Players: 1 to 4 Player Game | Release Date: 09/08/03 | Genre: Wrestling
During the course of a WWE review, I guess I will have to admit to my past love of professional wrestling. I grew up watching the WWF in its prime. I saw many great matches, the introduction of many classic wrestlers, and watched the dawning of new shows like RAW and Nitro. For those of you wondering, I don't keep up with the sport nearly as much. I personally feel like things are not as good as they used to be. However, that said, I was looking forward to playing Wrestlemania XIX on the GameCube.
Developer Yukes returns in their role of forming the latest GameCube WWE licensed game. In last year's Wrestlemania XVIII, THQ made the switch from Aki to Yukes. WM18 was not as polished as past titles from Yukes but they sought to correct many of those mistakes in this year's version.
Players will find many great styles of play in Wrestlemania XIX. These include Tag, Handicap, Royal Rumble, Fatal Four Way, and single matches. You can also further customize most of the matches to have different rules like Hell in the Cell, Table, Ladder, and hardcore rules. In addition to this, you can also create a King of the Ring Tournament. For those of you not familiar with King of the Ring, it is a single elimination tournament. You can create the tournament to be anywhere from four to sixteen different wrestlers. However, if you are just starting out in the game, you may find it helpful to go through the tutorial hosted by the ever-popular Al Snow. Since he is the Tough Enough coach, he will whip you into shape so you are ready to make a title run!
One gameplay mode I failed to mention above is the story mode. In Wrestlemania XIX it is referred to as Revenge. No matter what character you choose, at the beginning of the Revenge Mode, you will be escorted out of the arena and told that Mr. McMahon has fired you. On your way out, Stephanie McMahon offers you a contract if you will perform tasks for her in order to get revenge of Vince. These missions consist of four levels with six missions in each one. Unfortunately, this mode, while original, takes away from what this game is... Instead of performing tasks in the squared circle, you are asked to do things like destroy everything you see at a mall or on a construction site. The problem is that there will always be two or three thugs to try and stop you. While these aren't professional wrestlers, they all know how to do wrestling moves. The frustration with cheap enemy AI in these modes combined with the fact that they just aren't that well designed leaves you with a bad taste in your mouth. How about we just get a normal story mode next time Yukes?
Visually, the game looks much better--especially in the player models. Each character is rendered to look like their real-life counterpart--complete with a realistic sequence when walking to the ring. Characters also have all of the tattoos and costumes to ensure they are as authentic as possible. Besides the player models, the arenas and crowd look nice too.
A great feature in Wrestlemania XIX is the create a wrestler mode. Here, you can create yourself, or virtually any type of character, as a WWE superstar! Prepare to spend a great deal of time going through this mode. There are so many menus to go through that you may grow tired of creating your wrestler. However, when you get done, you will find that with so much customization available to you, you will have a complete wrestler with a full arsenal of moves. The time spent can be extremely rewarding if you put a little though into your wrestler.
Besides the Revenge mode, the gameplay is very solid in WM19. This year there is a modified grappling system that consists of strong and weak moves. Depending on which way you move the analog stick, which buttons are pressed down, and where you are standing out will determine what move you perform. Players can also taunt their opponents by using the d-pad. During a match, you will find that as you get the crowd behind you, your character will gain momentum. This is important in determining the winner of a match. With momentum on your side, you can block attacks easier, climb out of a cage or up a ladder faster, or eventually perform your finishing move. However, like in the Revenge mode, the enemy AI can be very cheap. While it is still an improvement over last year's version, this area of the game still has some work to be done.
Overall, Wrestlemania XIX is a solid title that fans of the WWE will want to pick up. Even if you aren't into professional wrestling, you may find something to enjoy hear with this beat 'em up title. While the game isn't perfect, I expect Yukes will go back to the drawing board and try to correct these few mistakes for next year's version.