I am not the biggest wrestling game fan there is. The negative things I have heard about the vast majority of them didn't help change my opinion. So I put in World Championship Wrestling Mayhem with the mindset that it wouldn't be anything very special. And despite the rather silly but nonetheless flashy intro, I must say I was wrong. This game is rather fun. It very easy to get into, and while I can not boast the ability to spit out every detail about a given wrestler just by listing to a sample of his particular theme song, I can say that did not really matter at all. I liked the game even though I am not the biggest wrestling fan there is.
So how will fans like it? I think they will like it just fine. Wrestling is an event watched by both adults and children, and Electronic Arts had the tough job of catering to both of them. The controls are simple enough that a little kid can dig in and just play while still holding a level of sophistication that older fans will appreciate, such as combo button activated special moves. All the major players are there, even though some are secret, complete with the digitally rendered mannerisms and singular moves of their flesh and blood counterparts. It seems they got every detail down. And while the announcers can get repetitive after awhile, they do interact with the match very well.
WCW Mayhem gives you many options right on the onset. The Quick Start lets a player go right in and play with very little else to worry about. Just pick a wrestling character and you are all set. Main Event lets you challenge a friend or the CPU in a single match with any two competitors. Quest for the Best lets a solo player compete for a championship belt in a consecutive set of matches, and Pay-Per-View lets you access saved games. I gotta say, though, that Mayhem holds a lot fewer options than WWF Attitude.
The Create Wrestler feature was adequate but they could have spent some more time on it. It gives you the basic choices such as size and build (small, large, and big), a host of hairstyles and faces. It is somewhat limited, but you can select your temperament and theme music, even though you are borrowing a theme song from an existing wrestler. While that is all well and good, it is the costume selection that really lacks. You get a rather silly list of costumes, including some generic, Japanese wrestler styles and really Hillbilly ones (why anybody would want to wrestle as a Hillbilly is beyond me). In the end, I really don't see the point of making your own wrestler.
The graphics is a downside. The characters are distinctive enough that you could recognize them and all the moves are pretty much executed smoothly, but collision detection is not well done. All the objects are more two-dimensional than three. And the backgrounds are flat and pasted. Another problem is the load time, which can get pretty extreme at times. However, when you start playing and flinging your opponent left and right, it kind of makes up for it. With a whole host of wrestling games coming your way, I think WCW Mayhem could have what it takes to stand apart from them.
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