Unless you've been lying under a rock for the past 2 years, you've noticed the huge resurgence of professional wrestling. It's emerged from its deathbed and has almost taken over TV. It's on-air almost every night and draws young boys and immature men away the real world and into their own fantastical, wrestling one. Vulgar language and violence seems to be just what these guys are looking for in primetime entertainment. Occasional nudity and the exploitation of women and minorities is just another plus in their book. And no matter what the family groups and moralists say or do, wrestling's popularity has only grown. Logically, it is to no one's surprise that wrestling video games have followed suit and are arriving at an alarming rate, with WWF Attitude being the latest. The marriage of these two (video gaming and wrestling) is one made in heaven. Both are flashy, noisy, and violent. And both are beyond the comprehension of parents and have notoriously been blamed for the apparent decay of society.
I'll start off by saying that graphically, Attitude is top notch. Iguana West has milked its 'skins' technology to its fullest here on the Nintendo 64. With skins, the developer can cover the jagged edges prevalent in all other 3D games with pseudo skins; the result is a smooth and detailed body for the characters that sometimes even fooled me into thinking I was looking at the real thing. It gives the characters in this game a refined look that compares with the graphics on the latest next generation system, the Sega Dreamcast. Yes, the character models are THAT good and one look at the detailed, facial texturing that Iguana West has thrown into the game and you'd have to agree.
Acclaim was obviously thrilled by, and put to use, the positive feedback they got about the numerous features of other sports titles (such as the create-a-player options). Hey, I liked them too but I think that IW, in this case, has gone a bit overboard. There are Steel-Cage matches, Lumberjack matches, Handicap matches, Royal Rumbles, King of the Ring bouts, and even the opportunity to create your own Pay-Per-View event. It seems that every conceivable kind of wrestling match, no matter how bizarre, has made it onto this 32MB cart. Create-a-player in Attitude is unlike anything before. It's now possible to create a whole new wrestler who can be as much like you as you want, or as bizarre as your mind can possibly imagine. All the hardcore fans should be thrilled.
The problem with Attitude is that Acclaim has taken the 'sport' a lot more seriously than it deserves to be. In their attempt to provide a realistic simulation of the whole wrestling industry, Acclaim has forgotten that this is just a game of pummeling your opponent. A more casual fan like me wants to pick my character and just go at it for the championship or go for a quick head-to-head matchup. I don't care about every little detail and being forced to memorize 15 or more control-schemes for each character is a joke. I also had more luck pushing buttons randomly than I did actually and intentionally trying to pull off moves by memory because the control scheme is annoyingly slow. Let me tell you that watching the computer opponent get the upper hand even after doing everything right was more than a bit disheartening.
Come to think of it, the entire game is slow. The pacing is just ridiculous and almost put me to sleep. Whether I was moving around the ring, pulling off moves, or just turning around, it was like watching a game in slow motion. A game's extreme slow pace hampers the excitement and makes it frustrating to play. It's a shame because the authentic look of the wrestlers is ultimately betrayed by the unauthentic and sluggish manner of the game mechanics. My final beef is with the general look of the game. Everything besides the wrestlers looks plain. The ring looks as two-dimensional as the crowds in the background. Sure they get loud and creative in their cheering and they are in even greater detail than they were in last year's edition, WWF Warzone, but the crowd's simplistic look is inexcusable. And the areas that the matches take place in contain so much black space and monotone texture that Attitude often takes on the look of a first-generation title and not the graphical milestone that it should be.
When it comes down to it, a wrestling game can copy the 'sport' even without the over-the-top antics of the real thing. But it doesn't have the luxury of distraction; I'm referring to the flashy pyrotechnics, the ever-changing storylines, and crazy personalities of the wrestlers that gives wrestling its bigger than life appearance. Attitude is a video game so it requires that you play it, which means that interaction must be good, otherwise the many shortcomings of the 'sport' comes glaringly to light. What was once entertaining gets quickly reduced to two hulking, ex-football players throwing each other around a ring for 10 minutes. Attitude tries to hide this with some flash, but more so with options and features and where the game really lags is in the most crucial area of all, interaction. And that leaves this one down for the count.
Disclaimer: This review is based on the Nintendo 64 version of the game.
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