adventchild's TNA iMPACT! (Xbox 360) review

Much like real life, it's no WWE

For years, WWE has ruled the world of professional wrestling with an iron fist.  This has fallen over into the video gaming world and there has not been any competition for sometime now.  Enter TNA.  For those of you who are not die hard wrestling fans, TNA are a wrestling promotion based in Orlando, Florida who are the only company that come close to touching the WWE these days.  Thanks to the great folks at Midway, TNA decided to test WWE’s metal by releasing their own video game.  Unfortunately, the game has far too many issues to be considered any really threat to the WWE’s SmackDown! series.

The character models for the TNA roster are fantastic, they were all motion captured and Midway have done a great job of representing the real life superstars as video game characters.  However, this can easily be overlooked as the superstars’ move sets are incredibly limited and the only signature moves that they have are their finishers.  This is terribly off-putting when half of the roster pulls off the same strikes and grapples with regularity.  It is a shame to see this happen because their real life characters are all full of spark and creativity and that sadly is not portrayed in the game.

As with any wrestling game ever made, TNA: iMPACT has many clipping issues.  Superstars’ limbs will often pass straight though opponents during a move and they will try to elbow drop an opponent who was lying down but is now starting to rise.  All wrestling games have had this problem but iMPACT does not seem to be up to the standard that it should be given the amount of times that the game was delayed.

Anyone who has watched wrestling will have heard the sickening thud as a superstar hits the mat, and this is something that TNA: iMPACT has recreated successfully.  The grapple moves all sound fantastic and there are a few moves that you can pull off which throw the opponent down with such force that the player will often treat themselves to an: ‘Oh Snap’.  However, as with every high in this game, there is a low.  Although the actual wrestling sounds are authentic and realistic, the same cannot be said for the announcing or the voice acting.  The superstar’s voice acting in story mode is bad.  Bad even for a professional wrestler.  It sounds like they all turned up at the recording session, blasted through their lines and were heading back home an ten minutes later.  There is no emotion in their voices and it can be a real distraction from an otherwise decent story mode.  The less said for the announcers the better.  Their remarks are completely disjointed from the match and even sound slightly delayed, and Don West will be screaming his lungs out if any move more powerful than a punch is pulled off.

The gameplay of TNA: iMPACT is a very different thing to the SmackDown series.  It focuses on much more of an arcade feel in which superstars can get hit by all sorts of vicious moves and fall from 15 feet up yet spring to their feet just seconds later. This is both a welcome break from the WWE’s methods both in-ring and video-game style.  Every iMPACT match is essentially a no-DQ match as there is no referee present which leaves the players to use chairs, low blows etc. to ensure the victory.  The Story Mode in iMPACT is a fairly concise journey but has far too much ‘filler’ to be considered anything better than decent.  You start out as a TNA wrestler called Suicide who is viciously beaten by other TNA stars and left to die in .  There, you are found and given re-constructive surgery (hence the create-a-wrestler option..)  From there on, you must take your new star through the Indie ranks and onto TNA in hopes of winning the World Heavyweight Championship.  However, a good 25% percent of this is pointless Tag matches against randomly created wrestlers who are not even on the TNA roster.  It is not until towards the end of the Story Mode that the more familiar faces from TNA become apparent and the story starts to take some meaningful shape.

TNA: iMPACT is a solid first game of what could should and will most likely be a continuing franchise.  As a franchise, it is a good starting point and hopefully this time next year, there will be a more thorough and a much more complete version of TNA: iMPACT.

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