great ideas, but a wide array of issues big and small prevent it from

wheres the rest

Online
Posted by Antaeus

I have been somewhat of a fan of wrestling games for a while now and this looks like it could be a good change in things, I think I'm renting this and if it is better then average to me I'll buy it.

Posted by MasterSplinter

Why didn't Luchadeer review this?

Posted by deaux

Prevent it from....?

:)
Posted by Thordain

Nice review Jeff

Posted by HTTenrai

I've been getting that same notion from other sources: It's a good first step, but it's exactly that...a first step that can't compete yet with another series that has a stride already.

And sadly, because I am one of those CAW love-or-hate guys, TNA is sadly not the game for me. Back to Smackdown.

Thanks Jeff!

Posted by AlucardaLaCarte

Ow!...my dreams! I almost ran out and bought this, so I guess I dodged a bullet. I'll play before I pay. Oh and dcpc, you are CORRECT, sir. SD VS RAW is the Madden of pro wrestling games. Only worth buying every few years to see how far they've taken the incremental increases.

Posted by patrick5152003

video review with luchadeer? yes?

Posted by Vinchenzo

Last time I played a wrestling games was years ago on I believe the PS1. That's also the time when I lost my appeal for wrestling in general. Everything is just over-the-top, and not in a good or entertaining way.

Posted by OGCartman

It looks incredibly sick
Yes, i am a wrestling fan

Great review =D

Posted by Trilogy

I haven't played a wrestling game since WCW vs. NWO and the sequel on N64. This looks interesting but the fact that I'm not a wrestling fan is probably the biggest thing holding me back. If they can get rid of most of the flaws in this game it would totally be worth it for me to try.

Posted by Crono

@Trilogy

Same here.  I enjoyed those wrestling games on the N64 though, actually but it was probably because it was a good game to play with 3 of your friends... lol

Online
Posted by Randolph

All wrestling games tend to suck these days, frankly, post Here Comes The Pain. (which was practically perfect)

Posted by gamerpigeon

i know reading the review is what its about , but i feel without half stars in your system that you are gonna have too many 3 star rated games , already most of the games you have reviewd have 3 stars , its not good , because i would feel that soul calibur is better than tna impact in someway , but you cant tell at first glance without reading the review.

great reviews , but the star system needs revising

Posted by elektrixx

I bought this yesterday. I agree with Jeff; it is a good start but the next TNA game is the one you should wait for.

I absolutely love Ultimate X in this game. The way the minigame works and everything is great.

My copy of the game also came with a bonus disc containing the making of the game and some bonus matches from TNA back in the Nashville days. It also came with a card to mail in to get two TNA DVD's as well.

Even if you don't think highly of the game itself, there's plenty more there to make it your money's worth if you like TNA.

Posted by Kohe321

Yeah I think we need a video review with the luchadeer.

Posted by Darro

I got the game today and have played for the past few hours.  I have to agree with the review since it has some good aspects but the bad ones make it something worth playing.  Lack of moves is a real downer and the CAW is pretty lacklustre and the worst one I've seen since Wrestlemania 21 on Xbox.  But the gameplay system is not bad and is easy to get into.

I am sure the next iteration will be better and will have more match types like King of the Mountain and six sides of steel and more wrestlers of course.

Posted by ElectricHaggis

The guy on the right of the box shot looks like Ben Stiller.  Nice review Jeff.

Posted by BD_Mr_Bubbles

might get this when the price drops

Posted by GordonFreeman1500

its just their first attempt, hopefully future releases of TNA will be better, i mean its better than Wrestlemania  21 right?

Posted by Raven_Sword

I really wish they would compare the version to see if there was a differenc. Makes me think they only played the 360 version adn not the PS3 version.

Posted by AaronBelfast

I want a video review...NOW!

Posted by L

Yeah,  was kinda expecting this game not to be that good.

Posted by Schizoid

I wanted this to be great so badly. :( I'll still buy it when the price goes down.

Posted by Motoracer2005

Not as good as expected to be...........