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WWE Survivor Series

Score: 45%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Natsume
Media: Cartridge/1
Players: 1 - 4
Genre: Sports (Wrestling)/ Fighting

Graphics & Sound:

Just in time for the 2004 Survivor Series comes the Game Boy Advance iteration of the WWE Pay-Per-View. A quick search will show that WWE-branded wrestling games havenít fared well on the GBA. WWE Survivor Series takes what is essentially Road to WrestleMania X8 and adds new play modes and a roster featuring the top stars of both RAW and SmackDown!

All of the pageantry that makes the WWE the WWE is lost in Survivor Series, pointing to its main problem -- a lack of personality. Superstars look pretty good, as do the arenas and crowds. The problem comes in when the models move. Characters look good while moving, but have a really odd stiffness to them as if they were action figures with limited flexibility. Everything moves in the correct way, but it all feels very disjointed. Also, all superstars use the same animations, something that should give the game the personality itís lacking. It would be foolish to want something like what is seen in the console wrestling games, but itís clear that more could have been done to kick the game up. Even the WWF games on the SNES and Genesis, like Royal Rumble and the arcade-based series of games (WWF In Your House for example) at least showed a faint pulse...

Sound is workable, featuring a few tracks that play during matches as well as arranged versions of intro music. The music is okay, but I found myself turning it down most of the time since it can get annoying after a few matches. Referee counts and typical punch/kick sounds are also around for the party.


Gameplay:

WWE Survivor Series is split up into two main modes with several match types in each mode. Story mode is the main mode of the game. You begin by selecting a Superstar from either the RAW or SmackDown! rosters. Rosters are limited to 16 wrestlers, and include stars like Shawn Michaels, Randy Orton, Triple H, The Undertaker, and John Cena. After choosing your character, you are given a rundown of the show by either Eric Bischoff or Paul Heyman (depending on which show you start on). After welcoming you to the WWE with a few preliminary warm-up matches, youíll be invited to compete on their shows. Match types include normal, tag, steel cage, hardcore, and submission. Your main goal is to win all three championship belts from a show before crossing over to the other show to compete for its three belts.

Getting a shot at belts is much more difficult than winning matches -- you must also gain a fan following and draw high ratings, which is displayed by your score at the end of a match. In order to up your ratings, you must put on a good show by varying the moves you use during a match, ending matches with your finishing move, and letting your opponent get in a few licks so you can make a big-time comeback during a match. The idea is novel, but doesnít lend much to the gameís replay. Having to fight the same eight characters, while working on your rating, can get incredibly boring, even with varying match types.

Survivor Series also offers a four-player Multiplayer mode. In multiplayer, players can choose to play in all match types available in the Story mode.


Difficulty:

Gaining ratings may sound complicated, but once you figure out the controls and your characterís move-set, itís easy to figure out what to do and when. Beating opponents usually boils down to using the same moves over and over again. The general managers will tell you that doing so will bring down your ratings, but as long as you can change up the order you use moves in, you shouldnít have much of a problem. In addition, using a finishing move to end matches nearly always guarantees that your ratings will soar. If you play the game like a real match, you should go far.

Game Mechanics:

WWE Survivor Series is a bit of throwback to old school wrestling games, in particular, the ones produced by Acclaim back when they held the license. The move list available to characters is impressive, but like the Acclaim games, itís nearly impossible to pull off a large number of them. The control scheme isnít too complicated, but the sluggish response from characters between button presses and action kills any excitement that could come from a match.

The moves system is pretty basic. The face buttons allow you to punch and grapple your opponent. After entering a grapple, you can usually follow it through with another move, although the response is so slow, youíll either have the move broken or reversed before you even finish inputting the combo. After wearing your opponent down, you can pull off your signature move and win. The move-set is deep, but youíll really only need to use a few of the easier moves and your finisher to beat an opponent.

As far as wrestling games go, WWE Survivor Series isnít one of the best to come along -- even on the GBA. As the console wrestling games continue to evolve, handheld versions remain in Darwinís waiting room. The past shows that itís possible to do a great wrestling game on an ďunder-poweredĒ system -- hereís to hoping that the developers realize that. Even the most hardcore of wrestling fans should avoid this one.


-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

Sony PlayStation 2 Shin Megami Tensei: Nocturne Sony PSOne Boombots

 
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