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WCW vs. NWO: World Tour

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Reviewed by Scott McCall I'm neither a wrestling fan nor an expert when it comes to the video game versions. However, I couldn't help but be impressed by THQ's WCW vs. NWO: World Tour. I think the last time I had so much fun with a wrestling game was Pro Wrestling back on the NES. And, man, if a non-fan can have this much fun with the game, imagine how much you'll like it if you're a real wrestling fan. Let's face it, THQ has not exactly had the greatest track record. But with the dropping of the dot between the "T" and the "H," it's starting to turn things around. THQ's first Nintendo 64 title, WCW vs. NWO: World Tour, is the American version of Asmik's Virtual Pro Wrestling 64, though THQ helped produce the game. And it's simply the best wrestling title ever released. Because of the cartridge format, you won't find memory-hogging full-motion video sequences here. What you will find, however, is the most smoothly animated, best-looking wrestlers to ever grace a video game system and incredible gameplay to go along with them. You will literally be in awe when you see a few of the game's 60 wrestlers enter the ring for the first time. Of the 60 wrestlers, you will find stars from the WCW, from the NWO, and from two independent and/or fictitious leagues, not to mention some hidden characters. Although the action can resort to wild button pressing at times, WCW vs. NWO: World Tour was actually designed to avoid those situations -- and it shows. There's a button for submission moves, a button for reversals, a button for action, a button for grabs, and much more. Beginning players will quickly learn that button mashing does not lead to good things. You'll actually be better off learning what the individual buttons do at various times in this game. The way the game works is that there's a "Spirit Meter" for each of the wrestlers. Getting pummeled will reduce it and will make you easier to knock out or pin. Once you start to turn the tables and perform successive moves, your Spirit Meter begins to go up (even after it's way down). When the meter reaches "Special," you are able to perform a devastating special move. It's over for you when you are pinned, literally knocked out, you're counted out of the ring for 20 seconds, or you tap out due to a submission hold. Despite any reservations you may have in your mind right now, you will often find that matches with four players can take anywhere from 10 minutes to 35 minutes to complete! I should also note that some of the aforementioned items can be toggled and changed in the options. WCW vs. NWO: World Tour contains various modes of play, including Exhibition, Tournament, League, and Battle Royal. That means you can go by yourself against the computer, though that will certainly lose its appeal after a short time. But if you get the opportunity to play any of the multi-player modes, even if it's only with one other person, then WCW vs. NWO: World Tour really begins to shine. Two players can be tag team partners against the computer or can compete against each other in a tournament or league. The far and away best mode of the game, though, is the Battle Royal. This is a mode in which there are four wrestlers in the ring at one time, battling each other in a "every man for himself" mode of play. It can be played by anywhere from one player, who would battle against three computer opponents, to four players. The cool thing about this mode is that even after you are knocked out, ringed out, or counted out, you can still cause havoc by pulling guys out of the ring and beating on them. The graphics in WCW vs. NWO: World Tour can be described as graceful and awe-inspiring. You will have to go through many matches until you see all of the animation the game has to offer. And with many wrestlers having their own animation, it may take even longer. Next up is the game's intelligent camera. I'll admit that I thought the camera angles might be a problem in the game, but the developers did a great job with them. When only two wrestlers are in the ring, the camera is tight. As they get farther away from each other, it zooms out. When more wrestlers are added, it zooms out to the appropriate distance depending on where they are on the screen. Finally, I'd just like to note that every wrestler has four different outfits, which is very cool. Some of the outfits in the game are great. Obviously, they did this just in case all four people wanted to pick the same wrestler. Even the audio side of WCW vs. NWO: World Tour is impressive. The game has some of the best background music I've heard on the N64 thus far. There aren't that many sound effects to speak of, but the voice of the announcer counting out the wrestlers is pretty good. About the only thing needed in the sequel would be voice for the wrestlers, maybe as part of a taunt or something. The crowd noise is pretty decent, too, but I'm always a stickler for continuing to improve it in every sports game. WCW vs. NWO: World Tour is not only the best wrestling game ever but it's also the best fighting game on the system, which is both sad and impressive at the same time. If you're even a modest wrestling fan, you'll definitely want to get a hold of this game. Hey, if you're not a wrestling fan, you'll still want to get in some quality time with this game. And if you're a die-hard wrestling fan, then, well, you'll be in heaven. WCW vs. NWO: World Tour is not perfect, as it lags in the single-player mode, but it will be hard to find a better four-player game, let alone a better wrestling game.

Graphics: 4.6 out of 5 Sound: 4.4 out of 5 Control: 4.1 out of 5 Gameplay: 4.4 out of 5 Lastability: 4.3 out of 5 Overall: 4.4 out of 5

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