Wrestling's come a long way since Kent Walton and his travelling band of theatrical fat-boys - better known as British wrestlers of the 1980s - were booted off Saturday afternoon television way back in 1988. Who can forget the likes of the late Big Daddy, aka Shirley Crabtree (that's a bloody girl's name) - a pasty 350-pound fat boy who looked like a giant baby? Or Giant Haystacks, a 475-pound fatter boy who defied doctors' prognoses and managed to walk without the aid of an industrial sized crane? Not to mention everyone's favourite hooded lard-arse, Kendo Nakasaki (Special Gimmick - he wore a mask). They were athletes honed to physical imperfection, who lumbered around the ring on creaking knees pummelling their two-and-a-half stone opponents into feigned submission. Usually by jumping on them. Or falling over from exhaustion on them. Basically, they were rubbish.
Today, the razzmatazz of the WWF - now renamed to the WWE due to the mewling of a bunch of tree hugging animal lovers - is a world away from the granny-baiting days of English pro-wrestling's murky past, and come November, you'll be able to experience these grappling thrills first hand on your PC with WWE RAW.
After years of casting jealous glances at console owners, WWE RAW will finally give us PC owners the chance to take control of our fave WWE superstars, or depending on your views on pro-wrestling, a bunch of oiled-up nancy boys who prance around grabbing their opponents between the legs and burying their faces in each other's crotches. Your choice will be far from limited, with 35 wrestlers at your disposal, each with superbly recreated ring-entrances, and mannerisms copied in the minutest detail. Which means you'll see William Regal mincing down the ramp and Triple-H spitting water around the arena, leaving greasy puddles just waiting for some burger-munching redneck opportunist to purposefully slip over on, graze their ear and sue the company for several million dollars.
THQ claims that the intuitive consolelike control system will make RAW incredibly easy to pick up for even the most average of Joes, while gamepadadept above average Floes should be pulling off stunning combination moves within a matter of minutes. But as ever, the proof is in the playing.
Above And Beyond
Getting hold of some code, however, was far from easy, and involved a near-fatal tag-team match involving two of THQ's finest, Ian Vincible (aka Terence the janitor) and The Stoat (a work experience kid called Oscar). Lining up against them were the awesome powers Dave The Oak' Woods, who claims to weigh a staggering 103 pounds (personally I think he's trying to squeeze a couple of pounds in on us) and Chris Skeletor' Anderson (18 pounds, 12 ounces). Fortunately they won and walked away with the code, although it was looking pretty ropey there for a while when Dave nearly tapped out when Oscar administered an agonising Chinese Burn on him.
Had the boys played this first though, they probably would have done a lot better, as each of the 35 WWE superstars featured have a full repertoire of locks, throws and superb counter-attacks, which make the action far more strategic than your average joypad-pummelling beat 'em up. Better still, every single character's Finishing Move' is also here, ranging from Kane's throat-tearing Choke-Slam to Triple-H's while you're down there, love' Pedigree. The attention to detail is excellent. Grapplers roll round on the canvas in agony and pose to the crowd when they're winning. There's also some great TV-style presentation and a variety of camera angles and replays.
Just Bring It
We weren't disappointed with the number of match options either, with anything from singles matches to Royal Rumble tournaments available. The action was frenetic as new-boy Jamie and I controlled our custom-made wrestlers (created with the wrestler editor) with joypads, during a tag-match against Dave and Anthony, who pummelled their joysticks with the intensity of two twelveyear-old boys who've been locked in separate bathrooms with a copy of Razzle and jar of Vaseline. The battle soon spilled out of the ring and hostilities quickly started again on the ramp and even in several of the ten backstage locations, aided by a variety of weaponry littered conveniently around the concrete floors.
However, there were a few problems. First off, the wrestler selection proved incredibly dated, including the likes of shock-haired Tongan Haku (long-since banished into the obscurity of Indie wrestling), while lacking the likes of Brock Lesnar. And while the action was brutal, it tended to suffer from the type of motion blur brought about by class-A narcotic-induced hallucinations. Either that, or the kilo of crack I had last week still hasn't worn off. It's definitely one of those two.
Despite the problems though, WWE is looking as though it could well make a successful grappling debut on the PC for THQ. Whether or not it'll be 'The Next Big Thing', or end up as a pathetic skinny jobber who makes a living out of being ritually humiliated in front of millions of people by having its head pulled off by more prominent stars on a daily A basis is yet to be seen. Find out next month in our review. Till then, check out the demo on the disk and get grappling, as that's all you're getting from us for now.
Download WWE Raw
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP