Wrestlemania XXI (Microsoft Xbox)

Wreslemania XXI
Developer: Studio Gigante
Publisher: THQ
Genre: Sports/Wrestling
Release Date: 4/21/05

By now you’ve heard it from other sites and even my First Impressions: DO NOT BUY THIS GAME. It is hands down the worst Wrestling game ever made. THQ needs to issue a formal apology and a recall for allowing this level of crap to be sold to the public. Studio Gigante (makers of the worst fighting game ever, Tao Feng). Honestly THQ, what the flaming blue hell were you thinking, allowing this game to be made by SG??? THQ needs to be prevented from publishing another video game. NEVER EVER EVER. They’ve given us Nitro, Thunder, the two horrible RAW games, and now THIS! And the WWE? They need to sue both the aforementioned companies to get out of their contract because THQ hasn’t ever made a good wrestling game since Aki (makers of No Mercy and WM 2K) ran far away from their company. There has not been a single good wrestling game for the Cube or Xbox, and the PS2 games have all been below average to average at best. THQ needs the WWE license taken from them and given to a more capable company, because the fact such a glitch ridden fecal infested horrible game that is barely even playable was released, and for FIFTY DOLLARS, shows that either THQ has no quality control, or they just don’t care about gamers, and are here to suck money out of your wallet banking on the fact you will pay for the license over an actual quality gaming experience. Shame on you THQ, shame on you!

Do not buy this game people. Don’t even go near it. I know Inside Pulse has a lot of die hard wrestling fans, but listen to me. The game crashes constantly. It stalls constantly. It glitches more than any game I have seen in YEARS. There is a better use for fifty dollars out there. Hell, you can get a Dreamcast and Touken Retsuden 4 (New Japan wrestling) for that much and then you can enjoy what I consider the best wrestling video game ever made (FIre Pro Wrestling D is #2, and No Mercy gets #3)! WM XXI is horrible in every way possible. And now I’m going to have to go through and rant (and I’m sure some profanity is going to enter this review because I am THAT thoroughly disgusted with the fact any publisher would be this stupid or immoral to let this shitfest (See, there’s that profanity) see the light of day.

And if you’re one of those people that only reads reviews for the score? Here. It gets a 2.5. Happy now? Now you can just recite the number without actually perusing the content and the justification for that number. GO YOU!

Let’s Review

1. Modes

WMXXI has to have the worst story mode I have ever played in a game. First of all, no matter who you make, the character is an unlikeable jackass. And I’m not even talking HEEL vs FACE. I mean the script and delivery makes you look simply like a prick without charisma. Even the other heels in the game like HHH and Angle look like the good guys compared to this guy. And you’re supposed to have some sort of connection with your homemade character? No. You actually enjoy watching him get the crap kicked out of him.

The plot is something that would even make Vince Russo’s WCW run look sane, intelligent and plausible. And there’re no branching paths. It’s one linear “You must win this match or replay it until you do” sort of thing. Last I checked, wrestling wasn’t about being undefeated, unless you were Goldberg, and it actually takes the fun away. Whoever designed story mode knows little to anything about Sports Entertainment and the kinds of storylines people enjoy. The entire game consisted of “Player character is an outright bitchcakes to everyone else in the fed, consistently being insulting and disrespectful. Player character gets screwed over or attacked by the people he pissed off,” and then the PLAYER CHARACTER is someone we’re supposed to feel sorry for? What the hell?

Then there are bizarre things like “First Teddy Long is the manager of Smackdown, then somehow Kurt Angle is”. Or the “You vacate more titles than Shawn Michaels” running theme. Or even the “Eric Bischoff is the only babyface in the entire game!” aspect.

The Story Mode makes “Day of Reckoning” for the Game Cube look like it was spectacular.

Again, whoever made this mode knows absolutely nothing about Wrestling or wrestling storylines, and they need to hang their head in shame. I can’t believe none of the wrestlers involved in the game haven’t gone “What the hell is this?”

Let’s talk about the non story modes now. As always, Cage matches and ladder matches are horribly done. You can win a ladder match in a matter of seconds, while Cage matches take forever to climb out. You scale the cage really quickly, but then actually getting over to the other side takes an inordinate amount of time and loses any aspect of realism the game has. Is it really that hard to make it one continuous move as the same speed throughout to keep any aspect of “Hey, this feels like all those cage matches I’ve seen on TV are like.”?

And don’t even get me started on how bra and panty matches are the submission matches in the game. Yes, you read that right. Stripping women down to their knickers is done through submission button mashing style. Ugh.

