WCW wrestling has become popular enough to spawn a second Thunder. Now that show has become popular enough to spawn its own video game. WCW/nWo Thunder is THQ's follow-up to its wildly successful WCW Nitro for the PlayStation and offers a host of updates. As far as the roster goes, Thunder has more than 60 wrestlers, all real this time.
They are updated with regard to their current allegiances. But since WCW/nWo wrestlers aren't the type to settle down, the game will allow you to change a character's alliance anytime you want. Did Giant join nWo Red on last week's Monday Night Nitro, only a week after you bought the game? No problem. Just change his team symbol on the select screen and save. Now you can play as the new Giant, complete with costume change.
Inland Productions did more than just update the roster. They took feedback from Nitro fans and improved other areas as well. Thunder now has weapons (excuse us, offensive-oriented ringside furniture) and Steel Cage matches. Each character is also more defined, reflecting the "real-life" strengths and weaknesses of the actual wrestlers. You can see this on the select screen--the wrestlers now have individualized Might icons that are colored differently for separate areas of the body.
Bright green arms, for example, indicate a strong attacker, while bright green legs mean you have one of those quick and nimble types. So in the game, you'll see Buff Bagwell's Might icon has green arms and Ultimo Dragon has green legs. Goldberg, to no one's surprise, is green from head to toe.
This is THQ's last PlayStation WCW game (with WCW Nitro being its last N64 WCW title) before the company switches to the WWF license. Electronic Arts will be taking over the WCW license in 1999.
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Based on the WCW Nitro engine, WCW/NWO Thunder is striving to fix the control problems that plagued the original game, while adding a ringful of new options, wrestlers, and moves to give PlayStation fans the ultimate WCW experience. Thunder features 64 wrestlers (32 selectable, 32 hidden) from Goldberg to Raven, along with Single, Tag Team, Battle Royal, and Steel Cage matches. The game also includes weapons around ringside (stop signs, water bottles, etc.) and a new Might Editor that enables you to strengthen different parts of your grappler's body. Thunder is even hoping to provide two-man commentary from Tony Schio-vanne and Mike Tenay to help match the unbelievable sounds booming from its toughest competitor, WWF War Zone.
For the hardcore WCW freak, Thunder is a must-buy. Why? It's the most feature-packed WCW game on the market (well, the only competition it has is Nitro and the N64's Revenge...). Fans will dig the huge roster of wrestlers, from the trendy Raven's Flock to the idiots at nWo White. And as big as the roster already is, the game has tons of secret characters to open up (final count: over 60 wrestlers). WCW fans will also enjoy the FMV taunts, personalized Might Meters (so each character has his own advantages and disadvantages) and the ability to change one's group affiliation (so you can always have your roster current with what goes on in the weekly TV shows). But if you're not that big into WCW itself, where the above features mean little to you, you probably won't find this game as fun to play as WWF War Zone. The controls take getting used to, and many times, moves you try to execute just won't come out. Add to that a loose priority system (where a weak wrestler can sometimes pull off fancier moves than you can), and you have a game that has more features than solid gameplay. At least the game has a ton of moves , ensuring a lot of replay value as you take the time to learn the various maneuvers. Thunder is decent, but it is definitely better suited for WCW fanatics.
I'm not thrilled about the graphics in this game. They're chunky, a bit washed out and not nearly as good as War Zone's. Also, the proportions don't look right. The wrestlers appear too big for the smallish ring. Another gripe, the guys move too fast. It doesn't look realistic when they're shootin' around the ring so quick. Fact is, I could live with the flaws if the gameplay was good. Sadly, it's just average. I'll stick with War Zone.
If you're a hardcore fan of wrestling, WCW/nWo Thunder is the game for you. I haven't seen a wrestling game yet which captures so accurately the...urn, unique culture (or sub-culture?) of wrestling like Thunder does. Of course, that doesn't mean I like wrestling. In fact, I think it's incredibly silly--but this game does a smashing job at what it is, with loads of moves, plenty of wrestlers to choose from and a solid feel.
Wrestling games should be fun, especially for multiplayer mayhem, but Thunder just isn't my cup of tea. The game engine isn't tight enough for my liking: Some moves seem easy to pull off while others don't seem to work at all. And even though this game is the fastest wrestling game on the market, the sluggish controls make it feel like the slowest. I would recommend War Zone over Thunder any day. It simply plays much better.
