Seasons greetings fellow gamers. As you can imagine, with all the wrestling games released, there's not much news going around. The only title that's yet to hit shelves is Acclaim's Legends Of Wrestling Showdown, which is due out in April of next year. Up until now, the only snippets of news regarding the game related to the fact that the Ultimate Warrior will be appearing in the game. However, it now appears that a few more names have been added to the line up. Guys you can expect to play as include Hulk Hogan, Bret Hart, Andre The Giant, Jake Roberts, Ricky Steamboat, British Bulldog, Dusty Rhodes, DDP, Rick Rude and many more. Acclaim have also announced that several Classic Matches have been recreated using the games' engine, which should also be very interesting. Showdown looks very promising indeed, and it looks a strong possibility that THQ will have a real rival in the Western wrestling games market. So, 2003 is almost over, and it's been a cracking year for gamers. For wrestling game fans, we've seen THQ put out their yearly selection of WWE titles for every console, the end of EWR and some unusual wrestling games, featuring everything from gangster rappers using snapmares and figure four leglocks to ICP promoting backyard wrestling.
Let's start off by looking at THQ's latest PS2 release, Smackdown! Here Comes The Pain. As I mentioned in my review (here) it's a great game with a lot of improvements over previous Smackdown! games, but there are still problems to be found.
On the Gamecube front, Wrestlemania XIX was released earlier in the year, and Dan did a great job of reviewing it (here). Despite lacking a proper career mode, Dan found the game to be enjoyable, and a few changes have made the game better than it's predecessor. Gamecube owners would struggle to find a better wrestling game on their system.
As for Xbox gamers, Raw 2 was released in October to a very positive reaction. While I've not yet had the chance to play the game, people I have spoken to are impressed with the title, and it is apparently leaps and bounds ahead of the original Raw game. The Xbox's hard drive makes Raw 2 a very enticing purchase, as the amount of things to download and edit is staggering.
Away from consoles, PC owners worldwide were disappointed to hear that Adam Ryland would stop working on new versions of Extreme Warfare Revenge to concentrate on his new simulator, Total Extreme Warfare. For the first time ever, Jennings will charge users for the game. Is it going to be worth the money? We'll find out next year.
As I mentioned earlier, wrestling games tried to branch out this year, by adding new ideas to an old formula. One example of this was Def Jam Vendetta. Using the ever-popular AKI engine, EA Sports BIG went about making a wrestling game with rappers. To be honest, the game took me by surprise, as I imagined I would hate it due to the rap elements involved. But I actually found myself liking the game, despite it's faults. Yes, it's a very simple game, and there's next to no replay value, but in the short term or in two player mode, it's a good little game. Credit should go to EA for doing something a little bit different in the genre, and even although it wasn't perfect, it still had THQ running scared for a while.
Backyard Wrestling, on the other hand, also tried to take a different approach to the standard wrestling game, but didn't do quite as well. I was actually planning to review Backyard Wrestling, but due to a blunder with the box (no age limits were given on the packaging), all copies have been recalled from stores. As soon as I've played it, I'll let everyone know if it's as bad as you've heard it is.
Well, that's the year in review then. Apologies for the lack of concrete news this month, but you can only play with the cards that you're dealt. So I hope everyone has a great time at Christmas, and hopefully if you're all not hung over, I'll see you again in January, hopefully with lots of juicy news.