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
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