Hey Ho folks, it’s been just over year since I last reviewed WWE Wrestlemania X8 for the Nintendo GameCube, and now I’m back, this time with the next instalment of WWE gaming on the GameCube, and surprisingly its called Wrestlemania XIX. Many fans were very disappointed with Wrestlemania X8, so Wrestlemania XIX needed to be a lot better than its predecessor, but would THQ along with Yukes be able to improve the game? Find Out.
Personally I had been looking forward to WM 19 a lot, I think its was probably because of the fact that WM 18 lasted about 3 weeks before it started to gather dust, the longevity in that game was virtually non-existent, so myself and most fans of WWE gaming on the Gamecube were in desperate need of so quality WWE gaming. So getting down to business lets look at Wrestlemania XIX.
Graphics – 8/10
The games predecessor had quite a lot to offer in terms of graphics, but this time round THQ have excelled themselves even further. I know I said last time, but the graphics on this game could possibly be the best graphics of any wrestling game on the market today. Looking at the superstars, the detail is superb; the facial expressions of each superstar are fantastic, much better than last time. Some superstars slightly look too bulky and big, but that’s not really a great problem. Some nice touches are included in the game, for instance Kurt Angle goes for his “special move” he puts the shoulders down on his wrestling attire, much like he does in reality, and when Hulk Hogan makes his way to the ring, he rips of his shirt also like he does on TV, I know they are only little things but they make the game that little bit better for me. The arenas in the game are very good, again all the details has been included to make the game all that more realistic. The lighting effects are excellent as are the pyrotechnics in the superstar’s entrances. One thing that needs a lot of work is the crowd, they look flat, wooden, and more or less lifeless, as most of us have come to expect. Overall the graphics are very good in my opinion; they are slick, smooth, very detailed and just look very realistic.
Sound – 7/10
Again the most notable problem with the sound is the lack of authentic theme songs included in the game. This time, Kane has his old theme, RVD has his music from circa the WCW Invasion 2000, Matt Hardy has some crappy generic theme, and a few others have generic themes. But all the other superstars have their themes included, and yes this time Ric Flair has his correct music, not his old WWF music, so all is not lost. I don’t think the quality of music has changed all that much, well not that I have noticed. The in game music is still the usual generic rock style music, which we have all become accustomed to. A nice little thing is the crowd sound, depending on whether you are a heel or face, you get cheered and booed, for instance if Stone Cold Steve Austin takes on The Rock, the crowd would start to chant “Rocky Sucks! Rocky Sucks!” when Rock gains an advantage. Again no in game play-by-play commentary for this game, personally I wouldn’t look at that negatively, because most of the time the play-by-play is rubbish, and I usually end up turning it off within a few days of getting a game, but it depends on personal taste at the end of the day.
Gameplay – 8/10
When any new wrestling game is released you can guarantee that someone will end up saying “Well the gameplay is rubbish, it nothing like No Mercy”, these people need to realise that the game doesn’t intend to be like No Mercy, although we’d all like it to, No Mercy set the level for wrestling gameplay, and at the moment no game has ever reached that level, and I’m not sure if they ever will in the near future. Wrestlemania X8 however does come considerably close to No Mercy in terms of Gameplay. The gameplay is a much revamped version of Wrestlemania X8, where each superstar has strong and weak grapples, a weak grapple is performed by pressing the A Button plus the direction stick, the strong grapples are performed by holding down the A Button and using the direction stick. There is lots of moves each grappler has, plus a nice counter system, to counter a grapple move you press the R Button, and to counter striking move you press the L Button. Each superstar also has a whole host of other moves, including several special moves, ranging from a running special move such as Goldberg’s spear, or a standard special move such as Undertaker’s last ride. It also possible to steal your opponents “special” move, so Shawn Michaels is able to perform a Stone Cold Stunner on Steve Austin if you desire. There is no system in this game in which a superstar can’t perform a move on their opponent due to weight or height, for instance, it is possible for the Rey Mysterio to perform a powerbomb on the Big Show, again this is not a major problem, but it would be nice if they could have developed some sort of system to prevent it from happening. Overall the gameplay is slower than the Smackdown series and faster than No Mercy, its flows very well and is pretty easy to pick up after a few attempts.