But don’t worry! There’s online mode! You know, the most touted aspect of the game! The mode where you can run around with your homemade characters and homemade belts and take on other people from all over the world and have a lot of fun, even though all the preview builds of the game had massive lag! Well Studio Gigante sure fixed that. But not in the way you want them too. What do I mean? Well, YOU CAN’T EVEN GET ONLINE IN THE GAME. WMXXI just will not connect with Xbox Live, screwing you out of the big selling point of the game. Well, you can connect, but not through normal means. There is a long convoluted process to get online, and even then there’s so much lag that there’s no point in even playing. Online mode is as unplayable as a game can get.

And then there’s Create-A-Wrestler. You know, back when Acclaim’s WWF War Zone hit, this was awesome. I made everyone from La Parka to The Patriot. WWF Attitude allowed you to have about 100 homemade guys. THQ games (Not included AKI made games THQ Published) have always had horrible create a wrestler modes. And WMXXI is no exception. The customization is one of the most limited I’ve ever seen, and you have to pay to unlock anything really worthwhile. And considering you get 1-3000$ a match and some things are 150K, you will have to sit through this horrible game for a long time indeed. Especially when you have to buy any stats upgrades to your homemade characters. It’s like unlocking was made as a precursor to what Hell must feel like.

Oh yes, you also have to choose between online created characters and offline. And you can’t mix them or use one in both. And considering you have to play forever to boost their stats at all, this royally screws you over.

The worst part about Create-A-Wrestler mode is you have to permanently decide what your character’s frame and body shape will be like before you add any accessories. And then you can’t go back and change it if you want to tweak it. Again, who was stupid enough to design a create a wrestler mode like this? Just horrible. Totally horrible.

Finally, there is the profile mode. You have to make a profile in order to earn money. And if you forget to log on every time, no money for you. You can play through the entire career mode, and without a profile, you get nothing. It’s totally insane. But this is Studio Gigante and THQ for you.

There is nothing appealing about any of the modes in this game. It has the same standard schlock for match types, although none of them work very well due to game glitches, slowdown and the constant crashing of this game. Story Mode and Create-A-Wrestler are by far the worst versions of these modes ever put into a Wrestling video game, and will serve only to disappoint and frustrate you will the level of sheer crappiness that eminates throughout the game. Especially when none of the online components work.

Flat out simply awful.

Modes Rating: 2/10

2. Graphics

There are only two good things about this game. The graphics and the sound. And if that is all you are looking for in a video game, let me be the first to tell you to get a big “SUCKER” tattoo across your forehead, because THQ and Studio Gigante designed this game solely with you in mind.

The character designs are pretty good. At least the guys. The girls all look like those vampires on Buffy when they’re going into monster mode. THQ used a new technology to scan in the actual wrestlers’ physical appearances and it shows. This game has some of the best looking graphics I have ever seen in a wrestling game, and it is far superior to RAW or the Smackdown games.

Now for the bad news. The graphics are tempered out by consistent slow down that grows worse and worse with each character that comes to ring side. You can have a single one on one match and the game will slow, stall, or crash with just those two. And when you add a third or fourth person? God help you to have the patience to get through this crapfest. I have had matches go for five minutes to where I’m getting the pin, and the game freezes. Annoying.

And the create a Wrestlers will all look awful compared to the actual WWE Superstars. You won’t be able to get around that, even if you make Demolition or “Old Style Kane.” Your choices are that limited and ugly. My Macho Man Randy Savage was easier to make in WWE Attitude than this. He came out looking like a cross between Savage and X-pac. And considering the personality you get in Career Mode, you might as well ONLY make X-Pac.

So what we have here is a game that looks pretty but is bogged down by a lot of horrible visual problems such as glitches, bugs, and slowdown that makes Bullet Time look like Barry Allen speed.

Pretty to look at, but that’s as good as it gets.

Graphics Rating: 7/10

3. Sound

Get ready for the last compliments I have to give to this game!

The voice acting is by all WWE Superstars, and it’s great to hear them in the game. The downside is almost all of them are lacking their usual intensity and emotion. Teddy Long and Eric Bischoff do the best job with their lines, and they’re not even WRESTLERS. Booker T and Rey Mysterio Jr. do the best job with their lines, and Kurt Angle is decent as well. But the majority, guys like RVD, Orton, Chavo, and a few others just sound like they are talking to pick up an extra paycheck and nothing more. Ugh.

The music is good, as it is the actual WWE Superstars entrance themes, but then some of those are good and some are bad. And the generic songs in the game are just terrible. I was surprised to hear Anthrax and Public Enemy’s “Bring Tha Noize” as a menu selection song. Only mark out I had in the entire game.

