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Wrestling games

WWE rages on photo
WWE rages on

WWE 2K14 in development at Visual Concepts and Yuke's


Take-Two signs five-year licensing agreement
Feb 20
// Jordan Devore
Following the collapse of THQ, it was rumored that Take-Two Interactive had picked up the rights to the WWE game license, and that is indeed what happened. The five-year agreement will see its first title, WWE 2K14, later thi...

Review: Fire Pro Wrestling

Jan 11 // Ian Bonds
Fire Pro Wrestling (Xbox Live Arcade)Developer: SpikePublisher: Microsoft StudiosReleased: September 21, 2012MSRP: 800 Microsoft Points This version of Fire Pro Wrestling takes the name of the beloved franchise and slams it hard onto the mat, then pins it...and then tea bags it for an hour and a half. Virtually nothing from the original series makes its way to this title, and that's a real shame. Gone are the customizable wrestlers. Instead, you fight with your avatar. And while you can customize them to some degree with costumes, moves, and items you unlock through gameplay, they all seem fairly flat. Maybe it's because the gameplay itself is so flat, as your standard wrestling tropes give way to "hit your opponent, grapple your opponent, slam your opponent," then lather, rise, repeat until it's time to pin. And your opponent. Oh boy. No clever homages to wrestlers of a bygone era, or wink-and-nods to obscure hardcore heroes. Nope, these are generic avatars with no real skill necessary to defeat. Some may be a tad harder thanks to cheap tag team tactics (where their partner, no matter how you may detain them still manage to sneak up on you and stop your pin) but for the most part, the matches shouldn't take you long to play through. That is, if you can tolerate the control. Moving your wrestler avatar around the ring is a sluggish exercise in patience, and grappling with your opponent is tiresome as hit detection is spotty. Easy matches would be one thing, but the control seems to suck all of the fun out of what is an already boring game. There's not even that much variety in the move sets. No submission moves, no moves on the ropes (save for a few turnbuckle leaps), and no tag-specific finishers. You can't even do very much outside of the ring, except what you do in the ring, which is hit, grapple, repeat. The moves included are few and far between, and you sadly have to play through this mess of a title in order to unlock anything worth using. Special moves, once acquired, feature an unskippable animation, but are at least a decent diversion from the repetition of the standard smack-around you'll be doing. But what if someone else bought Fire Pro Wrestling, and you wanted to suffer through it together? Online play is a laggy mess, and the online modes offer the same features as offline; namely slow, boring gameplay. One thing the online mode does differently than offline, however, is remove your health, stamina, and energy bars from the screen. That's a big help for executing moves where your timing is already in question. Fire Pro Wrestling on Xbox Live Arcade is the most basic of wrestling games. Flat, featureless, and simplistic, it is devoid of any redeeming qualities found elsewhere such as replay value or fun. What could have been a cool, cartoon-y version of a classic franchise is but a wasted shell of its former self.
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Let's get ready to ... turn off this game
The original Fire Pro Wrestling was a game specifically for the hardcore fans of pro wrestling. I'm not talking about the male soap-opera that is WWE, but a more brutal version such as some of the Japanese wrestling circuits ...

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Pro Wrestling X: Uprising makes a surprise release


10 years of development and more to come
Dec 21
// Audun Sorlie
Pro Wrestling X has been a distant dream for Dave Wishnowski, the independent game developer who wanted more out of his wrestling videogame experience than what the big-budget titles were offering. Inspired by games like AKI'...

