WCW fans, are you rrrrready to rrrrrumble? Electronic Arts' first foray into the seldom dull, occasionally surreal world of sports entertainment, WCW Mayhem, is nearing completion, and it looks like it's going to be as hardhitting as a folding chair to the noggin.
Although THQ has already released three successful WCW titles for the N64, EA wanted to wipe the slate clean and build the kind of wrestling game it believes the fans want: a fast, grappling-based game with intuitive controls and easy-to-execute moves.
Rather than cram every conceivable gimmick match and option into Mayhem in the attempt to one-up some of the second- and third-generation wrestling titles on the market, EA is taking a long-haul approach to its newest franchise. The goal is to establish a highly playable, rock-solid foundation and build on that in the future.
That's not to say that Mayhem will resemble the staid, "scientific" wrestling of yesteryear; as previously reported, the action frequently spills out of the ring, up the entrance ramp, and into one of 12 randomly selected combat zones, including a locker room, boiler room, ticket office, infirmary and even the parking lot. Here you'll find an assortment of non-sanctioned weapons like crutches, guitars and baseball bats. One thing you won't see, however, is blood. WCW apparently was more than a little surprised to see "juice" in the two previous N64 titles, created by Japanese developers Aki/Asmik, and have barred it from subsequent games.
On the plus side, you do get more than 50 of WCW's biggest and baddest grapplers, each capable of performing 30 to 40 bone-crushing moves in addition to his real-life finishing move. Each star was photographed extensively to provide the highest-quality textures, while the game's motion data was provided by WCW Power Plant instructor "Sergeant" Buddy Lee Parker; high-flying luchador Lizmark, Jr.; newcomer Lash Larieux; and ring veteran "Beautiful" Bobby Eaton (who looks like he's done plenty of "eaton" lately, judging by the size of his gut). A few A-list guys like Goldberg, Konnan and Bam Bam Bigelow also lent their talents to the game, mostly to insure their on-screen counterparts do them justice. (Incidentally, EA says Bam Bam is a huge gamer. He plays with his PlayStation so incessantly his wife has begged EA to stop sending him free games!)
Among the game's 15 unique arenas are the brand-new Monday Nitro set and 12 pay-per-view settings. The classic Nitro set, which the developers fully rendered before learning it was to be replaced, also is hidden somewhere in the game. For the PPV arenas, EA was allowed to extrapolate on WCW's real-life sets, making them even more outlandish and colorful than the real things.
Perhaps inspired by Acclaim's WWF Attitude, EA has added an elaborate Create-A-Wrestler Mode. Players can create their own musclebound monsters with textures ranging from realistic to downright scary, assign a move set and a finishing move, and finally name their creations. If you pick one of several canned names like "Mauler" or common names such as "Mike" or "Steve," announcer Tony Schiavone will even say your creation's name while calling the action, which is great unless your name happens to be Che or Crispin...
Match types include one-on-one, tag team, triangle and Raven's Rules, named after WCW hardcore star Raven. In these matches, weapons are legal, and falls count outside the ring or outside the building, for that matter.
The game also has a Quest for the Best Mode, in which the player attempts to rise from lowly jobber to world champion. There are two different divisions in this mode, Cruiserweight and Heavyweight; however, to win the world title as a Cruiserweight you eventually must go up against much larger wrestlers from the Heavyweight division.
As for gameplay, WCW Mayhem seems to lie somewhere between WCW/nWo Revenge and WWF Attitude in terms of complexity. What truly sets Mayhem apart, however, is its speed; the game is fairly fast, it almost has more in common with traditional fighting games than some of the slower wrestling titles of the past.
Although it can't be seen in these screens, a momentum meter that governs your wrestler's performance will be included in the final game. Aside from that, no other gauges or meters will clutter the screen. Occasionally, different pop-up messages will appear, urging you to pin an opponent or reverse a move.
The N64 version of WCW Mayhem will contain almost all of the audio found in its PlayStation counterpart (also scheduled for an October release) with one notable exception: no Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. Given the space restrictions of a i6*Meg cart (compared to a 640-Meg CD), something had to go, and that something was the Brain. Even so, the game contains several thousand lines of commentary from Mr. Schiavone. Additionally, ring announcements are made by the perpetually tan "Mean" Gene Okerland, who also appears in the game as a hidden wrestler.
