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WCW Mayhem

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Reviewed by JAIC WCW MAYHEM is Electronic Arts first venture into the wonderful world of N64 wrestling games. With THQ dropping the license to produce WCW wrestling games in favor of the now more popular WWF in addition to tremendous success of WCW/NWO Revenge, it seemed like a good move on their part to snatch up the license and make a little money. Considering that this was EA's first attempt at making a wrestling title for the N64, which at the time already had two hugely successful titles in Revenge and Acclaim's WWF Attitude, I was not expecting a particularly stellar first showing even though they were boasting of backstage action and pay-per view codes that would allow the current WCW pay-per view card to be played on the game itself. It is also worth noting that WCW was in the early stages of huge roster changes and the current downward spiral from which the company may never recover.

Graphics: 7.5 out of 10

The graphic presentation of WCW Mayhem has it's ups and downs. There are occasions during game play when I am truly impressed the graphics as well as the various camera angles that are provided. However, without question, the only time that graphics are truly something to behold is during close-ups of some of the extremely limited yet fairly impressive high impact moves. During any kind of match that involves more than two participants, the camera is always zoomed out pretty far away from the action. This is where things really begin to get ugly. The ring, ringside areas, and the crowd do not seem to suffer much when the camera zooms away; however, the wrestlers themselves take a serious hit. They begin to move in a very stiff, robotic fashion and they take on an extremely jagged and outright ugly appearance. The backstage areas (which were something first introduced to wrestling games here) look very well done with the exception of every thing being totally flat. The security camera views that are often used to cover matches once they spill into the backstage areas look very well and do not hinder the action of the game at all. At some points during game play, the physical interaction between the wrestlers can look a bit awkward due to problems with contact detection. This basically means that sometimes Goldberg can spear some one and take him down with out appearing to have ever physically contacted him. For the most part the weapons are well rendered and appear in the wrestlers hands in a fairly realistic fashion. The actual use of the weapons on the other hand can be a problem as again sometimes wrestlers are damaged by chair shots that do not seem to actually make contact and other times wrestlers take no damage when a lead pipe seems to pass right through his ribcage. The arenas and crowds look fairly well rendered. Pyrotechnics used for wrestler entrances probably should have been left out completely as the weak pyros that accompany Goldberg to the ring are not even close to being on par with the real thing. However, the lighting effect used for the tazer, which sends an electric shock to unfortunate wrestlers, was well done and adds a degree of humor to the game as well.

Music and Sound: 8 out of 10

The sound department in WCW Mayhem is one aspect of the game that stands out in my opinion. Tony Schiavone's commentary though somewhat repetitive and ill-timed is crystal clear and even changes tone depending on the level of intensity in the match. Gene Okerlund is well represented as the ring announcer and his spots are extremely well done. I was very much impressed with the crowd noises (which seem to be missing from many WCW shows nowadays) because they are extremely loud when the action is hot or when the more popular wrestlers are in action and they are virtually silent when the action is dull or when some jobber is in the ring doing his thing. A few more chants would have been nice other than the Goldberg chant, but overall the commentary, the ring announcing, and the crowd noises make for a fairly realistic sounding wrestling game experience. The absence of any audio from the wrestlers themselves aside from a few muffled grunts when a submission hold is applied is a definite draw- back as trash talk from the wrestlers is such an integral part of pro wrestling. The ring sounds are done really well as bodies slamming into the mat really sound loud and wrestlers bodies make different sounds depending on if they are hitting the mat or the cold hard floor at ringside or in one of the backstage areas. Weapon sounds are done fairly well also as 2x4's and stop signs and kitchen sinks and lead pipes and tazer's all make different sounds when being applied to a wrestlers body. WCW is not know for its great wrestler theme songs as many of them are low budget ripoffs of real songs. However, some of the themes represented are Sting's theme at that time (not Seek and Destroy), NWO Wolfpac theme, NWO Black and White theme, Konnan's old theme, Eddy Guerrero's theme, The Four Horsemen theme, Goldberg's theme, and DDP's Self High Five. For the most part these themes have been accurately reproduced with only DDP's theme being noticeable altered. A few wrestler catch phrases would have been really nice.