Review: WWE '13

Nov 03 // Chris Carter
WWE '13 (PlayStation 3, Wii, Xbox 360 [reviewed])Developer: Yuke'sPublisher: THQRelease: October 30, 2012MSRP: $59.99 Truth be told, I stopped watching wrestling full time in 2005 (which for me was roughly two days a week), but I never stopped being a casual fan. Throughout the years, I would watch the occasional Pay-Per-View, or catch the latest game iteration. So when I heard WWE '13 would focus heavily on the Attitude Era, I jumped on the opportunity to check it out. If you watched wrestling in the '90s, Attitude Era Mode is a blast -- it's the main draw in WWE '13 in terms of solo campaign play. You'll relive notable moments of the careers of Stone Cold, DX, Mankind, and many more fan favorites. Throughout the chapters Rise of DX, Austin 3:16, the Brothers of Destruction, The Great One, Mankind, and WrestleMania XV, you'll reenact some of the greatest moments in wrestling history. I do mean reenact, as you'll be required to administer certain events that actually happened. But this time instead of WWE '12's format of requiring you to tediously do everything necessary, most of the objectives are bonuses, and you need only complete the primary goal to continue on. Playing through the Attitude Era will also unlock new characters and extras, so you old-school gamers should be happy with all of the potential goals. The mode isn't just thrown in half-cocked, either -- you'll get tons of factoids on loading screens, a neat intro video into the Attitude Era itself, and some pretty awesome "WCW Nitro vs. RAW" ratings that show big moments in WCW history as well as rival television ratings. It's all a great trip down memory lane. While some people may think that it's pandering, Yuke's did such a good job that it would be hard to truly brand it as such. Actual wrasslin' gameplay is very similar to WWE '12, so if you played the last iteration, you should feel right at home. You can still strike, grapple, Irish whip, and dash as normal. Some enhancements have thankfully been made, most notably the counter system. In previous years, getting the lighting-fast counter timing down was something many people never mastered. Now in WWE '13, there's a clear indicator of when to press the counter button -- and even a tiny prompt which states "too soon" or "too late" to actually teach you how to improve. It sounds small, but counters are such a big part of wrestling games, and it's nice to know that Yuke's not only scorns a button-mashing system, but encourages technical play. You'll also notice that wrestlers have more stamina now, which should preclude super-quick matches like in '12. On the flip side, it is a bit jarring to have to do two, sometimes three specials just to get someone past the "one" count. If you're itching for quicker fights though, you can switch it to a quick mode (as well as a lengthier "epic" stamina setting) before a match. There are a number of glitches that rear their ugly heads in spite of these advancements, unfortunately -- for the vast majority of my matches, I encountered at least one of them per session. They're not gigantic or game-breaking, but things like missing grapples or glitch-teleport rolling can be troublesome and really annoying. While good ol' JR and Jerry "The King" Lawler call the matches in the Attitude Era, you'll unfortunately have to sub out JR for Michael Cole in everything else. I was never a fan of Cole, and his voicework tends to feel the most phoned in and robotic in this particular case. Speaking of sound quality, the crowd is also particularly bad. The camera is another problem (you should turn it off). It should, in theory, add drama to matches, but it ends up obscuring your view and going haywire more often than not. If you're not one for nostalgia, you'll have to stick to the game's other modes. Thankfully, WWE '13 delivers with pretty much every type of match you've ever seen on TV -- then and now. "I Quit" matches, TLCs, Inferno matches, Tornado Tag, six-way Diva matches -- it's all here and ready to be played. Creation modes are just as good as ever, and you can spend hours fine tuning a dream wrestler -- whether it's combing through his appearance, moves, intro, or more. There's even Create-An-Arena and Create-A-Belt modes! Your wildest dreams of creating your college professors and pitting them against each other can still be realized. Online play is available, but it's gated behind an online pass with a seven-day free trial. While it's mostly your typical multiplayer affair, the developers have added the ability to put bots into lobbies (YES!), so you don't have to wait hours to find three other players (and have them constantly drop after being impatient) for a tornado tag match, for example. You also don't get XP for "bot/comp stomping" either, so you can't just game the system. Finally, there's plenty of DLC on the way, should you be into that sort of thing. Outside of the addition of Attitude Mode, '13 is very similar to '12, but that isn't a bad thing. Although THQ has a number of issues to fix either by way of a patch or in next year's iteration, people looking for a solid wrestling game shouldn't be disappointed.WWE '13, Carter 3:16 means I just reviewed your ass!
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A good ol' fashioned slobber knocker
Ah, annual sports iterations. Many of us await them with open arms year after year, and the rest yawn in disapproval. After the massive overhaul with the Predator Technology engine in WWE '12, fans were asking, "What's next?"...

