You’d be forgiven for taking one look at TNA Impact and thinking, “It’s wrestling. How different could it be from any other wrestling game?” After all, it is wrestling, and it is very similar in many ways to other grappling games - specifically THQ’s long-running WWE franchises. However, after spending some time with the latest version of the game in our hands, we discovered quite a bit more difference than we expected.
The first thing we noticed was the speed. When compared to most WWE games, the wrestlers in TNA Impact are more fleet of foot, execute their moves more swiftly, and recover faster when an enemy attack lands.
This is a reflection of both the overall TNA style - heavily based upon the showy, high-flying techniques favored by masked Mexican luchadores - and of TNA’s wrestlers themselves. They tend to be slightly smaller in stature (though still massive), but more heavily conditioned and more generally athletic when compared to the hulking bodybuilders and ponderous man-mountains that populate WWE.
Now granted, there are substantial variances between the 25 or so in-game grapplers (including ex-WWE guys like Sting, Booker T, and Kurt Angle), so not everyone is a clone of Rey Mysterio - but this is notably more acrobatic and there are a ton of rope and turnbuckle moves. And this is still wrestling, so it’s more deliberate than a straight-ahead arcade fighter like Mortal Kombat, but there’s definitely a brisker pace to it.
Complementing this speed is flexibility. There are more than a thousand moves in the game, but crazy button combinations and obscure commands are unneeded (and was covered in detail in our first hands on). This is more about timing and reflexes.
Speaking of which, there are at least three, if not four counter windows in each move. What this means is that not only can you counter an opponent’s attack, he can counter your counter, you can counter that counter, and he might be able to counter yet again, if he’s quick enough. Keeps things interesting
Also, if you happen to find yourself in the grasp, if your captor doesn’t input a move within a second or two, the grab switches from him being in control to a neutral lockup, from which either of you can execute a move. We really liked this aspect, because we hate those long moments in WWE when you’re just stuck in the opponent’s grasp, waiting for him to have his sweaty way with you. This minimizes the agony.
So do the graphics, which are already sharp and smooth and can only get better as the game gets closer to launch. Perhaps it’s because the motion capture was done by real TNA wrestlers - whatever the reason, it looks damn pretty and the wrestlers have a nice, tangible feel to them.