Wrestling is big business and if you could do something that entertained as many fans as the WCW/NWO has, you'd be rich too. This game brings all the glory of the big show to your PSX. Unfortunately, just like it's licensed source, this game doesn't quite have the depth to be enjoyed by everyone. This is a good old fashioned 'hit-the-buttons-fast' game, if you're looking for a 250-hit combo, you won't find it here.
Choose a wrestler (see below) and choose your path. There are short paths and longer paths, but each involves fighting numerous opponents on route to winning something. You can start with exhibition matches, then move to the five match TV title, next is the seven match US Heavyweight title, then finally the ten match World Heavyweight title. There are also a variety of other options including one or two player tag team, battle royal, and cage matches. Or for more unpredictability, play two player versus and compete against your friends. This game is like most sports games, which are only really good against other humans. If you destroy all of the normal difficulty matches, try cranking it up to the difficult setting.
The basic idea is simple -- bring your opponent down into the red zone and then pin him for three seconds. The red zone is the low end of the health bar. If you really score some good moves quickly this may not take very long, and almost without fail it is better to accomplish this quickly than to give your opponent the chance to recruit help or get lucky! If you move outside the ring, watch the timer because you only have 20 seconds or you will be ruled out and get a match loss. Also if the match timer runs out, whoever has the most health left wins.
Wrestlers to choose from include the following on the basic menu: Hollywood Hogan, Bret Hart, Sting, Lex Luger, Giant, Diamond Dallas Page, Raven, Saturn, Goldberg, Kevin Nash, Scott Hall, Curt Henning, Macho Man Randy Savage, Rick Steiner, Scott Steiner, Jericho, Brian Adams, British Bulldog, Booker T, Dean Malenko, Wrath, Ultimo Dragon, Billy Kidman, Disciple, Chris Benoit, Scott Norton, Konnan, Anvil, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Buff Bagwell, Kanyon, and Alex Wright. Other wrestlers can also be obtained by beating the game with some of the basic wrestlers. These are the hidden surprises of the game.
When standing facing your opponent you have a wide array of moves to choose from. The basic attacks include punch, kick, chop, pin attempt, block, dodge, taunt, and tag your partner (Tag team only). If you put your opponent in a grapple you have a few additional options at hitting for big damage including Powerbomb, Piledriver, and Vertical Suplex. When you've got your opponent lying on the mat, you have six moves to choose from including pin attempt, elbow drop, knee drop, stomp, leg drop, as well as lifting or dragging your opponent.
Each wrestler has three moves that are unique to them and you'll need the game manual to look them all up. For example, Hollywood Hogan can do Knee Bashes, Big Boots, and the Hogan Legdrop. Some of the wrestlers like the Steiners have four moves at their unique disposal. Some of the moves can only be accomplished under certain circumstances like a red flashing health bar or when the opponent is lying on the mat, or even after the opponent bounces off the ropes.
One of the moves, the feat of strength, has each wrestler interlock fingers and try to overpower their opponent. You exhibit strength by pressing the buttons as fast as you can. Against computer opponents, this move is extremely helpful and is probably too good. I had matches that I clearly should have lost but ended up dominating because I got the move off and gained all of my strength back plus destroyed my opponent through this move alone. If you do this straight off you can win matches inside of 30 seconds. Fun if you just want to win and don't like good competition but renders the game boring in single player modes.
If a weapon is available in your match, you can pick it up and smack your opponent with it or throw it at them. If your opponent has a weapon and you hit them with a good move, they'll drop it.
The game allows you to save your accomplishments. So if you've uncovered any of the special wrestlers, you'll want to save your progress before powering down.
The wrestlers images are scanned in. They are clear enough but not true to size. You'll notice that 5' 11" wrestlers stand eye-to-eye with 6'6" wrestlers. Each wrestler has a little scanned video barking about why you should pick them to take into battle.
This is a throwback to when fighting games first started appearing. It doesn't bear much resemblance to the extended combinations of the Mortal Kombat inspired games. It's a race to see who hits the buttons first and who remembers which moves are best for different situations. The battle of strength ruins the one player game as you can recover your strength at will. You can also milk that move to easy victory against the toughest opponents and even if a wrestler hops in to help your opponent. Not worth more than a weekend rental. It's not like you don't have other wrestling or fighting games to choose from.