Wrestlemania 21

April 26, 2006 · Print This Article

Wrestlemania 21WWE has an interesting story on the current batch of consoles. For the Gamecube and Playstation 2, games like WWE Day of Reckoning and WWE Smackdown!, respectively, are downright amazing wrestling titles that offer a flurry of features, solid graphics, and a tuned gameplay element. Meanwhile, THQ, the same company that published the aforementioned titles, has had an extremely rough time putting out a quality title for the good old Xbox. Needless to say, both WWE Raw and WWE Raw 2 were both below average titles that could have used a lot of improvement. THQ, looking for a fresh start, decided to go with WWE Wrestlemania 21 as the name for their new game in hopes of starting anew. Can they start a good franchise this time around?

To be blunt and answer that question quickly for you unlucky WWE fans, no. No, no, and no again. Simply put, WWE Wrestlemania has fixed none of the problems of the two Raw games and, in fact, has even compounded on them, making them much more glaring and therefore much worse. It is truly disappointing to see a company that can put out such quality games of the same type for two other consoles just can’t get it right time and time again. The graphics are shiny and sparkly but not without their problems, the gameplay received a little bit of refinement but still has plenty of bugs, and the overall presentation of the game is just sub par.

Starting with the gameplay, Wrestlemania 21 just seems to get all the basics wrong. The buttons are what you would expect, one button for to strike your opponent, two grapple buttons, and two counter buttons. However, this doesn’t translate well into the game due to how incredibly stupid the other wrestlers are. For instance, you could be playing a tag match and have your opponent pinned to the mat and his partner won’t even run in to help him half the time, and even when he does he gets there too late. At other times, it will seem like the AI has run out of gas, especially when they will just stand there and not do anything at all for seconds. Later, the game will seem like it crashed and the AI is simply looping when they repeat the same actions, usually going for the same move or trying to climb the ropes, over and over and over again even though it never worked in the first place. Really, how can a game be fun to play when it feels like you are playing against some incompetent two year old?

The most frustrating aspect about WWE Wrestlemania 21, like with the previous Raw games, is that the gameplay really could have been fun. The game has plenty of features, different match types, customizations, wrestlers, and moves when wrestling, but all those features and match types don’t help when the game isn’t fun to play in the first place due to things like terrible hit detection (and this game is very, very bad). It is so disappointing to play a game where it is just no fun due to its sloppy, unrefined gameplay when it could have been a solid title with just a little more polishing.

At least the game has a decent career mode if you can actually get past how much of a pain it is to play Wrestlemania 21. You start off by making your own custom wrestler from the ground up (with plenty of nice little customizations thrown in) and then move on to earn cash by wrestling matches to by more moves, entrances, costumes, etc. After that, you can engage in dozens of matches on your way to stardom. The game has a pretty decent storyline, but it offers no ability to change it as it is all pre-scripted. Sure, there are some bugs and nuisances present here as well, but overall the career mode is the most engaging aspect of the game that would have been fun if wrestling the matches would have been tempting in the first place (sad that no kind of “simulate match” feature was available).

Moving on from the gameplay, the game is also presented very unpolished. The menus are ugly and clunky, hard to navigate through. There is nothing more frustrating and more of a turn off then a game that makes you want to snap it in half just because you can’t navigate the menus properly. Once you select what you want to do, the loading times can be downright unbearable at times (this is the Xbox, people!). Within the match, the graphics are actually surprisingly beautiful. Characters are very well designed and animated, the environments are detailed, the special effects are great. But, as with everything else in the game, there are problems. These problems exist in choppy framerates, occasional jagged edges, and animation issues.

Well, at least you’ll get some good online play out of the game, right? Right?! Sorry friends, but WWE Wrestlemania came with another bug: the online play won’t work. That’s right, after trying repeatedly this unlucky reviewer found that the game won’t connect. After checking around, it is obvious that everyone is having the same problem. Disappointing, indeed, and this only compounds on the problems of Wrestlemania 21. The verdict? Avoid this game at all costs.


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