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WCW Mayhem

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Reviewed by Yoshi-M Those of you who have read my earlier reviews of wrestling games know I like the WCW. While yes I can get a little biased, I don't let that affect my reviews. I love WCW/NWO Revenge. When I heard that EA was going to take over the license and they were going to make a game with lots of options, hey, I was pumped. Like other wrestling games, WCW Mayhem allows you to control your favorite WCW/NWO/ (whatever faction is popular this week) stars. There are a variety of matches and events you can wrestle in: one on one, handicap, three-way-dance, battle royal, and tag-team. You can also go on a Quest for the Belts and work your way up to get the World Heavyweight belt (all the while unlocking hidden characters). After seeing how popular Create a Wrestler was in the WWF games, EA followed suit with a pretty well designed creator of its own. Adjust body size, skin tone, faces, piercings (this I didn't expect..nipple rings?!), tattoos, clothes, masks, glasses..the list goes on. Select the character's attitude, affiliation, moves (actually, you choose which wrestler you want your character to emulate), and then statistics. Another feature EA added was the ability to fight at other places in the arena! No longer restricted to the ring and ring area, in singles matches, you can go into different rooms and start a whole new slobber knocker of a match, with lots of weapons to play with. Speaking of rules and weapons, there is even a "Raven's Rules" setting where ANYTHING goes. To add to the spirit of the sport, EA put in a "momentum meter" that rises and falls indicating how much of a roll your wrestler is on. This whole wrestling package is then wrapped up in some pretty decent graphics, with convincing animations and sounds. The game also sports the commentary of Tony Schivonne (I think I botched the spelling) and Mean Gene Okerlund, along with the theme songs for most of the wrestlers. Mayhem has all the makings to be a truly excellent game. But.... I think EA kind of dropped the ball on this one. First off, the controls are not overly responsive. It seemed like, when I punched, there was a delay before my wrestler actually performed the move. Speaking of moves, why does the wrestling action seem to move so slow? Instead of being an intense match, the whole experience tends to lag on. The moves are fairly easy to master, and to pull off moves do not require as much digital dexterity that Attitude and Warzone require. Yet, like Attitude and Warzone, it seems that each wrestler performs a different move when pressing the same buttons. I realize that all wrestlers do things differently, but why do I have to press C left with one wrestler to perform, say, and arm bar and then B plus the control pad to do the same move with another wrestler? That's one of the many things I liked about Revenge was consistency: the more simple moves were usually the same button/control direction combo for all of the wrestlers. While the execution of moves look very good, the overall animation for basic movement, picking up items, even standing look very robotic. As a match progressed, the characters didn't look like they were hurt (while in Revenge they would hold their gut or head, indicating some sort of damage was done). This game DEFINITELY needs more polishing.

Graphics 4 out of 5

While graphically better in many areas than Revenge, Mayhem does lack when it comes to finesse. Most of the animations are very slick, with taunts and wrestling moves executed beautifully, its seems most everything else doesn't move right. While most of the animations are fluid, it seems like the wrestlers are walking through water because they seem to be slow. Revenge had great speed, and the animations for the little details made the game great. When someone was stunned in Revenge, you didn't need the word "STUNNED" flashing on the screen t indicate could SEE it (the person stumbling, or just groggy looking). Mayhem shows the guy kind of dangling his arms while the "idiot light" appears on the screen to tell you he is stunned. The rings themselves look well detailed, with all of the major pay per view arenas looking awesome. The back room areas look good, but I think they needed a little more atmosphere to spruce them up. Maybe some tables or desks you could drop someone onto... If EA added some finesse to the whole graphic package, I think this game would have gotten a 5 in this area.

Music and Sound 4 out of 5

I really like the sound in Mayhem. It sounds like you are actually watching a match on TV (sort of). The entrance music is an actual recording of the real music, not cheap MIDI songs, the punches are hard sounding, and the mat has a nice sound when a character lands on it. The commentary, while sounds great, gets REALLY annoying REALLY quick. Lots of repeats of comments, and they are not as colorful as in Warzone. If they had The Brain talking as well, things might have been different.

Game Challenge 3 out of 5

A person can easily sit down and blur through the Quest with little difficulty. The only problem is that, as in all wrestling games, the computer tends to block...a lot. The momentum meter is kind of neat, but it fluctuates way to much. If you are not continuously kicking the other guy's rear, your meter will collapse rapidly. It should indicate which direction the match is truly going, and should not be effected by immediate actions. The Spirit meter in Revenge I think Is the best "momentum meter" around: you could psyche yourself up by posing/taunting, and even though your foe could get a few hits on you, you still were pumped. It took a decent come back by an opponent to drop your Spirit. Anyway, this game is about Multi player, and this game does a good job with all of the modes. I do have a complaint: the battle royal only features 4 wrestlers. I miss the 40 man run ins....

Game Play-Fun 3 out of 5

I just couldn't seem to get into the game. While the music and visuals are great, the game just has a cardboard cut out feel to it. Mayhem just doesn't have the finesse and attitude that Revenge has. In Revenge, when I played as Hogan, it FELT like Hogan. Or Goldberg...the spear actually looked like it hurt the opponent. Just the little visuals and actions that made Revenge a truly polished game are absent from Mayhem.


I wish I would get more of a response from my character when I switch my attention from one opponent to another. There is a subtle change when there are two opponents near each other. You sometimes don't know who your opponent is until you orbit them to see if your character focuses his attention on them.

Replayability 4 out of 5

With the many modes, including the cool Pay per View mode (which allows you to relive major matches from a pay per view event), create a wrestler, and more, you should have a lot to do. The single player mode is fairly easy, but the added bonus is that when you win the belts, you have to defend it as well. Multi player is a big replayability factor here.

Control 3 out of 5

I hate control delay. I understand, sports games are supposed to be more realistic, but dangnit, I want my character to actually move when my finger is pushing a button. It seemed like a bit after I pressed a button, the character reacted. Also, why the different buttons for attacks? One button was kick, the C left and C down were "special attacks". Okay, the C left alone was a "weak" attack, but use the control pad with the C left and it becomes a "special" attack. Again, consistency would have been nice here. Example, C left is a weak punch...Use the control pad and get different punches using the direction of the pad. Though even that sometimes can be a hassle: I wanted Bret Hart to kick...hit A. When moving and hitting A, he will drop kick. What if I want to do a simple kick while moving? This area of the game needed more work.

Artificial Intelligence 2 out of 5

The computer is an idiot. Example: During a Battle Royal, it was down to the computer controlled Rey Mysterio Jr. against Kevin Nash. Rey pushed Nash into the corner and put him onto the top turn buckle. Then, Rey just stood there. And stood there. In fact he didn't move until Nash was no longer stunned and jumped back down onto the mat. Also, I have not seen the computer grab a weapon once. What's up with that? Sometimes, the computer just stands there and becomes a polygonal punching bag. The only thing that saves the computer character from immediate doom is the fact the game seems to move very slow (and I'm not talking about game speed, just the whole momentum of a match feels like it takes for-ever). Definitely a game designed strictly for multi player.

Overall 3 out of 5

Not a bad attempt for (as far as I know) a first wrestling game. I don't think it should have been hyped up NEARLY as much as it was. The game could have used some more polishing. I hope the next time they publish a wrestling title, they would have fixed some of the shortcomings I mentioned to make the game a more complete virtual wrestling experience. Even though it has great visuals, even better music, and lots of features, WCW Mayhem is still an average title.

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