The only thing missing is the steroids!
The world of “professional” wrestling is a strange one to say the least. Where else do you see two huge men pretending to hit each other in a boxing ring with a referee whose sole purpose is to ignore the rules? (how about the GR office? – the Masked Ed.) The video game is more realistic than the actual act! Yet pro wrestling is one of those guilty pleasures that we all admit to partaking in at one time or another. Yes, it’s true… I too was once a WWF junkie.
Needless to say, I was looking forward to Acclaim’s WWF War Zone – promising to bring back those fond memories of DDTs and pile-drivers. With sixteen different wrestlers, an option to create your own wrestler, and four player action, who could resist? Not I.
WWF War Zone has almost every option a wrestling fan could hope for in a game: tag teams, free-for-all matches, weapon matches, steel-cage matches, and a career mode that leads to the WWF Championship Belt. The wrestlers you can choose from are: Stone Cold, Shawn Michaels, Mosh, Thrasher, Kane, Ken Shamrock, The Undertaker, Owen Hart, Bret Hart, Ahmed Johnson, Rocky, Mankind, Triple H, Golddust, Farooq, and the British Bulldog. Each wrestler has a trademark move, different abilities, a theme song, and trash-talking video clips.
For those not adept in the ways of wrestling, the goal of a match is to pin your opponent, but not before inflicting as much pain as possible. In tag team matches, two teams of two wrestlers battle it out. Only one person is supposed to be in the ring at a time, but this is definitely a flexible rule. In free-for-all matches, both tag teams can enter the ring at the same time. Weapons matches are against WWF rules, but happen all the time regardless. Chairs used as bats are often the norm, but in this game, even televisions find their way into the ring. Finally, steel-cage matches turn the ring itself into a weapon. The first wrestler who climbs out of the cage wins. Two to four players can participate in all of these matches, except the career mode. Three or four players can also participate in an ‘every man for himself’ match.
Yes, there are plenty of ways to fulfill your wrestling needs in War Zone, but one of coolest features in the game is the ability to create your own wrestler. Your own WWF abomination can be customized down to every last detail: facial attributes, theme music, personality, special moves, and clothes to name a few. I won’t tell you how, but there’s even a secret that allows you to create a female wrestler. War Zone is fun for both sexes!
In the graphics department, War Zone is a wrestling fan’s dream. All of the wrestlers are 3D models and look just like their real-life counterparts. The hundreds of moves are apparently motion-captured and are straight out of the WWF. To put it best: it looks like an N64 game. What makes the Playstation version better than the N64’s is video footage for each fighter, and the special footage seen while playing a career.
The sounds are also amazing in War Zone. The crowds cheer for their favorites, begging them to perform their special move. In addition, each wrestler has personal grunts, screams, and taunts. Shivers will run down your spine when you hear Golddust scream in agony. Live commentary is provided by Vince McMahon and Jim Ross, and is the best commentary I’ve heard in any sports game. They’re constantly commenting on the fight in different ways and keep the game as close to a real match as possible. John Madden, look out!
Gameplay in War Zone is also nearly flawless. The action is fast and furious; my hands were aching from pounding buttons after my first hour playing. Even when four players crowd the screen, the pace barely lags. All of the special throws and grabs are easily performed by button and directional combinations. There is even a training mode to help you learn the moves. This is an easy game to start off playing, but there is definitely technique to be learned.
There are a few things that keep War Zone from being a perfect game.
For one, the hit detection is sometimes off. This seems to happen a lot in tag-team
matches: you choose which opponent you’re attacking, and any stray hits that
should damage the other guy don’t make contact. There are also some random gameplay
glitches, where wrestlers get confused and perform moves the wrong way. In addition,
tagging your partner isn’t always intuitive or easy to perform. Finally, I wished
there were a Royal Rumble to play, but they can put that in the sequel.
If it isn’t clear already, WWF War Zone is a great game. It is in fact the best wrestling game I’ve ever played and is one of my favorite Playstation games. If you’re at all interested in wrestling, definitely buy this game. Heck, everyone should check this game out. It’ll have you screaming and laughing with all your friends in no time.