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Midway is bringing TNA Impact! to the Wii a bit earlier than its opponent, THQ’s WWE SmackDown! vs Raw 2009. Clearly both are excited, what with each throwing in the exclamation point into their title. We’ve broken down both brawlers into distinct categories, and determined which looks to be the winner. All of this may change before release, but here’s how we call it so far.
A rather haphazard but nonetheless varied roster of wrestlers, ranging from former WWE stalwarts such as Booker T and Kurt Angle to monstrous super heavyweights such as Abyss and Samoa Joe. Much of TNA’s undercard is packed with thrilling cruiserweights - the team of Chris Sabin and Alex Shelley, as an example, are twice as exciting as a regular WWE tandem. There will be no playable female characters. Boo.
Strangely, considering WWE has a monopoly on wrestling like Bounty has a monopoly on coconut choccy bars, WWE’s roster is fairly weak these days, because many of the major players from wrestling’s heyday at the turn of the century have moved on. They’ve still got enough stars to pack-out a Wii game, mind, as a line-up that includes the Hardy Boys, Chris Jericho, Randy Orton, Undertaker, Mr. Kennedy and John Cena would attest.
The Midway guy tells us that the storylines have been written by the same guys who do the TV program, which chills us to the bone because, being kind here, TNA’s strength really isn’t in the clarity of its narrative. Impact’s story mode is heavily entwined with its create-a-wrestler mode; at the beginning, you’ve been beaten to a pulp and require ‘plastic surgery’ in a twist that mirrors Saints Row 2’s proposed storyline.
After the pretty mixed reaction to last year’s Success mode, Smackers on Wii has decided to adopt the same ‘Road to WrestleMania’ career mode as seen on X360 and PS3. An evolution of last year’s WWE 24/7 mode, which incorporated RPG elements into the proceedings, The Road to WrestleMania is strongly focused on tag-team match-ups, although it’s fairly unlikely that the Wii edition will feature online co-op.
Well, TNA’s standard ring boasts six sides, making normal matches more strategic than SmackDown’s. TNA is the home of the gimmick match, almost to a fault, and many are represented in the game, from the Monster’s Ball free-for-all to the Ultimate X match. Here, you have to clamber across a rope suspended above the ring and unhook a big giant ‘X’, achieved by correctly timing an impromptu minigame.
SmackDown 08 on Wii was a pretty stripped-down experience, but with the benefit of another year behind them, THQ are taking small, shuffly strides in the right direction. Smackers ’09 will feature cage matches and ladder matches, both of which will apparently involve climbing up the apparatus by holding the remote and Nunchuk sideways-on and ‘climbing’ with them. This is patently silly, but could be fun. Emphasis on the word ‘could’.