Another glaring omission (at least in Dan Hsu's opinion): no Nitro Girls! One development team member who shall remain nameless did confess, however, that the spandex-clad dancers were photographed for the game--twice! After the first session, the dancers were told that the original negatives were "accidentally" ruined. Oops...
Will WCW Mayhem join Madden, Triple Play and NBA Live atop EA's list of category-leading franchises? While the game won't eclipse the likes of WWF Attitude in the sheer number of options, EA seems to have succeeded in creating a solid foundation on which to build for the future.
- MANUFACTURER - Kodiak
- THEME - Wrestling
- NUMBER OF PLAYERS - 1-4
Download WCW Mayhem
For all you wrestling fans out there, Electronic Arts (EA) has released its first wrestling game. EA has dominated the sports video game section in toy stores for a long time now. Now they are finally bringing you Mayhem. WCW Mayhem features almost 60 wrestlers from Goldberg and Sting to Rey Mysterio and Raven -- even going the length to create a character for "Mean" Gene Okerlund.
If you watch wrestling, you know that the business is very unpredictable. It's sometimes hard to keep up with who is who and where they stand. So naturally this video game is going to suffer from that unpredictability. But with the right combination of gameplay and other cool gimmicks, EA will have you coming back for more. It seems that EA has found the right solution.
When I first powered-up this game, I couldn't wait to give the belt to Goldberg. In order to do so, I would first have to start from the bottom and work my way up, while at the same time quickly learn the controls. It takes maybe a dozen matches or so to get the hang of things, but once you get the controls down, there will be no stopping you. Matches take place on Monday Nitro, Thursday Thunder, Saturday Night, and 12 different Pay-Per-View events including Mayhem (of course). EA also allows you to fight backstage in places like bathrooms, locker rooms, garages, and many others.
I started on easy mode, but that was just was too easy. I saw Goldberg's infamous spear and jackhammer about a million times. The computer didn't have a chance. After changing the difficulty, the computer opponent did get tougher. However, on the hardest level of difficulty the computer is almost impossible to beat even while fighting the lowest ranked wrestlers. I found it kind of hard to believe that Goldberg had a difficult time beating the easiest of foes. But hey, this is wrestling right?
After going through the game with Goldberg a few times, I decided to try out the other wrestlers. I found that EA did a tremendous job recreating the moves in video game format. They did a great job with all the finishing moves and taunts for all the characters. They even seemed to get Wrath's Meltdown correct. It's better to start off using big name wrestlers instead of the smaller cruiser weights because most of the cruiser weight moves are submission and pin moves, not the bigger and more flashy moves like Macho's Elbow and Total Package's torturous Rack.
The best part of the whole game is fighting backstage. Forget the traditional ring matches, go fight in the bathrooms or a media room. With plenty of weapons offering different degrees of damage, you are sure to have a great time beating up just about anybody. It's a good idea to take your opponent back there, especially as you work your way up to the harder levels because your opponents will get increasingly harder. It's a fabulous new feature that should set another standard to be included with all wrestling games. You can still use all the basic moves backstage, but why would you want to do that with so many weapons available for your usage. Only a weenie would opt not to use the foreign objects given to you for the soul purpose of whoopin' some, well, you know. But don't get too carried away, the computer learns fast and will reverse the beating, giving a good effort to stop you dead in your tracks.
Another twist on the gameplay is that every once in a while a run-in will occur. If you are beating up on an opponent too badly, a member of the same affiliation will run in and try to save the cause. On a few rare occasions a random character will run in to help you out and deal out some pain on your opponent. It's fun to see who the computer will pick to team-up with you.
EA included a Pay-Per-View Password Mode. It lets you enter a password given to you during each WCW PPV Wrestling event and play four matches off the card during that PPV event. For example, if Buff Bagwell is to fight Brett Hart on the next Starrcade, all you have to do is enter in the code and the computer will set up the Arena and the four matches for you. Just a little bit more realism added by EA to this game.
