I have to admit, I've never had sex with my sister. Neither have I ever had sex with my mum, auntie or my next-door neighbour's pet dog. I don’t drive a pick-up truck. My name isn't Cletus. I don’t spend my days drinking Boilermakers with 'mah burdies' down at Smokin' Joe's, and shooting cans off tree-stumps with 'mah pa’s shotgurn’. I don’t go home each day to my mobile home and toothless wife (who's also my first cousin) and throw out my eight in-bred children (Mary-Ellen, Cletus Junior, Ern, Vern, Pee-Wee, Brad, Chad and Maybell) so that I can dryhump the gummy bint. I don't possess a mullet, let alone a curly blond one which hangs rigidly down my neck like a cluster of crusty pubes. None of the above describe me or my life. I am, however, a pro wrestling fan.
Stereotypes And Men In Tights
A bunch of incestuous rednecks. Either that, or kids. That's us wrestling fans. Apparently. With stereotypes like that, it's hardly surprising most people won’t admit to liking the violent soap opera that is the WWE. Does that include you? Does it? Come on, it’s only you and me here, no one will know if it does. It does? Excellent. HEY EVERYONE, WE'VE GOT A PRO-WRESTLING FAN OVER HERE, HA HA HA HA! Only joking.
So, WWE RAW then. Any good? Well surprisingly, yes, actually. Wanna make something of it? What initially appears to be little more than a random button pummelling no-brainer, soon reveals itself to be a pretty competent beat-’em-up. In fact, I'd go so far as to say that it’s the best beat-'em-up the PC has ever seen. And I should know. I’ve played some turds so big you’d get your whole forearm dirty trying to pick out all the peanuts.
Not that that is immediately apparent mind you. Oooooh nooooo. First you have to wade through a bog of console-styled menu screens which scream Shit Conversion’ louder than a baying rugby crowd at a clubfooted kicker. Assaulted by the mire of wacky beeps and whizzes which accompany each selection, you'll be cnnging in your Y-fronts at the apparent craaayyyyzeeeeness of it all. The match selections, single, tag, tornado tag, handicap, triple threat, fatal four-way, king of the ring and lesbo slap-up (all of the above just with females), however, are far from limited, as is the excellent wrestler editor which allows you to create your own monstrosity to fight for your cause in the squared circle.
The editor actually proved a massive hit in the office, so much so that closet wrestling guru Anthony 'Hollywood Hulk’ Holden spent half a day gleefully perfecting a grappler more hideous-looking than something you’d find manning a check-out at a 24-hour service station, its head like an over-inflated basketball sporting a moustache lifted straight from a Greek paedophile's jawline. You can see my creation (strangely idolised in the office to the point of cult status), in the Here’s One I Made Up Earlier panel. How we laughed.
However, facial hilarity aside, the editor is an excellent tool for creating a near-endless variety of wrestlers, meaning everyone can be catered for, whether you’re black, white, gay or straight. The sheer depth and attention to detail makes it a joy to try out your new creations, and you’ll soon find yourself dispensing with the dated list of 35 WWE superstars (well over a year out of date and missing many new stars) and opting for your configured creations instead.
Ultimate Fighting Engine
However, it's once the action kicks off that things really start to happen. Ring entrances are explosive, with each wrestler's strut to the ring recreated with spod-like attention to detail. Pyrotechnics pop, lights flash, music blares, people cheer and videos roll on the big arena screen, concocting a charged atmosphere of pure adrenaline-charged hype before the impending action. You can even rush your opponent as they enter the ring and pummel them with a variety of weapons, too. Which is nice.
The actual bouts are sheer en-tert-ain-ment. Victory requires you to not only beat seven shades of poo-poo out your opponent, but to win the crowd over and make sure you don’t spend all your energy in the process. The beauty of this three-pronged victory meter means you really have to put some thought into what you're doing. Repeat the same move over and over and the crowd will get bored of you. Fail to pace yourself, and you'll be beaten in minutes. The excellent fight engine, lifted from the award winning Dreamcast title Ultimate Fighting Championship, works like a wet dream you simply can’t wake from (OK, that might be taking it a bit far, but you get the idea). That’s if your machine is up to it, otherwise you’ll be watching in horror as the combatants jerk like epileptic whores across your screen.
Each wrestler has all their trademark moves accurately replicated, while fighting styles and tactics depend on their size and speed. They’re each blessed with a finishing move, which, when pulled off (by no means easy), is supremely satisfying. Don't get too buried in the role though, as you’ll do yourself a mischief climbing on the Chesterfield in mock celebration of your achievements. Remember, we’re gamers, not athletes.
Mastering RAW takes a long time. Every move can be countered, but timing and knowledge of key combinations is essential if you want any chance of pulling this off. Leam the moves and you’ll soon be embroiled in 20-minute epics, as matches see-saw back and forth, with countless near-falls raising pulses to critical levels, and wrestlers staggering from exhaustion as they try to raise themselves for one last push towards victory.
Of course, there are plenty of ’buts’ as well. GeForce 4 cards can cause ridiculous motion blur which spoil the action somewhat, while the clipping leaves a great deal to be desired. Al has the occasional suspect moment and wrestler collision detection is tenuous during some of the more acrobatic moments. But we’re talking fun here, and if you have the machine to do it justice, and the patience to leam the fight engine's subtleties, then that’s exactly what you’ll be getting, and all for a measly $19.99 to boot. In fact, it’s thanks to the low price that WWE RAW has scored as well as it has.
It may not be the next big thing in PC gaming, and it may be firmly entrenched in its console roots (RAW has already shipped on the Xbox), but it’s supremely entertaining, especially when played with friends - the deceptively deep combat engine appearing to suit the PC even more than its console counterpart. Best of all, though, you won’t have to change your name to Cletus to enjoy it, which I know will come as a huge relief to you all.
Download WWE Raw
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
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.