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Needs More Curry Man

Midway's TNA iMPACT! seems like a smooth and fast alternative to the wrestling video games you're used to seeing.

Wrestling games are weird. While actual professional wrestling places a lot of importance on the stories and feuds between wrestlers that set up the actual matches, most of the wrestling games we’ve seen over the past few console generations have been little more than clumsy fighting games with deliberately-obscured health meters. Midway’s TNA Impact might not be the crazy wrestling action-RPG that still sits in the back of my mind, waiting to be made, but after having played an unfinished version of it at Midway’s annual showcase for the press, I can say that it certainly doesn’t feel clumsy.

It doesn’t feel sluggish, either. The first thing you notice when you pick up the controller is that TNA Impact is fast. It makes sense, considering that TNA’s more exciting matches revolve around what they call the X Division, a group of sometimes-smaller guys that can flip out and go absolutely nuts in the ring. But the game doesn’t seem to sacrifice all of the depth you expect from a wrestling game in favor of raw speed. The controls feel responsive, and they make sense, with buttons for punch, kick, grab, and an action button, which is used to leave the ring, climb turnbuckles, and so on. The left bumper on the 360 controller is used as a modifier to give you regular and “strong” versions of most actions, and the right bumper is used for blocking and countering.

TNA’s single-player takes the form of a story mode, where you create your own wrestler, insert him into the world of TNA and fight your way to the top. There will be multiple match types in Impact, including the basic rule set variations, tag team matches, and so on. At the recent Midway event where I got to play the game, I was able to see the Ultimate X match, which is sort of like a ladder match without the ladders. Instead, a large X hangs from a chain that’s tied to two cables that cross each other high above the ring. So you’ll have to hop up onto a turnbuckle, shimmy your way up some metal rigging to reach the cables, and then make your way out over the center of the ring to try and grab the X and win the match. There are plenty of ways to stop your opponent from reaching this goal, such as climbing out there yourself and grabbing hold of him, or if he’s close enough, a drop kick from the top turnbuckle can also do the trick. If you get out to the X, a little timing-based minigame pops up to make grabbing the X something that takes a bit of time to accomplish.

The game seems to do right by the TNA license, with graphics that accurately reflect the look of TNA, from the Orlando-based Impact Zone to the character models and ring entrances. 25 wrestlers will show up in the final product, including Kurt Angle, Sting, Booker T, Christian Cage, Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Rhino, Christopher Daniels, Eric Young, Homicide, Hernandez, Tomko, Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Jay Lethal, Abyss, Jeff Jarrett, Sonjay Dutt, Robert Roode, Petey Williams, and Scott Steiner. Interestingly, the team at Midway LA is also planning to add additional wrestlers as downloadable content, which could really help keep the rosters up to date. Additional locations to wrestle in and more moves to use with your created wrester are also in the planning stages as future downloads.

On top of showing all this stuff about the game, Midway also took the opportunity to give the game a new release month. It’s now on for September, which replaces the late-June date that had been floating around previously. After playing the game for myself, it feels like the developers are on the right track to provide a solid alternative to the WWE-licensed games we’ve been seeing recently, which seems about right, considering that TNA is providing a solid alternative to WWE on television and pay-per-view.

Ryan and I will further discuss Midway’s upcoming games and its recent Las Vegas-based event on next week’s podcast. In the meantime, here’s Curry Man!


Jeff Gerstmann on Google+