Dale and I are pretty much in agreement here. My early impressions of the graphics were pretty negative as I was underwhelmed by the overall presentation. Despite having sharp graphics and smooth animation, Dale hits the nail on the head when he describes Wrestlemania as looking a little dated with the polygon clippings and blocky appearances. What eventually helped me overlook the aged graphics, though, was the remarkably evolved engine and gameplay. By focusing on improving an already solid engine previously used in Revenge, the developers (Aki) have finely tuned all its gameplay elements to the point of precise balance and pure craftsmanship. There seemed to be limitless amounts of depth in the attack moves, grappling holds, reversals, and counters. And if you've ever seen it in the square-circle, chances are it's in Wrestlemania. Even more amazing is how it's all filtered through an incredibly simple and easily grasped control scheme.

Also noteworthy is the create-a-player feature. Many critics have stated that it's nowhere as comprehensive as the ones found in its competitors, but I totally disagree. I liked the options as far as physical appearance goes, but where Wrestlemania really shines is in the level of control players are given in customizing a personal arsenal of wrestling maneuvers. The game offers up literally hundreds of various plexes, drivers, and locks. There's even an endless load of taunts and ring entrance possibilities to choose from. A nice variety of modes (also extensively customizable) are available in Wrestlemania and while I wasn't overly impressed with its by-the-numbers "Road to Wrestlemania" career mode, there're still plenty of enjoyment to be had in the King of the Ring, Royal Rumble, and Steel Cage match venues.

Even with its incredibly well balanced gameplay and its heaps of personalization, what Wrestlemania excels at best is capturing the oh-so controversial WWF 'attitude'. The developers have managed to instill WWF's polygon counterparts with the sexually charged and morally depraved trademark style that has made it the bane of the conservative public eye. Expect all the middle-fingering, penile posturing, ass-mooning, low-blowing, and T&A showcasing that has thrust the WWF back into the hearts of children and in the minds of adults. Whether you personally find the content offensive or not, you have to admire Aki for recreating it so well and all the while creating an infinitely playable videogame. Rating: 9 out of 10

Chi Kong Lui

Chi Kong Lui

In the 1980s, Chi grew up in small town on the outskirts of New York City called Jackson Heights. Latino actor, John Leguizamo referred to the town as the "melting pot of the world," and while living there, Chi was exposed to many diverse cultures, as well as a bevy of arcade classics such as Pac-Man, Space Ace, Space Harrier and Double Dragon. Chi's love of videogames only seemed to grow as his parents finally caved and bought him an 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System (after being the only kid in the block without one). In the 1990s, Chi finagled his way into the prestigious Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School for the Performing Arts.

Somewhere between all the gaming, Chi some how managed to finish high school and get into the New York Institute of Technology. At the same time, Chi also interned at Virtual Frontiers, an Internet software consultancy where he learned the ways of HTML. Soon after acquiring his BFA, Chi went on to become the lead Web designer of the Anti-Defamation League. During his tenure there, Chi was instrumental in redesigning and relaunching the non-profit organization's Web site.

Today, Chi is the webmaster of the American Red Cross in Greater New York and somehow managed to work through the tragic events of September 11th without losing his sanity. Chi considers GameCritics.com his life's work and continues to be amazed that the web site is still standing after the recent dotcom fallout. It is his dream that GameCritics.com will accomplish two things: 1) Redefine the grammar of videogames much the same way French film critic Andre Bazin did for the art of cinema and 2) bring game criticism to the forefront of mainstream culture much the same way Siskel & Ebert did for film criticism.
Chi Kong Lui

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