For some reason unknown to me, professional wrestling is one of the most popular forms of entertainment around. The fans are loyal and the rivalries are unparalleled. Insulting someone's favorite wrestlers ranks up there with slamming on their mothers. You just don't do it. I guess this explains the tremendous success of all wrestling games on the PSX regardless of the quality of the game. As usual, THQ is at the head of the pack since they hold the licensing for the WCW and as usual, the game is selling like there is no tomorrow.
WCW Nitro takes all of your favorite wrestlers from the WCW or NWO and throws them in the ring with plenty of gameplay options to keep things somewhat interesting. We are talking tag teams, tournaments and expositions that let you attempt to pile drive yourself to the top of the standings. Variable match lengths let you slam it out for as short or as long as you wish. If this is not enough, grab one of your buddies and see who has the most skills. The best part of it is that you don't even have to pump the steroids because it is already done for you!
One of the biggest draws of WCW Nitro is the number of available wrestlers. The game starts with 16 available but I have heard that the number reaches nearly 50 when you unlock them either via codes or by winning. The 16 available wrestlers from the start are familiar to even me, a pronounced wrestling illiterate. You have Hollywood Hogan, Ric Flair, Randy Savage and Lex Luger just to name some of the biggies. I am sure that if you are a fan of wresting, you will really enjoy the ability to pick one of these wrestlers and kick the crap out of your most hated rival.
The game does have a number of different play modes and each has it ups and downs. The best mode would have to be the tournament mode. This allows you to pick a wrestler and try to win 10 matches to win the belt. This offered the most challenge and it was pretty fun trying to make it through with the different wrestlers. The other mode that you will spend some time on is the tag-team mode. This allows you to pick your two favorite good guys and pit them against your two most hated bad guys. This mode was fun but unfortunately you could only play a single match. It would have been cool to play a tag team tournament and see if you could not win the tag team belt. Since wrestling tag team required more strategy than single wrestling, it would have been a great addition to the game.
So now you know who is wrestling and how they can wrestle but you still don't know how the actual wrestling feels. Well, to be quite honest, it felt fine at times and sluggish at others. You have a complete arsenal of moves that you can pull off but sometimes pulling them off is a pain. I found that I would only use the same moves over and over because some of the other moves were difficult to pull off. I will readily admit that I have never been good a combos in other games and this holds true in this one. Although the moves required only a few button pushes at most, it was easiest to go back to the moves I was familiar with. Some of the moves were pretty cool when you pulled them off and the cracking sounds when you execute a back breaker was definitely sweet.
Like I mentioned above, the game felt sluggish at times. I like games that have no lag time between pushing the buttons and having the move happen. At times, this game had some serious lag. I don't know if that was intentional, like simulating fatigue, but I did not particularly like it. When I hit the buttons, I want the player to react right then. There were times that I would hit a certain combo and I would wait to see if it actually took before my character performed (or did not) the move. I thought this was a little frustrating but it seems to be a common thing in wrestling games.
One thing that I thought was really cool in the game was that you could set it to have surprise attacks. This meant that if you were kicking the crap out of you opponent (computer only), occasionally there would be a surprise attack. The camera would zoom back and you would see somebody running down the ramp and jump in the ring and start beating on you. You were forced to fight against two guys for a short time until the surprise attacker ran back out of the ring. This was cool for two reasons. First, it made it like real (I use the word real very loosely) wrestling. They always have some guy or gal running in to try and save the day. The second reason it was cool is because it always kept you trying to put your opponent away as quickly as you could. I learned the hard way that it is not always best to beat you opponent senseless because you just never know when one of his buddies is going to come racing down the ramp and help even things up a bit.
Aside from the sluggish reactions, I did not have any real complaints with the game. Since I am not a real big wrestling fan, I did not really know who was good or bad. It would have been nice to have a graph that showed the strengths and weaknesses of the different wrestlers so you had a better idea what the wrestler was capable of. Since some wrestlers were slower than others, it would have been nice to know what to expect.
This is one of the shining areas of the game. The wrestlers all looked great, down to the steroid and tanning bed enhanced details of their muscles. I really liked the fluidity of the movements and when you pulled off moves, they looked very good. There was never really any noticeable slowdown in terms of graphics. The different rings also looked cool but there is really not much that you can do to a ring to make it look different.
I guess that if you are a wrestling fan, you will really dig this game. Since I am not, I found it fun for a bit but tired of it fairly soon. Since I have no loyalties or opinions to any of the wrestlers, it really did not draw me in like a football or baseball game would, although football and baseball are sports, not acting. Anyway, I wish the moves would have been a little quicker to execute instead of being so sluggish. All in all, this is one of the better wrestling games around but if you are not a fan, you may tire of it.