100% Pure Whoop Ass!!!
Okay all you rabid WWF fans out there; here’s the bottom line on WWF War Zone: This game rocks! Stone Cold Steve Austin headlines this fantastically entertaining wrestling title from Acclaim. Believe the hype, folks, this game’s all that and a bag o’ chips.
Don’t pass up this title just because you don’t follow wrestling. I must admit I haven’t followed professional wrestling since I was a kid, and I always thought the video games were more entertaining anyway (I’m not making a judgment here so don’t send me any flame mail, kay?). Arcade titles such as WWF Superstars, Wrestlefest and 94’s WWF game were all games that gave you a lot of bang for your precious quarters. (Who wouldn’t like seeing Undertaker pull off a 13-hit combo with six of those coming from smashing a tombstone over someone’s head.) Like its predecessors, WWF War Zone is top-notch all the way. You gotta love this game for the mere fact that it doesn’t take itself too seriously and its sole purpose is entertaining you. So spend an evening with War Zone and a few friends and whittle the time away by breaking open cans of whoop ass on each other.
The first thing you’ll notice about War Zone is the dizzying array of standard moves available for each wrestler. Then add on all the situational moves, such as when your opponent is unconscious on the mat or reeling against the turnbuckle, etc. As if that’s not enough, you have your choice of different moves within each situation, depending on whether you’re standing near your opponent’s head, mid-section, or legs. You got your Reverse Chinlock. You got your Driving Elbow Smash. You got your Texas Cloverleaf. The variety and possible options in this game are simply astounding. Before you get a little squeamish about learning all the moves, be advised that there is an excellent on-screen moves menu that can be accessed anytime during the game. Forgot how to do that piledriver? Just press Start and find out!
The graphics look good, the textures are smooth, and player movement is gracious. No problems in this area. FMV would’ve been ideal, as in the Playstation version, but alas, the things we cartridge gamers must sacrifice all in the name of graphics…
The sound in this game is terrific. I had to keep reminding myself that this was a cartridge game. Each wrestler has his own signature theme music that plays during the introductions. Most impressively, however, are the fans in the arena. If you want to win those really tough matches, you gotta get the fans on your side. If you play cheesy and cheap shot your opponent, the fans will heckle you, resulting in bonuses for your opponent. Best of all, there are rabid fans in the audience who’ll scream out such eloquent phrases as, “Stone Cold doesn’t suck! YOU suck!” Even female fans get a role with one who has a particular affinity to Shawn Michaels (“Hands off the merchandise!”). The crowds and color commentary, provided by none other than Vince McMahon and Jim Ross hamming it up big time (“Bret Hart’s fighting like a girlie man!”), sound so good, my next door neighbors thought we were watching an actual wrestling match on TV. True, the various phrases of speech are limited and start getting repetitive after a while, but Acclaim did such a good job with it you really don’t mind.
The single-player mode in this game is the only aspect that holds it back from an “A” grade. Don’t get me wrong; the gameplay is fantastic. However, I was expecting the game to let me in on a few secrets once I won two Championship belts. Unfortunately, Acclaim really wants you to shell out the extra cash for the strategy guide. I find this trend to be rather disturbing since you shouldn’t be required to pony up any more green on top of the initial $50-$60 purchase price. The instruction book is paper thin and nothing in the game lets you in on any secret moves. (Fortunately for you, just click here for the latest secrets in this game. But finish reading this before you do.)
This game really shines in the multi-player mode. Take full advantage of the fact that you can play a 4-player tag team match without an expensive multi-tap! Multi-player rivals Goldeneye in gameplay but surpasses it in hilarity and realism (Er…wrestling and realism are mutually exclusive…but you get the idea). If you thought point-blank head shots were painful, wait’ll you get a load of the various holds, pins, and suplex maneuvers. Ouch! After enlisting the help of two of my more than eager roommates to test out the Royal Rumble, Cage, and Weapons matches, we were all on the floor laughing in a matter of minutes (Hey, Luis, try this TV on your head for size. How ya like me now?)
The one thing that mars the gameplay is that it’s difficult to target other opponents than the one the computer selects for you. This gets a little bizarre and frustrating during an all-out Royal Rumble as the computer will stubbornly insist that you fight a certain character even if another one’s closer and also happens to be beating the stuffin’ out of you.
Arguably the most inspired feature on this game is the Create Player mode. Like the other aspects of the game, the possible combinations are staggering. Not only do you get to choose wrestling attributes, individual signature moves, personality, and theme music, but the physical characteristics are by far the most hilarious. You can choose different body types, faces, and skin types (gotta go with hairy). On top of all that, you get to clothe and accessorize your wrestler with different outfits, masks, sunglasses, and tattoos. Whew! Didja get all that? If not, think of it as Fashion Plates but better and infinitely more manly. The best part is that with a little imagination, you can create some of the wrestlers from WWF’s heydey and watch as Big Boss Man once again thunders into the ring. In fact, click here for some great custom creations.
Looking for a new game? Well look no further than WWF War Zone. Even if you’re not a wrestling fan, you just may become one after playing this game. And that’s the bottom line, ’cause Tim said so.