Review: TNA Impact!

Back in 2008, the now defunct Midway Games tried their hand at a professional wrestling game. The problem is that they didn’t try very hard. TNA Impact! begins immediately with the masked wrestler Suicide. He’s holding the TNA World Championship above his head as confetti rains down on him. The celebration is cut short, however, as the tag team of Homicide (yup they have wrestlers named both Homicide and Suicide) and Hernandez, known collectively as LAX, beats him within an inch of his life. After waking from the beatdown-induced coma, Suicide finds himself in a hospital bed. His red and blue mask has been replaced with a mask of bandages and a body cast to match. He’s informed that he has been beaten so badly that emergency plastic surgery is required. This is where the player comes in. You are now tasked with reconstructing Suicide by creating your own wrestler. This premise sounds somewhat interesting (albeit ridiculous), but really loses steam when you realize that the create-a-wrestler system has less depth than systems from dated wrestling games like Wrestlemania 2000. If you’re not careful, you’ll end up with a tattooed man in purple tights, tasseled Ugg boots, and a white mask. He is an uninspired creation, but then again, so is this entire game.

With the reinvented Suicide, you fight your way back to the ranks of TNA in hopes of one day discovering who hired LAX to beat you down. To accomplish this, you wrestle all over the world (and by all over I mean Japan, Mexico, and a random armory) in an attempt to be noticed by the TNA brass. After about fifty unbearable matches, this story culminates with you facing off with the true mastermind of your beat down in one of the most unfair boss battles of all time. What’s worse, it’s borderline unplayable thanks to a broken control scheme.

The B button is responsible for climbing the turnbuckle, exiting and entering the ring, picking up weapons, pinning your opponent, and pretty much every other non-strike action of which you could possibly think. That, in itself, would not be an issue if the direction you pushed while pressing B had any effect. Even if you’re much closer to the turnbuckle than you are to your downed opponent, don’t expect to be able to climb it just because you are holding your joystick in its general direction. Instead, you might go for the pin or unexpectedly leave the ring. With that sort of uncertainty, the only viable tactic is to spam X for repeated strikes. And that’s as boring as it sounds.

That boredom is further exacerbated by monotonous matches thanks to unfair yet predictable AI. Most of your fights will be mindless. However, don’t expect any easy victories. The TNA superstars do about five times as much damage as you. This would be okay if there was any way to improve your wrestler’s stats to be on par with the likes of Kurt Angle or Sting, but sadly there is not. Instead, you are stuck developing cheap strategies involving one or two moves so the AI opponent can never touch you. Because, let me assure you, if your opponent ever gets a move off, you are going to lose. As a result, when you aren’t restarting due to a loss, you will be spending your career doing cross body blocks and diving elbow drops. Or if you’re really cheap, you’ll leave the ring because your opponent will always follow. From there, If you run close enough to the steel ring steps, the AI is too stupid to avoid them and will trip every time (this represents the most satisfying aspect of the entire game). Because you must exploit patterns like this to win, every match is going to feel the exact same.

The roster isn’t doing anything to help with the fact that every match feels the same. There’s just not much variety in opponents as there are only 20 or so playable characters. Yes, there are fan favorites like AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Christian Cage, Shark Boy, and Curry Man, but the majority of your career will be spent fighting randomly generated wrestlers. Save a few of your cross body blocks for some jean-clad gems like “Beardy McGee” and “The Bulgarian.”


BROPINION

This is easily one of the worst games on the Xbox 360. With it’s thin roster, broken control scheme, lackluster AI, and laughable story, TNA Impact! manages to suck all the fun out of pro wrestling. If you want to scratch your wrestling video game itch, play a WWE game. If you want to scratch your TNA itch, watch it on TV. Just for the love of God, don’t play this game.

0 Chicks out of 5

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