There are two ways to look at this game. As a wrestling fan, especially an ECW fan, you will find that the game possesses the options and gameplay that you would expect from the hardcore wrestling foundation. As a gamer you will find that the game is limited in gameplay and nearly identical to its predecessor, ECW Hardcore Revolution. Acclaim has not bothered to update its wrestling engine since WWF Raw and simply changes the options and aesthetic aspects.
I was appalled at the lack of new stuff in this game. Sure there are new wrestlers and some new moves, but that can get old really quickly. The main selling point is the new options. There is a table match where opponents can be tossed out of the ring onto surrounding tables and break right through them. There is also the Dumpster match, which doesn’t end until a wrestler gets thrown into a dumpster and even a Brimstone match where the ring is surrounded by flaming lava rocks (a.k.a. brimstone).
As opposed to some of the other wrestling games on the N64 and Playstation, the character models and collision detection are remarkably good in Anarchy Rulz. Players can choose from over 60 wrestlers or they can create their own using the build-a-wrestler system. Each fighter is pretty detailed and realistic, at least for the Playstation. In combat the wrestlers have good animations and they retain their good design while pummeling and performing moves on each other. My biggest pet-peeve about wrestling games is watching one player body slam or pin another player and seeing their arms and legs get tangled in each other. This glitch has been fixed for the most part in Anarchy Rulz.
“All New Control System!” the back cover reads. The control was one of my biggest complaints with the previous Acclaim games. And sadly the control in Anarchy Rulz is hardly “all new”. Though the control has been dumbed down a little so some of the moves are easier to pull off, the basic premise of the control remains the same. You can either trap your opponent in a grapple before performing a move or attack them with a move from a standing position. This means that as you are wearing down an opponent with punches and kicks they can grab you and get you in a pile driver completely out of the blue. Of course you can do this too, but it takes too long to punch the moves into the controller. In addition, if you punch it in too fast then the game will not register that you put it in correctly. The best way to get a move off is to perform a grapple, but even then, not all the moves are immediately available. You have to gain a certain amount of momentum to perform the really strong moves. This can be frustrating especially for kids who just want to see their favorite wrestlers’ finishing moves.
The gamer side of me wants to say that Acclaim needs to focus their efforts on better control and revamp the gameplay. However, the wrestling fan in me is just happy to see more options and tons of blood. Who cares how it plays as long as I am throwing someone into a Dumpster or beating someone with a bat. However, I think that you do not have to sacrifice one for the other. Acclaim could have included all of these options without sacrificing control and gameplay. The most obvious example is the default moves. If you are in a grapple and you fail to pull off a really stunning move combination, the wrestler will go into a weak default move like a grapple or an arm bar. This gets really aggravating after about the fourth time in a row especially when you could swear you are doing the other move correctly. In contrast other wrestling games have moves assigned to every direction on the D-pad. This way you don’t have to watch the same lame move continuously.
If you don’t have Hardcore Revolution and are a wrestling fan then Anarchy Rulz is worth getting. However, if you already have one or more of the Acclaim wrestling games then this version is definitely not a must-buy. You will only have to play it for a couple of hours before you realize that you have done all of this before. Acclaim really does not care about creating anything new since wrestling fans will eat up any new thing that comes out. Do the gamer in me a favor and protest this game by refusing to buy into the “new wrestling game” mentality. Or you could side with the wrestling fan in me and get some friends over to see which one bleeds first in a barb wire match.
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