The big problem again comes with slowdown and glitches as more often than not characters, ESPECIALLY announcers will end up sounding like Max Headroom with stuttering and repeating of lines. It’s awful. And every time they do a replay, massive slowdown and speech skipping will occur.

Both the Raw and Smackdown announce teams are very repetitive and will get on your nerves immediately, although the game is so bad, you may just be scapegoating on poor JR or Tazz.

WM XXI has decent voice acting that could have been a lot better had some of the guys put effort into their speaking. It’s like they knew in advance they would be embarrassed to have this game on their record and so they just phoned it in. This is coupled with usual WWE music and some crappy generic music.

Overall it’s a mixed bag, but it’s really nice to see the actual guys have voice acting, even if it is coupled with the worst story mode of all time.

Sound Rating: 7/10

4. Control and Gameplay

Okay. Here’s some honesty. THIS GAME IS CRAP. Man, just even thinking about the game raises my blood pressure and ire. The controls are amazingly buggy and glitch-filled. You can’t do your special moves if you select a ground or aerial move (Thanks for screwing over my Randy Savage THQ!), the reversal system (using both triggers) is either super easy or amazingly frustrating as it requires split second timing. On the lowest difficultly it tells you when to do it and you can get quite good at it since all you have to do is watch the screen. On any other level, you might as well forget about it.

Don’t even try doing a running move at the start of the game, as the computer will ALWAYS counter. As soon as you take a step, the game will glitch into a automatic backdrop or something like that.

And speaking of glitches, sometimes your character will be in the middle of doing a move and the game will freak out and then BAM! All of a sudden, your opponent will somehow be doing a move. And I don’t mean a reversal. I mean something so completely and utterly different you find yourself going “What the f*ck?” And yes, I’m sorry, but that is exactly the language you will be using with every single match you have in the game. The F word will flow freely and nonstop.

God, it would take me several pages to mention all the glitches, but let’s just do the major ones. There is little to no collision detection in the game. A guy can be on the mat and you can press the X button to hit him. The computer will not move at all, and you will still miss! You can be in the middle of punching the computer and even though you are right up against him and you see your man punch the CPU in the face, he will not take damage and suddenly in another freaky glitch your guy will be hit.

The game will stall often. The game will have trouble loading often. The game will crash frequently. SAVE OFTEN. If only to give yourself back a little bit of sanity.

The controls are simple as you have a button for strikes and 4 different grapple commands controlled by two buttons that can be decided by how long you depress the buttons. But it’s too bad that a nice simple potential control scheme has to be ruined by the fact half the time controls don’t work (Finishers mainly, and that is frustrating enough).

The worst part is the game really does come down to whoever gets the first hit. As soon as one of you is on the mat the game is over since it takes an eon to get off the mat. As soon as the person is down you can just lock on submission after submission until they tap. Totally unsatisfying, but the computer will do it to you.

Recovery time is non-existent in this game, and by that I mean you never recover. In a triple threat match I was irish whipped into the turnbuckles and just sat there dazed for a MINUTE. I couldn’t get out of the corner no matter what I pressed. Finally the computer came over and put me into a Tree of Woe. But I was unable to do anything at all.

Wrestlemania XXI truly has the worst engine I have ever seen in a wrestling video game, and to be honest, one of the worst engines for any game ever made. There is nothing remotely kind I can say about it. What compliments can you give to a game that shouldn’t have been released for another 6 months to a year due to all the problems with this game? There is no way this game should have been released. None at all. I can’t wait to hear THQ’s excuses for their reasoning for allowing this pile of fecal matter to be released to the general public.

Or better yet, why some other reviewers have given this game an 8 or 9.

This game’s engine, controls, everything about it gameplay wise is appalling in every sense of the word. Like I said earlier, THQ needs a recall or to be sued by the McMahons.

Control and Gameplay Rating: 1/10

5. Replayability

Heh. Well, there’s potential here. But since Online Mode doesn’t work, Create-A-Wrestler is horrible, there are massive loading times that sometimes last longer than an actual match, stalls, crashes, and glitches up the wazoo, I have to be honest and say this game is devoid of any replayability whatsoever, unless you really want to unlock everything in the game. And if you are that crazy, here is hoping your family and loved ones know the number to a good asylum.

But at least there is that potential for the crazy WWE Zealot with blinders on to go through and put up with all the horrible crap bogging this game down.

Replayability Rating: 2/10

6. Balance

There is no AI. Unless you count watching the computer do the same thing over and over again AI. You’ll laugh at first at Rey Mysterio and RVD vs your CAW and Booker T. Why? Because both characters will keep running to the top rope and trying a move, even if you are on the other side of the ring. Again and again and again. This is the AI for “High Flying Wrestler” I suppose.

