The Rock better take some cooking lessons.
Imagine the bleakest, dustiest and driest of monotonous wastelands. A wasteland complete with gigantic, half sub-terranean skeletons and a searing hot wind that blows black clouds across a white, featureless sky. "Where the hell is the story, the drama," whispers the wind. You scream "I don't know, I've been looking and looking, but the void stretches endlessly forever. There is no God! And the only N64 game I've got on hand to play is (sob).. Wrestlemania 2000."
Wrestlemania 2000 isn't a totally featureless game; in fact, parts of it represent the real-world thing pretty well. However, the wrestlers on TV do stuff other than just fight matches. The endearingly phony fights exist to further involving and interesting stories. On TV the wrestlers have personalities (which are as obviously contrived as the matches), and some of them are pretty interesting. There are good guys and bad guys, and you always want the good guys to win, but then the bad guys pull something sneaky, and it's injustice, and it makes you give a damn...
But there's nothing like that in Wrestlemania 2000. Just match after match after match after match. The wrestlers look different, and there are different kinds of matches, but nothing is ever really on the line except your record and possibly a belt.
For the most part, this game is just an update to WCW/NWO Revenge. The graphics are fine. The wrestlers look like themselves in most cases, and they are superbly animated with nice textures. The only visual blemishes are the character intros. Every single intro is comprised of several horribly defined images strung together in a mockery of ingenuity and creativity. They add nothing to the game other than disappointment.
Wrestlemania's music is weak. The track that plays during the actual matches is short and extremely repetitive. This would be aggravating even if the riffs kicked ass. But Wrestlemania's music is awful from the start. It sounds like SNES music, and by today's standards, it's crap.
In spite of the sub-standard music, the sound effects add to the game tremendously. The muffled "biff" as you strike someone's head and the resounding "chop" that corresponds to a well-executed counter are sufficiently satisfying, and create an impact more real than the "actual" punches thrown at "real" wrestling matches.
The ability to edit and customize wrestlers looks cool, but turns out to be boring and insignificant. Stone Cold looks sort of like Stone Cold, but he is really no different than any other wrestler in the game. With the editing command, you can make moves and characters look different, but the consequences of these changes are merely visual.
The one power contained in the editing command is handicapping. The only way one wrestler can be distinguished from another is if he is made weaker or stronger. You can give a wrestler all knockout moves and make him really fast and tough, or you can give him all lame moves, but he is always essentially the same wrestler as every other.
The reason behind the limitations of the wrestlers and the editing system lies in Wrestlemania's combat system. There are two things horribly wrong with the combat. First is the fact that every wrestler has the exact same moves. They may look different, but all punches, kicks, grabs, and specials are executed in exactly the same way for every wrestler. There are truly only about 30 moves in Wrestlemania 2000 (there are about 200 appearances). The upside is that you can play with any wrestler, and, if you know the moves, can play with them well. But this only appears to be an upside; the fact that every wrestler is identical is really quite a downside.
Wrestlemania's second fighting flaw has to do with the fact that every move can be countered, and that the counters take absolutely no skill to pull off. In fact, no moves in Wrestlemania take any skill to pull off. The counters are only difficult because they have to be executed at a certain time. To become good at Wrestlemania is not to master a fighting style or a series of difficult combos, but instead is to have the deepest knowledge of when to press the "R" button. Such a counter-based combat system makes for some extremely dull fights, since there is no reason to ever attack the other player. Wrestlemania 2000 is a defensively oriented game, and is, because of this, boring.
There is, alas, one tooth without a cavity in Wrestlemania 2000's contaminated mouth, and that is the multiplayer fighting. Now, not all of the multiplayer fighting is good - only the really chaotic stuff like four-player Summer Slam and Royal Rumble. Such matches make no allowance for skill (as soon as "skill" enters a match, excitement leaves), and are best described as totally violent and crazy. They're a lot of fun, but you have to be able to scrape together four players.
WWF Wrestlemania 2000 looks like a solid game, and is chock full of nifty little details. But in this case, the details only accentuate the game's ultimate lack of character, and outline the space that should be filled by good gameplay.