There are not very many drawbacks to this game. I did notice that the gameplay would sometimes glitch and really strange things would happen. I know it occurs in all games, but it seemed to happen a lot. They are not really major glitches, but they do get annoying at times. Another drawback is that EA did not include a way to change the default outfit for the wrestlers. With wrestlers changing their outfits and affiliations all the time, you are stuck with the outfit EA gave each of the wrestlers. There are some alternate uniforms, but you will have to unlock them by completing certain tasks. You can create a custom character, but with limited memory in the game you have limited options for your wrestler.
Graphics & Audio
The quality of the sound is important when determining an average game from an outstanding game. As usual, Tony Schiavone is going crazy and sometimes seems like he is going to pee his pants all throughout the game, almost as if we were live on TV. Always talking trash, getting overexcited, and running his mouth off just at the right times. He and "Mean" Gene provide you with commentary from start to finish of each match. Gene provides the introductions, specific rules to the match, and the winner(s). Tony fills in everything in between.
The wrestlers move smoothly around the arena. Sometimes the wrestlers look a little weird when standing still, but EA included over 900 motion-captured scenes that give you just about all the moves in WCW, which made me look right through the strange renditions of each character. It's just a video game and not the real thing. From throwing your opponent into the ropes to sliding back into the ring, each character moves very fluidly once they start wrestling.
Mayhem has the best announcing I have ever heard in a wrestling game. The game seems to get me through the days when there isn't any wrestling on TV. Tony and Gene make me feel as if I was actually watching the match. I loved the idea of including the backstage rooms and arsenal of weapons available in them. I don't even play in the ring that much anymore because it's too much fun to throw my opponent around in the various backstage settings. The gameplay controls are just as bad as any other wrestling game, but it would have helped if all the companies making the wrestling games would set the buttons the same so learning the buttons would be a lot easier. You'll get used to it, eventually. WCW Mayhem has great multiplayer replay value, but the single player mode gets pretty boring after awhile because of the less than average create-a-player section. It pretty much makes you play the same characters over and over again. Nevertheless, WCW Mayhem is a great game to play with your buddies and will keep you going all through the night.
The PlayStation version is almost identical to its Nintendo 64 brother (whose preview you can read in this issue). Naturally, due to the CD format, this version has full-motion video sequences (including a bizarre, futuristic CG intro) and more voices (which are very well done). Otherwise, everything else is the same, from the number of wrestlers included to the various modes of play.
Electronic Arts is publishing and Kodiak is developing this one- to four-player game (due in October).
At first glance, Mayhem looks like a sure-fire champ, with very fast and smooth animations (much faster than Attitude), and easy-to-jump-into gameplay and controls (like Revenge on the N64). After a little ringtime, however, the problems surface. Mayhem won't be robbing Attitude (or even War Zone) of any titles. The biggest problems are the polygon clipping and collision detection. Moves will go through character models almost any chance they could get. It's rather sloppy and unpleasant to watch. Other things detract from the experience, like: cheap run-in partners that stick around for waaay too long...lengthy load times (Everywhere! Even to change a hair style in Create-A-Player)...a slow and useless block button...how easy it is to get pushed into a turnbuckle (even if you're not whipped into it), and how much a weak, sitting duck that makes you...a limited Create-A-Player mode (when compared to Attitude's)...too few modes of play and options...and so on. But a few things may make Mayhem worth checking out, like a cool Pay-Per-View mode that you can update with codes from wcwmayhem.com, and the chance to fight in non-ringside locales. The real reason to get Mayhem, though, is if you want a simple game to get into that emphasizes easy-to-pull-off moves over memorization of long moves lists.
How much slower could the load times be? What's going on? The whole thing is slow, clunky, seriously dummied-down and half the time you don't feel like it's actually doing what you're telling it to. There are some nice camera angles used throughout, but this doesn't compensate for the glitchy graphics and stripped-down features. Even the create-a-wrestler mode is disappointing. We couldn't even make a passable Elephant-Sak.