Game Challenge: 6 out of 10

The challenge of this game is not terribly difficult and once the game play mechanics have been understood not necessarily mastered the game can be completed in a fairly timely manner on any difficulty level. The game does provide a challenge in that there are quite a few hidden backstage areas and wrestlers/managers/announcers to be unlocked and in order to do this it is necessary to complete the game with certain characters on certain difficulty levels. This provides a challenge in that you have to become familiar with the moves of many different characters. The major challenge of this game has to do with the fact that there are no energy gauges or health meters in this game this game employs the same spirt meter type of system used in Revenge. Therefore in order to beat your opponent inside the ring it is absolutely required that you be on special and hit your finishing move on your opponent as many times as possible prior to going for the pin. This game is not like WWF Attitude where you can use basic moves to drain your opponents energy and then pin him at any time once his energy is at a certain level. In theory you could win a match like this by repeatedly body slamming your opponent and never using any high impact moves or finishers. You may be saying to yourself,"no problem", but hold on just a second. Getting on special is no easy task in Mayhem as there are not a lot of moves to be performed in the game and many of those are not high impact crowd pleasers. Through trial and error you have to figure out which moves really get the crowd going and use them to build your spirit meter also taunt when- ever possible. Unlike Revenge once you get on special you do not stay on special for a certain amount of time so you must move quickly. For example you may hit a big move knocking your opponent down and putting you on special at the same time, but by the time you pick up your opponent and initiate a grapple, you may no longer be on special. This makes the game somewhat tough to win inside the ring especially on the harder difficulty levels and win your opponent has an ally run in from the back to interfere on his behalf. However this guarantees that matches will not be as short as some of Goldberg's matches have been.

Game Play-Fun: 7 out of 10

The game play of Mayhem is fairly good because it is an easy game to learn with a limited amount of moves. The controls can be somewhat sluggish and unresponsive at times especially when grappling, performing irish whip moves, entering/leaving the ring and obtaining weapons. Once a grapple has been initiated the moves execute fairly quickly and ground attacks are very easy to pull off. Top rope attacks are easily performed as well and Mayhem has the unique feature of allowing you to aim your top rope attacks to increase your chances of success as opposed to just pressing buttons and letting the computer control the rest. Grappling from the rear is awkward at best and very rarely pulled off with any consistency. Unlike Revenge and Attitude which allow you to perform a few button presses to switch from a front grapple to a rear grapple, no such option is available in Mayhem. The only way to perform a rear grapple is to daze your opponent in the center of the ring, stand him and physically walk around behind him and initiate the grapple. This can be extremely tough to pull off because many of the moves that temporarily daze your opponent close to the ropes therefore when you stand him up his back will be close to if not completely up against the ropes, so either there is no room to walk behind him or he will begin to physically turn so that his back is against the ropes. This makes it extremely difficult to perform moves such as Sting's scorpion death drop, Lex Lugar's torture rack and German suplexes. Once all the hidden things have been unlocked (they must be saved to memory card) the single player mode can be pretty boring. There are 5 modes of play : singles, tag team, handi- cap, triangle, and battle royal. There are no cage matches and no huge 30-40 man battle royals only 4 players allowed. There is a create a wrestler mode, but you would be hard pressed to create any- thing worthwhile. The easy game play and fast-paced action in this game may make for a good multi player experience once the single player mode has lost its luster.


My number one frustration with this game is the sheer lack of moves. The number of moves included in this game is pathetic. Many wrestlers have the same identical moves many of which are not actually used by these wrestlers in real life. Also a glaring number of moves that are used by the wrestlers in real life have been left out like the buff blockbuster, Rick Steiner's super bulldog, and Booker T's axe kick, also Lash Leroux, who was one of the character models for the game, does not have his finisher the Whip Lash and last but not least little Rey does not perform the Bronco Buster!!! This poor attention to detail on the part of EA is unacceptable. If wrestlers were going to be given so few moves, they should have been given the proper ones. Several wrestler's use Goldberg's spear, many also use Disco Inferno's Last Dance, and at least 3 other wrestler's use Wrath's meltdown as their finisher, all wrong!!! Problems with the moves in addition to the problem with initiating a rear grapple are constant sources of frustration.

Replayability: 5 out of 10

If you are a big fan of WCW wrestling you may play this game a lot and it will take some time to unlock all of the hidden features in the game as well. However unless you are a huge fan with a lot of friends to play along with you, you will not be revisiting this title often. The shallow nature of the wrestler move sets coupled with the equally shallow create a wrestler mode do not provide this game with much replayability at all.

Game Value: 6 out of 10

As of right now I would not pay more than $15 for this game used. There are too many better wrestling titles available for the N64 right now and this is just not a top notch wrestling title.

Overall: 6.5 out of 10

Overall, I have to give credit where credit is due. EA tried some new things with their first WCW wrestling game many of which were good. Nice camera angles, backstage brawling, pay-per-view codes and the ring announcer were all nice touches. However, small glitches in game play, contact detection, and graphics were enough to begin to pull this game down into the murky depths of mediocrity. When you combine these flaws with the unfaithful representation of the wrestler's in- ring moves, the poor create a wrestler mode, the lack of a cage, the limited 4 man battle royal, the lack of any wrestler voice samples and the horrible rear grappling system and you end up with a game that flat out had the potential to be a great game struggling to even be considered good. Had this game been given more effort it could have easily been better than Attitude, and with a few more voice samples and wrestler themes and a few less flat surfaces in the back stage areas and this game could have rivaled Wrestlemania 2000. Give this game a try. It is easy to play and game play is swift. Please bring a friend and do not expect too much.

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