Okay, first of all, let me start by stating that I am not a big wrestling fan. I watched the show for about a year (during senior year at high school) and it kept my attention for a little while, but as I grew older it just seemed too stupid and pointless to keep up with.
I am not trying to knock anyone who still watches wrestling, but it’s simply just not for me. In other words, I’m not a big wrestling fan but that shouldn’t stop me from enjoying what is ‘supposed’ to be a great Xbox title, right?
I had to test a theory that I came up with while visiting my local Funcoland, “Could this WWF game rekindle my interest for wrestling, or could this title keep me from enjoying what is supposed to be a good game merely because I’m not up to speed on who’s the current champion, or who’s screwing over who?” Hell! I dunno, but there is only one way to find out.
The WWF Raw title screen is terrible. I mean, damn, after having this game pushed back for such a long period of time you’d think that the first image on screen would be amazing, right? Wrong! Whoever worked on the menu screens of this game should be shot. After toggling through the menu I finally picked a character–hum, let’s see now, The Rock looks pretty realistic as he walks through the arena but the crowd look horrid. Firstly, the crowd isn’t detailed at all, and then we’re shown four or five basic camera views looking at the crowd, and all of them ending with the view where the light hits your eyes–terrible. I hope that this wasn’t suppose to be a launch title, I think not. Did I mention the music? No, because guess what? It’s terrible. Who did the music for this game? I guess the lack of napster is hitting us in even more places than we thought, eh? The little movies in the back of the main menu are a nice effect but I sure as hell hope that isn’t what delayed this game’s release. If it was the reason that WWF Raw was pushed back, then we’re not too much further away than those Sega cd days as we thought we were.
OK, the fact that I’ve left the main menu screen on for some three minutes and the music hasn’t changed once is beginning to bother me. Why not give us the option of putting our own music into the game? Utilize the Xbox’s damn hard drive that we had to pay for! I mean, come on, what’s the point in designing games for the most powerful and technologically advanced video game system in the world if you’re not going to use at least half of its potential?
Now that I have completely toggled through the options menu, let me report on what I found. There is exhibition, title match, king of the ring and a lot of subcategories under each option. Not bad, although the game is lacking a career mode. It would have been nice to create a wrestler and then have him guide him or her through the wrestling ranks. I picked random super stars to fight: The Rock vs. Billy Gunn, who looks like a cake so I should be able to kick his ass with the corporate/people’s champ, right? The screen after you pick your character truly sucks. If they’re going to make something look like that on a 128bit console they need not bother including it. Now, The Rock’s intro is impressive; it almost feels as though I’m in that arena with all those wrestling fans (not saying that’s a good thing). Once again the developers have done a terrible job on the crowd. It amazes me that, technologically, we are using 128bit systems and the wrestlers’ arms are still not moving to grab the rope in order to get in and out of the ring. Damn, another tight intro: Billy Gunn has a nice intro, but I hope this isn’t what he really does when he enters the ring. The interference is a very nice option to have in the game. Also, depending on who is coming into the ring, the photo cameras in the audience flash much more than when a no-name comes in.
After my first match I must admit that I had fun. I actually had a tough battle inside the ring. While inside the ring, the characters look amazing. The graphics are well done and a lot of time and precision has gone into them. My only gripe at this point of the game was that I was kicking Gunn’s ass yet his meter kept going up and he pinned me. The taunts inside the game are great, too. The crowd actually responds to them. The controls were pretty easy to pick up. I didn’t study the instructions too strictly but just played more through trial and error. THQ have done a nice job using the Xbox controller. Also the replay cam is pretty nice how it shows the replay (yet you’re still wrestling), and takes your eyes away from the bout without lagging the game at all. Word to the wise: the computer has attacked me every time when the replays come on, so watch out!
Are the managers at ringside for any reason whatsoever? I have yet to see them attack me, or the computer controlled wrestlers. Why include them unless they’re actually going to do something! I’m on to my second match of the game: Austin and HHH. Austin walks a little funny, almost like a robot, but his intro is still pretty cool. The Big Show (my manager) actually steps over the ropes, which is well observed. The graphics are not so bad for a first generation wrestling game. HHH walks straight and true, not at all like Austin’s robot waddle. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times, these arenas and crowds suck. Does Edge (HHH’s manager) really wear such a ‘flamboyant’ uniform? I like how different people have different arm spans, and strengths, and weaknesses. The individual signature moves look pretty good, too. It looks as though the developers took a lot of time making sure that everyone’s signature moves were captured perfectly. As of right now, my only ‘major’ gripe is that I can be winning the match hands down–yet I still end up getting pinned. THQ have done an awful job on the sound, it’s not just the music that sucks, but also the in-game sound effects, too. I guess they didn’t have any money left over to hire someone credible to do the game’s music. There isn’t any point in me having surround sound while playing WWF Raw, I mean, this is supposed to be a comparitive sports game so why isn’t the sound at least at the quality level of, say, NBA Live, John Madden, or any other EA Sports title. If THQ are not going to give us good sound and music then at least give us the option of putting in our own music!
What’s with the Matrix-like effect of people running out during the interference? Do people actually like that? Why haven’t I heard the crowd cheering anyone’s name yet? Some of the weapons are stupid, I mean, come on now, a foam finger? The jumbotron is lovely, though, and so are the fireworks that go off when a wrestler comes to the ring. Is it just me, or do the wrestlers get fatigued? Not a bad feature, I suppose. But why can’t I go backstage, or go run around a EMSA, or even fight in a bathroom like I’ve seen on other wrestling titles? It is definitely the little things that count, and Raw is missing too many of the tiny details that make a wrestling game an ‘authentic’ experience. Granted, the game is fun and gives you a few good laughs, but how long will it last? For a first generation game I suppose it’s fine, but this is the Xbox–we shouldn’t have to settle for a delayed piece of crap with a WWF title stamped on it.
WWF Raw has little or no replay value at all. I soon found myself tired of the game after just one or two days of play. Good thing I got the game at Funcoland! Form your own opinion of the game, though, but perhaps you’d be wise to rent it before you think about a purchase. Terrible!