Wrestling: Past and Future Feature - 06/03/08

7 years ago I was still in high-school when I reviewed my first wrestling game "WCW Backstage Assault", a lot of water went under the bridge in the years that passed but for the first time in a long time the world of wrestling videogames is about to change.

Since "Backstage Assault" we haven't seen a promotion based wrestling game compete with the Smackdown franchise (what we saw was "Legends of wrestling" which wasn't based on a real wrestling promotion), the appearance of "TNA Impact" and "Fire Pro Returns" in North America could really push the wrestling games into the next-generation, and I'm not mentioning "Pro Wrestling X" which is scheduled to be released soon.

Back in 2000 when "Smackdown 2 - Know your role" hit the market, it was innovative in terms of match types (Ladder, Table, and more), open ended season mode and much more (its counterpart was the highly recommended "No Mercy" for the Nintendo 64). WCW game wasn't even in the league of the Smackdown franchise. Time has passed and many smackdown games have hit the market and we definitely saw improvement over the years such as new match types, online gameplay and more.

The smackdown series sells millions of copies and rightfully so, but in the past years I live with the feeling that the games are getting stale, we see the same pattern being used every year even if it causes problems in terms of updated roster, bad commentary and more.

You suck, you suck, you suck, you suck...etc

Video Gamers still remember their reaction to the news that the NFL 2K series was cancelled due to EA's exclusive deal with the National Football League, the freshness of the 2k series really elevated football games, and that's where "TNA Impact" comes to play, Midway has the chance to show the fans that there is an alternative for the Smackdown series, by alternative I mean, a game that would appeal to the hardcore wrestling gamers (chain- wrestling, online e-feds and more), and to the casual fans as well (easy to pick gameplay, innovative match-types and more), the word alternative is pretty big, however the most important aspect of the game should be the gameplay, this would be the first TNA game and first impressions are very important (many of the criticism towards "Heavenly Sword" was due to a very disappointing demo), getting the basic of the game right is the core of success, afterwards we can talk about match types, graphics, online features and more.

TNA Impact's graphics look noticeably better

THQ's decision to export the smackdown series to all videogames consoles instead of making a game for each console didn't make the games better, yeah there are some exclusive features to the next-generation consoles but they are not groundbreaking, by focusing on one game instead of three I definitely thought that we would see more animations, new match types and of course better season mode.

In conclusion, the world of wrestling videogames won't change in the upcoming months; it's all about consistency, a solid game from Midway could really change the landscape of wrestling videogames in the future.

- Oren Nathan.