I've never seen a wrestling match in real life that's lasted longer than 5-8 minutes, but boy, some of the battles in this one can go on for a looooong time. I'd find myself getting moves off that would go right through my opponents, only to be countered by the CPU. And what's with the load times? If four people want to go at it with created wrestlers, you've gotta wait for everything to load up. This one just didn't excite me much.
This game's developers claim they wanted to make a fast playing, easy-to-get-into wrestling title. And yep, the gameplay here does move pretty quick. But even though you only have to learn a few button combos to pull off moves, control feels sloppy, and I often fett (ike I was performing moves by accident. Collision detection is a bit messy. The game lacks polish. It needs more multiplayer modes and options if it's going to compete with Attitude.
Here are the first screenshots of WCW Mayhem for the N64. Developed by Kodiak, Mayhem has everything you've come to expect from a wrestling video game, like TV venues (Nitro, Thunder, etc.), pay-per-view events, secret wrestlers and even create-a-wrestler.
The game will put a lot of emphasis on outside-of-the-ring action--fights can break out anywhere, from backstage to locker rooms to parking lots (although you probably won't find any septic trucks around...). The gameplay mechanics will include simple style controls (like in Revenge) and more complex joystick combos (like in War Zone) to suit both casual and more hardcore gamers.
WCW Mayhem is due out this October from EA and will be for one to four players.
In the same way that a fight between two six-packed wrestlers might be interrupted by a third fighter scampering into the ring, EA have leapt into a gaming arena that's previously been reserved for 'rasslin stalwarts Acclaim and THQ. Thankfully, WCW Mayhem is good enough to avoid EA ending up lying in a pool of blood and bones on the floor.
There's plenty that we don't like about Mayhem. The 60+ wrestlers are squat, swollen-headed dwarfs, who slide around the ring like they're on rollerskates. The number of options is extremely limited - aside from changing rope break and submission rules, the volume of the crowd is just about the only customisable feature. And there's an unforgiveable loading delay before each match, where the screen goes completely black except for a 'Please Wait' message. Shocking.
But where EA's game scores is with its unrivalled speed. It's astonishingly fast, to the point where punches, throws and holds occur at the kind of eye-jittering pace that real-life wrestling reaches, helping Mayhem feel much more like a traditional beat-'em-up. With every move coming with its own gruesomely over-the-top crunching or slapping noise, and the camera moving in to get a good look at the most painful moves, Mayhem has much more in common with games like Fighters Destiny than its 'rasslin stablemates, and offers some superbly exciting fighting as a result.
The number of moves is disappointing compared to Attitude or Revenge, but Mayhem concentrates on quality rather than quantity, with only the most useful reversals, turnbuckle throws and spine- snapping submissions included. They're not always easy to pull off - especially if your opponent won't lie still and take what's coming to him - but they look all the more painful for their sheer speed. We had to look away from the screen every time Booker-T performed his patented 'I'm Going To Somersault Onto Your Stomach' manoeuvre.
As a one-player game, Mayhem is short-lived. Matches are over too quickly, the stamina/energy bars seem stacked in your favour, and repeating one move is guaranteed to topple any fighter - we won the first 'Hard' belt on our first go within 15 minutes. But it's a worthy multiplayer game, and although it's not as comprehensive, attractive or lasting as this month's Wrestlemania, its fast play makes it an enjoyable wrestler in its own right.
What will set WCW Mayhem apart from other wrestling titles this year? Maybe its muscle: Mayhem will feature over 50 wrestlers from the WCW, including all the heavyweights, such as Goldberg. Kevin Nash, Diamond Dallas Page, and Sting, to name a few. Kodiak Interactive (the developer) will try to re-create the adrenaline rush of real wrestling with such innovations as crashing into dressing rooms to continue fights or hearing a created wrestlers name announced by the commentary crew (which will include Mean Gene Okerlund, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, and Tony Schiavone).
Mayhem will feature all 12 pay-per-view locales, along with the popular Monday Nitro and Thunder "squared circles " There will also be ring entrances tailored to each wrestler, crowd reactions to the fight, and a momentum meter to determine match outcomes. WCW Mayhem means business this fall on the PlayStation and Nintendo 64.