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WWE '13's DLC schedule revealed


Oct 04
// Chris Carter
Pictured: my favorite wrestler of all time, who also happens to be coming to WWE '13. Lucky me!THQ has just announced their DLC plans for WWE '13, and for better or worse, it's quite a bit of content. Their DLC plan...
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Collector's Edition of WWE '13 sure to be stone cold


Jul 16
// Brett Zeidler
Ah, a new year, a new WWE legend being featured on the cover of the next installment of THQ's wrestling games. All is well in the universe. Now, I don't claim to know anything at all about wrestling, but I'm assuming this ye...
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WWE '13 coming October 30 for Xbox 360, PS3, and Wii


May 30
// Hamza CTZ Aziz
THQ has announced WWE '13, and with that came some backstory about how CM Punk has changed wrestling like how Stone Cold Steve Austin changed things 15 years ago. There's more to it then that, but, yeah. Wrestling! So what's...
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This is what I wanted Skyrim to be like


Jan 07
// Jonathan Holmes
Some people like Skyrim. Some people don't. From what I can tell, the difference between the two groups lies in their interest (or lack there of) in wandering around in a virtual landscape that earnestly attempts t...
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Diva DLC announced for WWE '12


Oct 28
// Brett Zeidler
WWE '12 is still not on store shelves, but that hasn't stopped THQ from prepping for a future DLC release. The Diva pack will be the first DLC to hit, which is planned to be released in December. Here's all the Diva's include...
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Ay dios mio! Sin Cara's on the Latin cover of WWE 12


Oct 07
// Liam Fisher
I don't recall ever seeing a game getting a Latin American Edition, but it's fitting that a wrestling game would blaze that trail. Masked luchador Sin Cara will be replacing Randy Orton as the cover athlete for WWE 12 in...
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Customize Everything in WWE'12


Sep 21
// Kyle MacGregor
Check it out. The latest video for THQ's upcoming wrestling title showcases an amazing amount of customization. It looks like you'll be able to tweak just about everything to your liking in WWE'12. And I mean everything. Fro...
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Break everything you own with Hulk Hogan on Kinect


Sep 15
// Smurgesborg
Panic Button Games will soon unleash Hulkamania via Hulk Hogan's Main Event, and those of you whom reserve at GameStop will be given a pre-order t-shirt.  The game will be exclusive to the Kinect, which of course means i...
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Suck down some Sake Express Pro Wrestling if you dare


Sep 04
// Jonathan Holmes
It's rare that I get news tips sent directly to my personal email, but after playing Sake Express Pro Wrestling, I think that I understand why someone would send this game just to me. If I were a videogame developer, I'd pro...
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WWE 12 shows off its new Predator Technology


Aug 17
// Marc Paris
THQ breaks down their new Predator Technology in the latest trailer for WWE 12. I got to sit down with the guys over at THQ and when they started talking about "Predator Technology," my first thought was cloaked wrestling. W...

