Going into TNA Impact I had high hopes this title would revitalize what has otherwise become a stagnant genre the past few years. The past few WWE titles have suffered from the Madden syndrome in that you could only really consider each year’s version an incremental increase. All the signs leading up to Impact’s release pointed to the fact that we were indeed going to see a fresh take on the wrestling genre. After some play time however, it appears as if that initial impression was incorrect. Mirroring the TNA Impact television show, this game has a lot of potential, however, ultimately fails.
As soon as you get to the main menu you hear either AJ Styles or Samoa Joe’s music playing in the background which I thought was a nice touch. The interface and the menu system looked clean, however, I would later find out that was due to the lack of options and modes given to the players. Being a huge wrestling fan myself I immediately jumped into a wrestling match to try and immerse myself in the TNA experience. Unfortunately that is where you could see that Midway cut corners in the development of this game. First of all the entrances are incredibly short and they are not even entirely accurate. On television when a wrestler is making an entrance there is always a video shown briefly and then the camera cuts to the wrestler and follows them down to the ring where they continue to interact with the crowd. The camera system in this game does not do any of that. Instead it stays on the wrestler being introduced for a few seconds as the announcer says the wrester’s name and then it moves on to the next wrestler. There is also no tag team support in this game. You can have tag team matches, however they are not recognized as tag teams. I tried to play as established tag teams such as the Motor City Machine Guns or the Latin American Exchange and each person was introduced individually instead of being introduced as a tag team. This is a huge oversight on Midway’s part and is unacceptable. There are also no Knockouts in the game so if you were hoping to take on Awesome Kong or put a paper bag on your opponent’s head as one of the Beautiful People then you are out of luck. The weekly segments on TNA Impact featuring the Knockouts are consistently some of the highest rated on the show so why Midway chose to leave them completely off the game is a complete mystery.
TNA Impact features the standard modes you would see in every wrestling game such as singles, tag team and things of that nature. The one mode that does stand out however is the Ultimate X match. This is a match where there is a big “X” hanging above the ring and the way to win the match is to get it down. The catch here is that there are no ladders in the match. As you are going through you will notice the controls work pretty nicely once you understand how to control your wrestler. It is definitely one of those things that you can pick up and play however it will be a little while before you truly master them. With that being said all of the wrestlers have the same basic move set so it can get repetitive quickly. Your created wrestler is even worse since you only have five open slots and you can’t pick their move set in the beginning. You can only use the default move set in the beginning and you will unlock more moves the more you play….after you really don’t need them anymore. The options for creating your own wrestler are fairly sparse compared to the competition and something I hope improves in the next title.
With all of that being said, TNA Impact does have its positive points as well. The graphics look nice and the models for all of the wrestlers look pretty incredible. The Impact Zone looks just like it does on t.v. and at least before the match it has some cool camera angles that are seen weekly on the television show. The animations generally seem to be fluid as you can go from move to move seamlessly. The commentary in the game can get fairly repetitive but at least it is the actual voices of some of the TNA stars. Matches over Xbox Live seem to work fairly well with little slow down. I had trouble getting matches at times but once I did everything seemed to work fine. Midway has promised downloadable content in the future so one can only hope that maybe we will see more wrestlers and moves added to the roster. The wrestlers that are on the roster do feature some of TNA’s biggest names such as AJ Styles and Samoa Joe. Anyone who is a big TNA fan should have some fun getting to control these guys. The achievements are also fairly easy to acquire as long as you put in some time. It will probably take you around eight hours or so to go through the story mode with your created wrestler. One nice touch is that on the game disc as well as a bonus disc that was included with the game, they put some actual matches on there from TNA Impact. You can pop a disc in and watch TNA’s first ever match as well as a few other bouts. That is definitely something I wish THQ would do with the WWE games as it is a great way to introduce people to the sport who might not normally watch.
Overall this is a series that has a lot of potential that wasn’t realized in this particular title. If you just want to have some fun or you have some friends over this could be a great party game. Hopefully the sequel is more fully featured and if that turns out to be the case, I can’t wait to play it.