The only time the computer will ever hit you is if the game glitches or you screw up a move. Occasionally it might reverse something you do, but that only happens with a rare few characters (HHH…what a surprise there!)

Even on the hardest levels there’s no challenge. All that happens in the computer reverses a few more moves. Here’s a hint. Take “Punch to the groin” for one of your strikes. You hit that once and the game is over and then you can just grapple them once and submission, submission, submission, no matter how high the difficultly or who the computer is playing as.

The fact you can do the same thing every match from here to eternity is a perfect showing that Studio Gigante put little to no effort into this game, and that THQ put even less effort into playtesting this or taking precautions into letting this be released. Both companies just didn’t care about the quality or the consumer. Finger shaking and scoldings for both.

And of course there’re the glitches and bugs. But I really don’t feel like mentioning those YET AGAIN.

Holy crap, run away from this game. No balance whatsoever. I promise.

Balance Rating: 1/10

7. Originality

None. There’s nothing new or actually original about this game at all. It’s the same matches they always have. There’s a few new wrestlers that haven’t been in games before, but that’s it. There is nothing at all even remotely original about this game. Yet another wrestling game devoid of any innovation or creativity. Next.

Originality rating: 1/10

8. Addictiveness

Ha ha ha ha. None. Unless you’re one of those gamers that plays with masochistic tendencies. After an hour of this game (20 minutes of which are loading), you will want to put this back or run to the store and DEMAND your money back.

There’s nothing about this game that will pull anyone in. Everything about it is god awful. Do glitchy matches turn you on? Does a game that crashes once a hour get you pumped and make you say “Damn, I want more of this!”? Do you want a Create a Wrestler mode that WWF Attitude was better than? Or massive loading times? How about an awful story mode than makes you long for the days of “Pinata on a Pole” matches? Well then I guess this is the game you’ve always dreamed of people.

Addictiveness Rating: 1/10

9. Appeal Factor

Only the insane and hardcore WWE fans are even going to remotely want to play this game after a few minutes. And even then, I can’t see anyone keeping this game or even wanting to touch it for more than an hour. But there’re people blind to the faults of their favorite passion in all genres. Final Fantasy fans. Megaten fans. Pokemon fans. Resident Evil fans, etc etc. With every long-running series or license, there are people in that fangroup who will buy the game for the name or the license and who will insist a game is good solely because of that. But for once, I can’t see even WWE fans being blind to the shortcomings of thing.

Appeal Factor: 3/10

10. Miscellaneous

Well, there’s a patch. But you know what I say to that? Too little, too late THQ. First of all, there’s a TON of people without Xbox Live. So already, you’ve cut the amount of people who can access the patch down to a fraction of Xbox owners. That’s wrong. Second of all, NO company should be that outright stupid to release a game this bad to consumers. You have quality control for a reason. Either THQ was impatient, greedy, or just outright assholes, and I’m willing to bet it was a mix of all three. What if this game had been for the Game Cube? Or the PS2? Then what would THQ have done? Because right now, a tiny message on their web site saying “Whoops!” isn’t good enough for me, and it shouldn’t be for anyone.

Plus you doing a patch sets a precedent that ANY company can release a pile of crap for fifty dollars and just say “Oh! There will be a patch! We promise” and gamers, being the trusting timid flock of sheep that they are will suck it up and give you the money. Guess what guys? Even with the patch, this game is STILL as bad as WCW Thunder.

THQ still needs to issue a recall or a refund to anyone who bought this game. The patch isn’t a fix, it’s a let down and a, “Guess what? We’ll do this again because we’re the only one that has a licensed wrestling game anymore. No WCW or ECW alternatives for you. Watch as we give all you gamers the big corporate middle finger.”

Well here’s one right back to you THQ. And get rid of the WWE license, because you don’t deserve it.

Miscellaneous Rating: 1/10

The Scores

Story: 2/10
Graphics: 7/10
Sound: 7/10
Control and Gameplay: 1/10
Replaybility: 2/10
Balance: 1/10
Originality: 1/10
Addictiveness: 1/10
Appeal Factor: 3/10
Miscellaneous: 1/10

Overall Score: 2.6
Final Score: 2.5 (Dreadfully Bad)

Short Attention Span Summary
Do not even CONSIDER buying this game. It is that awful. If you even for a second contemplate buying it, punch yourself in the genitals 5 or 6 times in a row as hard as you can. Because guess what? That’s less painful than playing this game. Send a message to THQ and hold on to your money. Let them realize they have to start doing a better job, or that they’ll go the way of Acclaim (the last company to have the WWE license) and that’s bankrupt. Get out of your contact with these guys Vinnie Mac. However you can.



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