Welcome back to the Retro Review, the column that takes those crazy childhood gaming memories and turns them into tangible bundles of blogging joy. Following on from the last retro review on WWF WarZone, we’re taking a look today at it’s much acclaimed (if you pardon the pun) sequel, WWF Attitude.
The WWF was really starting to catch fire by the end of 1998. It’s main rival, WCW, was plagued by creative and political problems, causing it to fall further and further behind, while WWF’s storytelling was at the best it had ever been. Edgy, bold and pushing the envelope, this was WWF with attitude.
The WWF took full advantage of this, making this it’s main marketing slogan. The period is now fondly remembered by wrestling fans and historians as the “Attitude Era” – arguably the golden age of wrestling.
Not so much the golden era of video games, though. Following on from the previous outing, WWF WarZone, comes a sequel that more or less manages to do more of the same, but bigger, better, and just as bad. The actual gameplay has changed very little, it’s still a clunky 3D wrestling game, although there is now a much wider selection of wrestlers (and therefor, moves) to choose from. Although in the ring the game feels more or less exactly like WWF WarZone did, the one thing the game expanded upon greatly was the features.
As mentioned, there was a much expanded roster of wrestlers to choose from, consisting of most of the current roster from late 1998 / early 1999, including, and I’m not kidding, the ability to play as Al Snow’s head, and Paul Bearer, of all people. This made a welcome change from the dozen characters available from WWF WarZone, although I am sad Gillberg was not included in this particular game.
Still, I’m well catered for in that regard by the improved Create-A-Wrestler feature, which made it’s debut in WarZone. Apart from having much greater control over the characters features and appearence, there is now the ability to customise apparel, introduce custom movesets, and choose entrance music and lighting setups for the character. This includes exclusive music tracks just for created wrestlers, and also spoken names which announcers can call your character by! Very posh.
Not only can you create wrestlers, though, but with the popularity of “stables”, or groups (such as The Corporation, D-Generation X or The Ministry of Darkness) in the WWF at the time, a feature called Create A Stable was added. Band together your badly created wrestlers into one stable! They even came out together during the same entrance…
The match modes are where the real fun is though, as this has been expanded upon hugely from the small handful of match types available in WarZone;
- Triple Threat – A regular match with 3 participants. The first one to meet the win conditions won the match.
- Triangle – Similar to a Triple Threat, but meeting the win conditions only eliminates one participant. The match ends when all other participants are eliminated.
- Fatal Four Way – A regular match with 4 participants. The first one to meet the win conditions won the match.
- Fatal Four Way Elimination – Like Fatal Four Way, but all opponents must be eliminated to win.
- Handicap – A match with 3 or 4 participants. Most of the participants are aligned to battle 1 singular opponent. This can be ‘1 vs 2′, ‘1 vs 3′ or ‘1 vs Tag’ (where the advantaged team works within tag team match rules.
- Toughman – Adds an Elimination rule to the handicap match, requiring the disadvantaged player to eliminate all of his opponents.
- Gauntlet – A match with up to 6 participants. Player 1 must beat 4 other opponents, one after another. Alternatively, Player 1 must use his tag team to beat 2 other tag teams, one after the other. The match ends when Player 1 is defeated, or has beaten all challengers.
- Stable – A match for 4 teams. One member of each team begins the match. When someone is pinned or is submitted, they are eliminated from the match, and then the next member of their team continues the match. Once all four members of one team has been defeated, the entire team is eliminated. The final team remaining wins the match.
- Battle Royal – A Fatal Four Way Elimination match in which the only win condition is to throw all other opponents out of the ring. This is done by performing an Atomic Whip or a Body Slam when the opponent is stunned.
- Falls Count Anywhere – The match can be won by pin attempt outside of the ring. Ring out counts are disabled.
- “I Quit” – Similar to Falls Count Anywhere, the match can only be won with a submission attempt.
- TKO – A player is automatically defeated if his health bar is completely depleted.
- Last Man Standing – A hardcore match. The only way to win is to knock out your opponent. This can only be achieved if the opponent is lying stunned on the ground, and is left untouched. If the count reaches 10 before they recover, they are defeated.
- 2 out of 3 Falls – Once the win conditions are met, the winner is awarded 1 point and the match continues, with the loser gaining a health boost. The first person to win 2 points wins the match.
- Iron Man Match – When someone meets the win conditions, they score 1 point. The match continues with the fallen receiving a health boost. The person with the most points when the time limit expires win the match.
- Finishers Only – This match is won when a player performs the Finisher move.
- First Blood – Opponents are defeated by causing them to bleed from their head or midsection.
- Royal Rumble – A battle royal for 30 participants. The match begins with just 2 participants, as more are added at regular intervals. This continues until 4 men are in the match at one time, and no new participants will enter until someone else has been eliminated. The match ends when 29 of the 30 participants are eliminated. The last person remaining wins the match.
- King of the Ring – A tournament made up of 7 matches in all, for 8 participants. Each match winner advances in the tournament while losers are removed. The overall winner must win 3 matches to win the tournament. In single player mode, this allows no rests in between matches.
- Survivor Series – A tag team match with 4 participants on each team. It starts like a regular tag team match. Once someone is defeated, they leave the area and are replaced with another team member. All 4 members of the opposing team must be defeated to win.
That’s a HUGE number of match types compared to the old game, I mean, inexplicably huge. There’s a lot of match types in here that haven’t been featured at a wrestling event since Lou Thesz hung up his boots. This is detail.
Unlike WarZone, this game features full entrances for the characters, including music, pyro and stage. Even more incredibly, you can create your own arena in this game, customising the TitanTron, ring aprons, and other colour schemes / logos to suit your taste, and create your own wrestling event.
All these bells and whistles didn’t really do a lot to save it from the main problem dogging WarZone though – it was arse to play once you were actually in the ring. It was more fun to create wrestlers, entrances and fantasy cards than it was to actually wrestle in the game. Sadly this is what lead to it’s somewhat mixed reception. It’s not unplayably awful, but it could be better.
….. maybe developer THQ can do better? Maybe I can do a 3-Part Retro Review? Maybe Vince McMahon can screw The Rock out of the title? We’ll find out next time….