Features – 6/10
Compared to current games on the market this lacks a lot. Firstly there is no career mode or story mode. Instead we have been treated to a “Revenge Mode”, in which you have been fired from the WWE, for some unknown reason by Vince McMahon. Stephanie McMahon gets you on her side and tells you if you complete 25 missions in order to prevent Wrestlemania 19, so Vince McMahon will be financially ruined and he will have to sell the WWE to her, she then will reinstate you. Actually this revenge mode seems as logical and pathetic as the current WWE Storylines. So from then on you have to complete 25 missions in which you complete in a Shopping Mall, Construction site, Harbour and some other places. On each mission you have to complete a task to clear the mission, for instance you might have to beat up and knock out some security men, or demolish Vince’s Wrestlemania signage. Basically, just go around beating up everyone, knocking down the odd sign. Once each section has been completed you win the Revenge level to play on in Exhibition and also you unlock a “Boss” to use in Exhibition mode. Its certainly not for everyone, I suppose its different but not my cup of tea, I’d rather have a good old career mode. Moving on, the game features a tutorial mode with Al Snow, it’s a nice simple extra that lets you get acquainted to the gameplay. There is a King of the Ring Mode where its possible to win the World Heavyweight Championship, World Tag Team Championship, WWE Championship and WWE Tag Team Championships, but basically you just have to complete a tournament to win the belt, and what makes it worse is your not able to defend the belts in exhibition mode. And finally moving on to exhibition mode, its very simple, the games offers standard matches, tag matches, handicap matches, hardcore matches, and gimmick matches such as TLC, Hell in a Cell, First Blood, Cage, and Ironman, Royal Rumble and Table matches. It’s your pretty basic line up, and I like the first blood feature, about time a WWE game has had blood in it once again. Overall very basic features and along way off from the ample features the Smackdown games provide.
CAW mode this time around is not to bad at all. You can customise everything from facial hair, eyebrows, skin colour; face outline, wrinkles and ring attire plus heaps more. It’s a lot like the Smackdown customise mode only not as complex. There is a fair amount of items to choose from, plus you are able to unlock various things from the shopzone. A feature that is cool is the create a logo, in which you are able to create logo and add them onto your superstars ring attire, its pretty much like a painting program on a computer where you can use different tools and text. Once you have created a wrestler with his own unique logo, why not create a unique entrance. Yup, create an entrance feature is one of the coolest parts of the game; you can edit everything, from camera angles, to lighting and pyrotechnics, plus the usual music, videos and taunts. If you desire you could have confetti, fire, fireworks, motorbikes, wide screen type look (i.e. Goldust), anything you want, entirely up to you. Music wise you can have a superstars theme, or a generic theme, however there is only a handful, and it’s the same for videos; choose any of the superstars or a standard WWE logo. On the profile put the name and whether your CAW is a face or heel, depending whether you ant him/her to be cheered or booed. And finally, moves, you can have all sorts of moves pretty much like most games depending on what you want. Also on CAW mode you can edit the current superstars, but only the moves, and face/heel disposition. Overall CAW is far superior to Wrestlemania X8, its come along in leaps and bounds, not as detailed as Smackdown, yet just as good in my opinion.
Roster – 7/10
The game features some of the top talent from both Raw and Smackdown. On the Raw side of things we have the likes of Steve Austin, The Rock, Triple H, Goldberg, Chris Jericho, Kane and Ric Flair, plus many more. Moving across the board to Smackdown, Brock Lesnar, Chris Benoit, The Undertaker and Kurt Angle are all included. Also some new faces appear in this game, such as Chris Nowinski, Batista, John Cena and Chavo Guerrero. They are some notable absences from the game such as Charlie Haas, Shelton Benjamin, Rhyno and a few others. Also Hulk Hogan is included in this game, even though he has once again vacated the WWE rings (for the time being). There is also an option to change a superstar’s attire, but only two per superstar. For me the roster could have included a few more characters, particularly from the Smackdown side of the roster spilt, but never the less it’s not too bad.
Longevity – 6/10
As this game has no career mode it means its going to lack longevity, yes it does have a revenge mode, but once that has been completed, that’s it, you can do it again, but it would be rather pointless, yes you do unlock stupid “Boss” characters, but really they are a waste of time. There really is no incentive to complete the mode, simply because there is no secret characters, no secret modes, and no secret arenas to be unlocked. One thing that may make you keep this game out slightly longer is the trying to raise enough money to unlock all the bits from the shopzone, but really they are just for CAW mode. The CAW is much better than the previous game, so maybe some people will spend time creating their favourite grapplers who aren’t in the game. Basically, the only reason people will play on this game is in Exhibition mode, and after a while that will ware off, as much as I like this game, its not going to be too long before it will be gathering dust, and you’ll be thinking about trading it in.
Overall (Not an Average) – 7/10
Overall, personally I like this game. It’s a huge improvement over Wrestlemania X8, CAW mode has been totally revamped, Revenge mode is passable, the roster offers a pretty good selection of your favourite WWE Superstars (and Triple H), most importantly the gameplay has been revamped, and now its far superior than anything I have played on since No Mercy. Make no mistake, the brains at THQ have got along way to go before getting a first rate game on the Gamecube, but they are on their way, and fingers crossed maybe the next instalment will suffice. I’ll be honest, this game did meet most of my expectations, however that wouldn’t be hard because I was just hoping the game would be better than Wrestlemania X8. Overall, I’d advise any WWE fan that owns a Gamecube to buy this game, or even rent it.