Preview: WWE 12

Aug 17 // Marc Paris
[embed]208860:40295[/embed] WWE 12 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, Wii)Developer: Yuke's Publisher: THQTo be released: November 22, 2011 (US) / November 25, 2011  The biggest addition to WWE 12 is the new "Predator Technology" system. This new engine allows for better rendering, animation, more dramatic camera angles, improved ring/rope physics and the ability to interrupt moves. Thus this all makes the game look and feel a lot more like the matches you see on T.V. Now when you land a high angle back drop, the impact of the slam ripples though the mat and makes the ropes shake. The camera will also get in closer to the action at certain times and really let the player get a good angle of all the pain that's taking place in the squared circle. It all comes together to form a much more realistic looking wrestling game, but the improvements don't end on just the improved looks. Gameplay wise, there's a lot going on under the surface that the average gamer might not notice at first. Instead of creating a completely different control scheme or a more complex gameplay mechanic, developer Yuke's has simplified things while adding some nice tweaks and A.I. to strengthen the core gameplay. The first thing I noticed was that the beginning of a match is much faster. Fresh opponents get up quickly after being slammed down on to the mat in the beginning too. This allows the action to start off quickly, allowing the player to get moves off fast and build some momentum. As the match progresses and the wrestlers start taking more damage, they start to slow down. This sets up a more realistic pace and makes the matches more believable and lifelike.  THQ has also tweaked how you and your opponent gain momentum. Older versions had players lose momentum when taking a beating, leading them to take more punishment. Now, much like Street Fighter IV's Ultra Combos, when you take enough of a thrashing your wrestler can preform a "Comeback." This is a series of Quick Time Events that if performed correctly, will dish out a lot of damage and even up the playing field. One of my favorite aspects was the improved reversal system. If timed correctly you can reverse strikes, grapples and moves. While it takes time to get used to, once you start pulling off reversals you can see that there's a lot of depth to the gameplay then most would think for a wrestling game. The comprehensiveness of the reversal system makes it so you always feel in control of what's going on in the ring, even if when you're not on the offensive. Another cool new feature is the limb targeting system. While grappling, you can target either the head,  left or right arm and the legs. By wearing down the limbs it'll make it easier to make opponents tapout. Pulling off submissions in WWE 12 is pretty simple, the classic button smashing formula is applied. Personally, button smashing is normally not my cup of tea as a gameplay mechanic, but for some reason it feels alright in this setting. Honestly, it had been a while since I've played a Smackdown vs Raw game, but it didn't take long to get use to the controls. Logical placement of the button configuration made the learning curve fairly short. It wasn't long before I was fighting my opponent and not the controller. Not all that surprising, the game is packed with content. With a roster of 70 plus wrestlers, 80 plus match types, Campaign mode (said to clock in around 12 hours), Universe Mode (their take on franchise mode) and creation tools for wrestlers, moves, entrances and -- brand new to the series -- arenas, there's a lot to do in the game. The new arena creation is pretty cool too. You can customize everything from the mat and apron to the barricade outside the ring. I didn't noticed a way to create your own logos so it seems that you'll be limited to pre-set logos but with over 200 of them, you're more then likely to find what you're looking for. It'll also drastically reduce the number of times you'll see the World Penis Federation pop up. It's not hard to tell that THQ has been trying really hard to improve upon the formula that they have been trying to master since the PlayStation 2 days. In fact, I'd say this is shaping up to be one of the best wrestling games of this generation. It'll be interesting to see if they can tap into the more casual wrestling fan market since this version seems to have a good mix of simplicity yet deep gameplay. Also, as a personal side note, THQ got Vader in the game and that right there just about won me over.
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It's difficult for games with annual release dates to really improve drastically from year to year. More often then not, developers choose to focus more on improving or adding one or two features and hoping it's e...

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Here's the near-complete list of wrestlers for WWE 12


Aug 14
// Brett Zeidler
Following the somewhat recent announcement of The Rock being a pre-order bonus, THQ has released a hefty list on their site that almost details the complete roster of wrestlers. I haven't played a wrestling game in years, but...
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WWE 12 can smell what The Rock is cooking


Jul 29
// Victoria Medina
Before The Rock started going by his real name and doing movies like Toothfairy he was an awesome wrestler, and THQ is giving those who pre-orders WWE 12 a chance to add him to their team. Anyone living in the United States o...
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WWE: Brawl steps out of the ring and into the streets


Jul 10
// Victoria Medina
WWE games, such as their most recent WWE All-Stars, are the type of game that probably come to mind when you think of the wrestling franchise. The corporate brain behind this old entertainment past-time is trying something n...
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E3: Majesco details line-up, includes Hogan, Rayne


Jun 01
// Nick Chester
Majesco has a pretty interesting line-up for E3 this year, including three Mama titles, one Kinect wrestling game, and the return of a busty vampire-killing dhampir.  The full list of games can be found after the ju...

