WWE Crush Hour… Continues to suck… In all directions!
I regret telling my husband that I was excited to finally play 2003’s WWE Crush Hour while we were out for sushi. I knew I was going to hate it. It’s a combination of a terrible concept and a bad reputation. At least between those who actually remember it.
Vehicular combat games had a brief heyday in the wake of Twisted Metal’s popularity. It’s a fairly simple formula, but aside from Vigilante 8, few ever reached the same level of success. In fact, I’ve already covered Carmageddon 64 and Twisted Metal 3 in my kusoge articles, and one day may find myself facing Star Wars Demolition unless someone finally intervenes and gets me the help I so plainly need.
WWE Crush Hour is World Wrestling Entertainment’s take on the genre, and I’m very confused. What could wrestling possibly bring to the vehicular combat genre? Are the cars equipped with elbows that you can drop on the opponent from the top rope? Are steel chairs and baby oil weapons? Do you have to drive atop your opponent and pin their vehicle to the ground for three seconds? No! Because that would take actually thought and there’s very little of that present in WWE Crush Hour.
The backstory of WWE Crush Hour is that the WWE has ridden the wave caused by their purchase of the WCW and have now bought all TV. Controlling all broadcast opens up a lot of sinister opportunities, but they use it to instead just place all their wrestling “superstars” into every form of entertainment. From cooking shows to game shows. Their big new feature is the titular Crush Hour, where their wrestlers get behind the wheel of tricked-out station wagons and try to blow each other up.
So, it’s Twisted Metal, but with WWE personalities from the early aughts; over 30, apparently. I recognize most of them, but it’s hard to get excited when you’re mostly looking at a car and they each have maybe 5 lines that they throw out over and over again.
It’s hard to figure out where is best to make the first incision on WWE Crush Hour. I suppose I should state the obvious and say that this is a clone of Twisted Metal, but they removed all the smart design and made a bunch of mistakes that Twisted Metal avoided. I just find it humorous when a game copies off someone else’s paper and still manages to fail. It shows a special level of just not caring.
I’ll point out that WWE Crush Hour was released as a budget title. It was developed by Pacific Coast Power & Light, which also developed Road Rash 64. But whereas that game was bad by almost every metric and still manages to succeed, WWE Crush Hour is all failure.
Twisted Metal had a lot of clever points in its design that helped it succeed. One of the smartest decisions it made was making the goal to be the last one standing. It didn’t matter how someone died, they just had to die. WWE Crush Hour tries to add some variety to this but manages to trip into a pitfall that Twisted Metal covers up. The main gameplay mode has you race to be the first to gain a certain number of kills. This is fine on paper, but in practice, it means that kills can easily be stolen. It’s not who dealt the most damage to a target, but who delivers the last hit. This can lead to situations where you’re focused on one opponent, only to have another player snatch your kill away. And it’s infuriating.
I’ve had moments where I was part of a pile-up, on the verge of claiming multiple kills, when the fourth opponent shows up out of nowhere and knocks out everyone, securing three kills in a second.
There’s another mode where you have to collect stars that spawn in specific locations on the map, but which one they pop up in is random. Do you know how in original recipe Mario Party, there’d be moments where someone buys a star and the next one appears a few spaces in front of them, allowing them to scoop up another one in a game where a two-point lead can be insurmountable? It’s that sort of luck-based system that makes you want to throw your controller at your sibling. That’s what this mode has. The star could just appear right next to your opponent, letting them scoop it up without resistance. Just screw yourself from orbit.
The audio is probably the worst part of WWE Crush Hour. They made the horrible decision to add match commentary, but as annoying as it is to hear “No one gets back up from a Frankensteiner,” in a normal wrestling game, here we have to listen to Jim Ross’s dialogue get cut up and poorly stitched back together to describe the most useless happenings on screen. “The Brahma Bull… Picks up… The twisty rockets!” it rattles. “Chris Jericho… Continues to fire… In all directions!” which is particularly perturbing, since you can have your bumper rammed into someone’s passenger door, at which point you can not physically miss, and he’ll still say that. What game are you watching?
The super-stars need to have their say. I honestly don’t know if what they say are catchphrases or something, because I’m not all that familiar with that era of wrestling. However, I can’t imagine a situation where “I don’t suck. YOU suck,” was ever clever, especially after being quoted multiple times in a single match.
WWE Crush Hour’s biggest problem is that it’s just boring. The fact that Twisted Metal Black came out almost two years previous to this makes its deficiencies even more embarrassing. It’s just funny that a game whose central concept is adding WWE personality to vehicular combat has such little personality.
I dragged myself through its career mode, with its lame weapons and repetitive commentary. You advance through various PPV events, which made me think that this was all going to climax at Wrestlemania (Crushlemania?), but it didn’t. It’s like it didn’t even get that far. There’s a boss battle that is embarrassingly easy because the enemy AI is just so idiotic, and then it’s just over. I wasn’t expecting Dark Tooth, but I figured it would be more than just another car.
So, what I regret most about playing WWE Crush Hour is just that it was so dull that I was essentially in a daze until it finally ended far too late to spare my sanity. It doesn’t even feel like a budget title, it feels like shovelware. There’s this sucking vacuum where a spark of creativity should be. It’s a taco without the spice; just greasy meat in a salty shell. And that’s the bottom line. Or something. I don’t know what the Rock is cooking.