Total Extreme Wrestling 2008
Developer: Grey Dog Studios
Publisher: Grey Dog Studios
Release Date: 6/7/2008
An admission to make: I do not watch pro wrestling. Not anymore. I have always loved pro wrestling, I simply have not found a promotion that properly inspires me to keep track of it. I say this so that you understand how surprised I was to fall in love with Total Extreme Wrestling, again. When I purchased the last edition, in February of 2007, I had just stopped watching the WWE and was watching copious amounts of lucha libre. That game was a step forward from 2005 but it pales in comparison to this game, the finest game in a decade old series.
For the uninitiated, Total Extreme Wrestling is a wrestling management game. The player, or players, take the role of head booker, or head booker and owner, of any wrestling promotion they choose, from the number one Supreme Wrestling Federation to the last place Wrestling Engine XXV. Oh, you’ve never heard of the SWF or WEXVV? There’s a reason for that.
TEW ships with a default database filled with a set of fictional workers and promotions, but it’s more than just some fake wrestlers or real world analogs, it is a well crafted fictional world known as the Cornellverse. Named after Tommy Cornell, the world’s foremost wrestler and owner of the #4 promotion, Total Control Wrestling. Beyond Cornell, though, are over 30 promotions, all over the world from the vibrant Japanese scene to a resurgent Europe, from Puerto Rico’s FREEDOM Championship Wrestling to Australia’s Australian Pro Wrestling and 1600+ workers. I myself now play the Cornellverse exclusively, no longer downloading mods full of real world data, but that is an option if that is what you are into. That is also the beauty of TEW, unlimited customization.
If I have one pet peeve, it is when a game, especially a management sim, promises a sandbox experience but they only have one path to victory. Take the Movies, for example. The Movies seemed like a game with infinite possibilities, but it the only way to succeed was to give in to the big studio system and try to make a ton of cash and win awards. No making a long string of cheapies like Roger Corman or arty foreign films or low budget Sundance hopefuls. That is not a problem in TEW.
The only real goal you have to shoot for in TEW is to stay employed by keeping the owner happy and the company in business. Of course, if you play as an owner or start your own promotion, then you can be happy doing whatever you please and staying out of debt. Kind of like real life, eh? Although, in TEW, you can go to the editor and slip your company some extra cash. It might be cheating, but it’s your game, do what you want.
So, what’s new about TEW ’08? Well, let’s take a look at the Developer’s Journal.
This is a big one. Personalities are now malleable. An a-hole will most likely stay an a-hole, but there is a chance he will mellow out in a mellow setting. This makes locker room chemistry more important and it makes game play more random, as I discovered very quickly.
National and Regional Battles
This is one of the bigger changes. Now, companies can damage one another and prevent their continued growth and success. I am already dreading what this means for Mexico, since it has three promotions around the same size. Damn, I need to start a new game.
This one is huge! When playing a smaller company, days and weeks can go by without any major events. With multi-advance, you can skip ahead a few days or more. This speeds things up for observers and the unemployed, too.
Being able to swap champions off camera seems like a small thing, but it means that you can pull a Freebirds or Demolition with three men defending titles. Or phantom changes. Or tournaments in Argentina. Greatness.
The game now stores your chemistry between workers. Yes! This makes my life 3% better and it saves trees. I have a five subject notebook full of chemistry notes from a SWF game. I would buy TEW for this feature alone.
To put it more succinctly, if you enjoyed any previous game in the series, buy this one. The access to information is so much smoother and faster. If you are unfamiliar with the joys of TEW, check out the demo. It’s the business.
The thing about TEW is that the Story is entirely up to the player. Is it the story of a down and out wrestler trying to bring back the glory days with a small company? Or a young lion taking the reigns of a fast growing promotion? It’s up to the player. The biggest addition this year is how easily you can write angles on the fly.
Better than any previous year, the backgrounds and buttons are very good this year. If they don’t suit you, just replace them with one of the packs other players make. Just check out the Grey Dog Studios forum. If you have Photoshop, you can just make your own, like I did.
As far as the character renders go, they are mostly recycled from last year, with a few cool new ones. After sorting through the ‘People’ folder, I found a large number of alternative renders, many of which practically write storylines themselves.
Zero sound this year. Not even a song at the intro.
If you define control as ease of getting what you want, this version of TEW is the best controlling one yet. The Multi-Advance alone makes the control worthy of the rest of the game this year.
I was still playing 2007 when 2008 came out. I was still playing 2005 when 2007 came out. I was still playing the freeware Extreme Warfare Revenge before that. This game has an infinite amount of replay. I know this because I have been playing this sequence of games since 2002, nonstop.
Realism is at a premium here. If you play a juggernaut of a company, it is a complex web of finance, booking, and management. If you play as a tiny company, everything is a fly by the seat of your pants adventure. TEW is so beloved because it creates a realistic and logical world and it functions in a realistic, but fun way.
On one hand, it’s a sequel. On the other hand, it creates it’s own world of pro wrestling that is so believable and plausible, I find myself unable to go back to real world data.
I skip breakfast to get another month of play in, sometimes. I played the demo so much, I put in a year of Januaries. TEW may not be digital crack, but it is definitely digital coffee and cigarettes.
Do you like pro wrestling? Then you will like TEW. Do you like management sims? You will like TEW. Do you like nonstop, thrill a minute car chases? Me too, but there aren’t any in this game. It’s still awesome, though.
TEW comes with the Grey Dog Studios Forum, a great place full of great people. It can be infinitely fiddled with, altered, and modified. TEW is more than a hobby, it’s a way of life.
Due to the fact that Adam took a game I already loved and made it this much better, I can only recommend Total Extreme Wrestling with my highest esteem. I can think of no better way to kill an hour or twelve.
Control: VERY GOOD
Originality: VERY GOOD
Appeal Factor: CLASSIC
Miscellaneous: VERY GOOD
Final Rating: GREAT