Review: WWE All-Stars

Mar 29 // Nick Chester
WWE All-Stars (Xbox 360 [reviewed], PlayStation 3, Wii, PSP)Developer: THQ San DiegoPublisher: THQReleased: March 29, 2011MSRP: $59.99 (Xbox 360, PlayStation 3) / $49.99 (Wii) / $39.99 (PSP) I’m about to say something that, depending on the era in which you grew up playing videogames and the kind of gamer you are, may have you foaming at the mouth: WWE All-Stars is a bit like a mash-up between NBA Jam and AKI’s incredible Nintendo 64 wrestling titles.  The NBA Jam bit certainly makes some sense -- Sal DiVita, along with many former Midway folks who now work for THQ San Diego, were instrumental in bringing NBA Jam to the market in the ’90s. We’re talking about a team of individuals who specialize in accessible, fast-paced, quarter-munching game experiences. (This also isn’t DiVita’s first time working with the WWE; he worked on 1995’s now-classic WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game.)  WWE All-Stars is all about action, from bell to bell. It doesn’t give you more than a few seconds to breathe, whether you’re opening up a can of whoop-ass or you’re on the business end of a Tombstone Piledriver. And it’s some of the craziest, most over-the-top action you’ve ever seen in a wrestling game. Superstars effortlessly toss one another across the ring like rag dolls, sometimes from one end to the other. I was quite literally giggling with delight as I performed Mr. Perfect’s WWE All-Star Perfect-Plex for the first time -- he spins backwards numerous times through the air before slamming the poor superstar on the receiving end into the mat. The on-screen action is preposterous -- we all know pro wrestling is “fake,” but it’s at least grounded in the laws of physics -- but that’s half the fun of WWE All-Stars.  From a gameplay standpoint, All-Stars is immediately more approachable than THQ’s SmackDown vs. Raw series, which has arguably become an overly convoluted mess. Here you’ve got light grapples on one button, and can perform a series of moves with the simple tap of any other. You can even move the analog stick to change your wrestler’s position and perform a whole new set of moves from that new lock-up situation. There’s also a strong grapple, which your wrestler will reach for at a reduced speed, but the payoff is a more destructive assortment of moves.  You’ll have melee attacks at your disposal, ranging from quick strikes to slower, more powerful heavy attacks. With fast-paced combat in mind, WWE All-Stars encourages chaining these attacks together with one another, as well as with the game’s grapples. The most basic might be something like two light punches followed quickly by the grapple button, which will make your wrestler launch right into a takedown. Again, it’s all about keeping the match moving, and knowing the right combinations of moves to string together is the key to success.  You can also juggle opponents with strikes. Yes, “juggle,” as in Tekken-style air juggles. Most wrestlers have a few moves in their arsenal that, if used in the right way, can pop your opponent into the air. Once off the ground, you can follow up with a series of well-timed strikes or even grab them out of the air for a devastating move that will send them crashing to the ground. Many characters can even string together these pop-up moves for a wild sequence of classic pro wrestling attacks.  Because no in-game combo list exists (something has to get you interested in that Prima strategy guide, right?), there’s a lot of experimentation involved here. Fortunately, many of the combo strings are easy to discover, and most players will naturally find them over the course of a few matches. And although many seasoned gamers might see it as a weakness, most of the combos translate from wrestler to wrestler. Perhaps adding more variations would have gone a long way in making All-Stars a deeper fighter with a more difficult-to-master roster. But on the flip side, the game’s accessibility is one of its biggest strengths, and I think THQ got this one just right.  WWE All-Stars also applies a similar blocking and reversal system to that found in AKI’s popular Nintendo 64 wrestling titles. Carefully timed shoulder-button taps will reverse holds, and it’s even possible to reverse the reversals if timed properly. For every move that can be reversed, a reasonably large icon appears near your wrestler’s HUD to let you know when in the animation the reversal can be performed. This kind of feedback goes a long way toward cutting down the habit of “reversal button mashing” that a lot of folks fall into while playing many wrestling games. While you might get lucky, knowing the timing for each animation will greatly help you both frustrate an opponent and subsequently win a match-up.  The ultimate goal is to wear down your opponent with all of these tools, while at the same time building up meters to pull off your signature moves and, when all is said and done, your finisher. Up to three signature moves can be banked at a time, and they’re usually hyper-stylized versions of attacks you’d normally associate with that particular superstar. The “finisher” meter takes a bit more time to build up, but is the ultimate show-stopper. While you can pin opponents for the win, if an opponent’s health meter is drained to the point where it’s blinking red, one finisher will result in a KO. We’re talking a lights-out, automatic victory.  