TNA Impact: The Game or the Lame? A review you can use [tm]!

TNA, for those of you not in “the know”, is what is often posited as the alternative to WWE. It’s a faster paced brand of wrestling and has a six sided ring. There are some former WWE guys in there too, like Kurt Angle, Booker T, and Christian [Cage]. It actually has a tag division, unlike the WWE. That said, on with the review!

Graphics: B+. There are some clipping issues, but they’re very few and far between. The wrestlers look fantastic and most of the moves look crisp and fluid. The arena and ring are very well created, although the crowd animation is fairly choppy like most such games.

Sound: B-. The voice acting is really, really bad. Kevin Nash doesn’t even sound like himself; it sounds like somebody doing a bad Kevin Nash impersonation. All the characters are about 25% more over the top than they are on the show; the saving grace is Suicide, the main character in story mode. Don West and Mike Tenay have no specific wrestler dialogue, rarely mention finishers (VERY rarely) and basically only care about a small portion of moves. However, this is actually a positive; they’re a lot less annoying than they are in the show and can safely be ignored.

Controls: C. Midway took it upon themselves to create a new control system, which is very easy to use after a match or two. However, there are serious issues in tag team matches; by making the button to climb the turnbuckle the same as the button to tag out, you often find yourself doing the former instead of the latter, often to your detriment. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gone to pick up a chair and instead pinned somebody outside the ring. You can’t adjust the controls, otherwise I’d fix this and not dock them so much.

Gameplay: C. The game is really smooth; loading times are kind of annoying, but not as prevalent as in other games. The movesets are sort of basic until you start unlocking moves and wreslers, but even then they aren’t nearly as complex as Smackdown! vs RAW. Story mode works really well, having you face a succession of jobbers until you get to the “real” TNA superstars. I love the submission system.\ as rhythm and timing based, not button mashing based.

There are some serious issues, though. First off, the stun meter is flawed and should be patched. The computer stays stunned briefly while the user does not; it gives you a hard time vs. CPU. The story mode superstars are all much better at reversals than you, which makes it extremely difficult to beat them, causing story mode to leap forward in spurts. The tag mechanics as listed above make it even harder, not to mention how lame your partner is. The tag team AI is particularly stupid and does not intervene when it should; they will also focus on one opponent to the exclusion of anything else. They will let you get beaten to a bloody pulp rather than assist you or break from their attack. The kick out mini game is nearly impossible to win if you’re slightly damaged; again, the CPU gets a notable assist here. This and the stun meter could be fixed easily in an upcoming patch, as it’s just altering some variables, so I’m not docking them as heavily as I could have.

Replayability: B+. The wrestlers are different enough that you get different experiences with each one; there’s lots of stuff to unlock, too. I wish they had more match types, but that’s a minor complaint. Wrestling games are always easy to pick up and don’t take overly long, so you can take breaks if necessary.

Overall: C+. I could be talked into a B, because this is the first real competitor to a WWE video game in some time, but there are too many easily fixed flaws and the game is just too small. Only five CAW slots is heinous and the process takes way too long for such a small amount of options. 25 wrestlers is impressive when you see how big TNA’s actual roster is, but it’s nothing to write home about. It’s worth purchasing, but only if you rent it or try it first and figure out if you actually like it.