TNA Impact!

  • Big sweaty mens
  • Tons of swagger
  • Full of quirkiness
  • Mangled controls
  • Dull graphics
  • Lack of variety

If there’s one thing we know, it’s that you can take on a huge gaming franchise either by being a much better game or having a stronger IP. TNA Impact! manages to do neither with such style and grace that we’re frankly a little impressed. It desperately wants to be WWE Smackdown – wearing the same clothes and sporting the same haircut, without having any of the parts that make the series as playable or appetising. That’s not to say it hasn’t got most of the things that Smackdown has, painfully shoehorned into bizarre TNA Events, or that it isn’t indeed a wrestling game about wrestlers.

The problem is that it’s a pretender and a phony, a game that constantly wants to be something it’s not, and as a result, looks rather ridiculous. You play as any one of the no-namer TNA wrestlers – and Kurt Angle! – such as Shark Boy and Sting (no, not that Sting) and bash your way through the heads and bodies of other wrestlers in Exhibition, Tag Team, Free For All (four wrestlers against each other), and a really bizarre event where you have to make a grab for a gigantic X at the top of the arena.

The meat of the game’s unlocks, challenge and, well, point comes in the form of the Story mode. It’s told in a confusing set of flashbacks, where you’re apparently the wrestler Suicide, who gets beaten up after refusing to take a fall in a match, but then he wakes up with amnesia. However, he constantly refers to himself as Suicide – and – well, it doesn’t really make much sense. You wake up so badly wounded that you have to recreate your wrestler from scratch – face, body and all – and then fight through a series of progressively more contrived matches to get back to your former glory.

It isn’t particularly interesting, well told, or enjoyable – but as the only way to unlock new arenas in the game, it’s one of the most frustrating requirements of TNA. To play on anything other than an arena in Canada, you have to struggle through the precocious AI, which seems to have a wonderfully old-school habit of ramping up the difficulty just as you’re about to win. What doesn’t help are the controls that are awkwardly changed so as to not completely ape Smackdown, but instead only manage to get in the way of you desperately trying to win. This only gets worse as you deal with more than one opponent. TNA doesn’t really know how to deal with two separate wrestlers at once, choosing one at random and locking you to him. This makes for an awkward game of hoping you’re hitting the right guy – and most of the time unfortunately, you won’t be.

The overall experience of TNA Impact! is one of constant mediocrity. It’s a bunch of no-name wrestlers doing the same old moves to each other, with dull graphics (incredible, considering it’s the Unreal Engine 3) and a complete lack of variety in any of the modes. Not even customising your wrestler is particularly fun, and in comparison to the things you can do with Smackdown 2008, it’s actually rather sparse content-wise. How could Midway have thought that this would be an acceptable strategy to take with wrestling fans that have grown used to a glut of superstars, options and modes?

In fact, in comparison to just about anything that Smackdown does, TNA is nothing more than a damp squib. While we used the words ‘fun’ and ‘enjoyable’ to describe the latest WWE title, we didn’t even crack a smile playing TNA. It’s lifeless, quirky in all the wrong ways, and tries so hard to make it clear how ultra-serious, cool and important wrestling is which seems to smother any sense of fun you might accidentally have. At least Smackdown has something about it approaching a sense of humour. TNA desperately wants us all to believe that these are men making a living being big and tough, and Midway wants us to feel cool in association by playing their wonky-arsed game. If you’re a fan of wrestling, get the latest Smackdown title – and if you’re a fan of fighting games, get a real one – because this won’t scratch any itch related to fighting, wrestling, or gaming in general. Give it a miss.  

Sep 30, 2008

More Info

Release date: Sep 09 2008 - Xbox 360, PS3
Sep 16 2008 - Wii (US)
Oct 03 2008 - Wii (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360, PS3, PS2, Wii
Genre: Sports
Published by: Midway
Developed by: Midway
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Alcohol Reference, Violence, Mild Suggestive Themes, Mild Language
PEGI Rating:
16+: Violence

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  • Jason.Darksavior - October 18, 2008 8:54 a.m.

    I knew it would be a major flop! Lucky, i didnt purchase it!
  • theaznboy510 - September 30, 2008 10:10 p.m.

  • skyguy343 - September 30, 2008 9:03 p.m.

    bow chicka bow wow
  • hjames - September 30, 2008 7:49 p.m.

    Very nice look and feel!
  • MitsuharuSan - January 30, 2009 1:05 p.m.

    Sting a no-namer? LMAO.
  • SJS - December 17, 2008 1:23 a.m.

    You really should leave the reviewing of this game to someone who is actually knowing of the sport itself..not criticizing your reviewing, only your knowledge of the sport itself.
  • Halfpound - April 27, 2009 9:33 a.m.

    I bought this game thinking it would be good to play. Boy was I wrong. The controls are all messed up and the whole story plot is LAME. I am glad i still have WWE Smack Down VS RAW 2009. One good thing tho about the game, I bought it used!! paid like 15 dollars, still too much for a crappy game, considering the person who traded it in didn't have the box or instructions for it.But it was pretty self explanatory. Just very awkward in the buttons and all. What they need to do to help with this suffering is cheats to unlock all the arenas and wrestlers. But then it would still be a horrible game but at least a bit more fun.I do not think i will play it again. I am not even gonna trade it in. I wouldn't want some one else to purchase that crap and go through the agony.
  • SJS - December 17, 2008 1:27 a.m.

    My apologies...misunderstood who reviewed this.