Finishers and specials build up relatively quickly, too, particularly if you’re competently landing a wide variety of moves. There aren’t any matches that really last longer than a few minutes. Two skilled players could theoretically go back and forth in a game of cat and mouse, but whoever can land that finisher first usually has a good chance of hearing their name called after the bell.  These signature moves and finishers are the few attacks that can’t be reversed, which I found to be a bit frustrating. Yes, it takes timing to pull off most of the moves. And because most of the signatures and finishers start with slow grapple animations, it’s possible for an opponent to evade or interrupt them with an attack. But once you’re caught in the animations, there’s simply nothing you can do. It would have been nice if you could reverse a finisher to avoid a certain loss with a combination of careful timing and use of your banked finisher or signature move. One has to assume that the developers carefully looked at their options, and decided it was in the game’s best interest to leave that out. Still, while I like the quickness and arcade-style brevity of the matches, I think those kind of last-minute “oh, damn!” finisher/signature reversals might have gone a long way in adding an extra dash of drama to matches. Regardless, what’s here is absolutely a joy to play -- to an extent because it all comes together in such a ridiculously over-the-top manner, but mostly because it just feels so smooth. WWE All-Stars also offers up a few ways to unleash your aggression while no one else is around, including “Path of Champions” and “Fantasy Warfare.” There are three “Path of Champions” scenarios, each of which “tells a story” through entertaining in-game cut-scenes as you work your way through the ten matches of the mode. This is pretty basic stuff, and doesn’t change regardless of your character choice. The latter matches of each path can also get progressively frustrating on even the game’s default difficulty, as the game tends to stack the AI deck against you. One particularly memorable cage match had Hulk Hogan reversing nearly every grapple attack and strike I dished out. When it came time to escape the cage, inhuman Toshiyuki Takahashi-style button mashing was definitely going on behind-the-scenes. And outside of Achievements and Trophies attached to completing them with various characters, there’s not much replay value here. Still, it’s a good way to get your footing while learning gameplay beyond the basics. The same can be said for “Fantasy Warfare,” a series of “what if?” (and a few “remember when?”) matches between current WWE Superstars and past Legends. In this case, though, THQ was sneaky, tying these matches to significant game unlocks. You can choose whichever wrestler you want for each match; in some cases, choosing the right character and winning will unlock that character for other game modes. Each match-up also features an entertaining and well-produced intro video that wrestling fans are sure to eat up. Despite the incentive to play through them and the slick fan service, it’s a fairly straightforward way to present the game to folks playing alone. While that does sort of fit the game’s arcade vibe, a deeper career mode would have been a nice touch.  As a staple of THQ’s WWE games, a “Create-a-Superstar” mode is included in All-Stars. It’s nice to be able to craft your own fighter, although this is probably the most basic we’ve seen the mode in a WWE game in some time. There’s plenty you can do appearance-wise, but moves can only be assigned in sets based on characters already on the disc. You can choose your finishing move, but taking away the ability to customize the entire move set undercuts the experience a bit. Part of the problem comes from the fact that the on-disc roster is so incredible that there’s little chance anything you make will be able to stand toe-to-toe with these greats.  Those gripes aside, WWE All-Stars really shines when you’re battling it out against other players. The number of exhibition game modes isn’t mind-blowing (the most interesting being a one-on-one steel-cage match), but there’s enough to keep the party rolling. While I wasn’t able to try them out before the game’s official launch, online battles are also supported. From what I can tell, the options here are pretty basic. There’s no way, for example, to create a “round-robin” game room that might mimic arcade or couch play. A handful of friends could maybe join an Xbox Live party and then hop in and out of games, but spectating on and sizing up your competition is sometimes half the fun.  Folks who don’t play sports games (or even watch sports!) will drop everything to get in on a game of NBA Jam, thanks to its quick pace and easy-to-comprehend gameplay. In that respect, maybe WWE All-Stars is the NBA Jam of wrestling games that gamers never knew they wanted. Which, when you think about it like that, is pretty awesome.
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As someone who grew up in the ’80s, I have fond memories of these rubber WWF toys that I’d ricochet all over my house. Drop Hulk Hogan on his rubbery toes in just the right place and he’d spring forward, sma...


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