WWF WrestleMania 2000

a game by AKI Corporation

Platform: Nintendo 64Nintendo 64

Genre: Sports

See also: Championship Games, WWF Games

The Hard Pay

Reckon those WWF script writers don't know a wristlock from a wrist watch? Ever watched Wrestlemania and thought you could do a better job? Then the pay-per-view mode is for you I This option allows you to come up with your own line-up for a huge grappling extravaganza. You can put any of the dozens of wrestlers in matches with any of the other wrestlers, including cage, tag or three- way bouts. You and some mates can take control of each of the grapplers or, should you just want to put your feet up, you can watch the CPU characters going at it

ANIA

Acclaim's recent WWF Attitude finally managed to prove that wrestling games are more than just dodgy, second-rate beat- 'em-ups featuring fat blokes in pants. With its fantastic selection of grapplers, lush visuals, ace create-a-player mode and huge range of single and multiplayer options. Attitude immediately became the definitive canvas-slammer.

Wrestle mania 2000 is not its follow- up. though, but the first WWF game from new licence-holders THQ, who previously furnished the N64 with a range of technically woeful, but nonetheless sturdy WCW titles.

As you'd expect from any rasslin' game worth its lycra, there are tonnes of different modes on offer. Alongside the standard single and tag matches, there are also three-way and cage bouts - with a huge number of options to fiddle with - as well as nail-biting knockout tournaments and all-for-all Royal Rumbles, which give you the chance to indulge in some over- the-top-rope battle elimination action.

Easily the best of the single player modes, though, is the Road to Wrestlemania, where you start life as a lower-tier squash-boy and then work your way up to headlining Wrestlemania. You never know what's in store for you next; a cage match on Raw or a tag match at a house show.

There are seven different arenas to fight in - from those of the TV shows Raw is War and Sunday Night Heat, to the huge events such as Summerslam or the Survivor Series - and, although they have no real effect on the matches themselves, other than offering you a slightly different environment to grapple in, the choice on offer is staggering.

The characters are pleasingly sizeable and, although this doesn't quite have the edge on Attitude's hi-res capering, the brilliantly individual and, unlike many grappling games, where the characters look like they've been shaped from pipe cleaners, you really do get a feel for the oversized nature of the WWF 'superstars'. And there's a lot of them. All the various factions, such as the Ministry and The Brood are included, while virtually every WWF character you care to mention is featured at one point or another (and there are a stack of secrets to uncover, too). These range from headliners Such as The Rock, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin and The Undertaker down to lesser mortals such as Viscera, Mark Henry and the Blue Meanie.

Attitude's beat-'em-up style combos have been dropped in favour of a more simple tap of the action button and analogue pad, but this simplistic approach does provide hardcore fans with a more satisfying fight. It's certainly not the most intuitive control system ever devised and it doesn't prevent the uninitiated from ending up performing plenty of random pad-pounding, but it does provide a top wrestling 'feel'. Not least because the moves are actually more wrestling-based than those in Attitude. As opposed to an emphasis on kicking and punching, WWF provides the opportunity to perform suplexes, inside cradles and a couple of hundred other famed rasslin' manoeuvres.

It's still not really possible to have much of a tactical battle, though. Each wrestler's energy meter recovers so quickly that nothing short of some all-out frenzied wrestling GBH is enough to ensure that your opponent stays down for the three- count. It's amazingly hard work to inflict any significant damage against another wrestler. If your opponent manages to seize even a minor respite they will quickly return to virtually full strength again. While this may accurately mirror the miraculous comebacks that are possible in the unpredictable world of 'sports- entertainment', it can make matches very long-winded affairs. This is a particular problem in multiplayer games, which can wrestler. If your opponent manages to seize even a minor respite they will quickly return to virtually full strength again. While this may accurately mirror the miraculous comebacks that are possible in the unpredictable world of 'sports- entertainment', it can make matches very long-winded affairs. This is a particular problem in multiplayer games, which can last for several hours unless one player is considerably better than the other.

But WWF Wrestlemania 2000 is still one of the best wrestling games yet, rivalled only by Attitude for its sheer amount of features and options. Admittedly it doesn't really have anything to offer that we haven't seen before (which means there's certainly room for improvement next time round), but if you're gagging for a new wrestling fix, WWF Wrestlemania 2000 will fit the bill just nicely. Highly recommended.

Monster man

No rasslin' title is complete these days without the ubiquitous create-a-freak mode, and Wrestlemania is no exception. It's possible to either start with a blank 'template' or customise an already-existing grapple-merchant Not only can you alter a character's appearance, you can also choose their entrance music and video as well as fiddling with their moves and fighting style. This includes such peculiar features as ring entry, where you can pick 'jump', 'leap frog' and 'women' (I?), and bleeding, for which you are able to choose 'rarely', 'normal' or 'often'. Nice. You can also pick accessories for your character to enter the ring with such as a tongfar, a head or a pet bottle. True!

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