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WWF Raw is War (Xbox) Review

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WWF Raw is War for the Xbox has been a long awaited game for WWF gamers everywhere. Ever since last year's E3, where news started to leak out regarding THQ's game, fans have scapped for any new info or screen shot. Sadly though, the game is rather disappointing in many aspects.

Presentation/Graphics : 83
The graphics for WWF Raw is War are done very well, especially the wrestlers' intros. In fact, the intros are the best I've seen in a wrestling game. In addition, you are able to view just the Titantron during the intro by press the button X. The height differences between individual wrestlers are very realistic and apparent. One can immediately see how the Big Show towers over Kurt Angle. Also, the double feature as seen on TV is a nice touch showing a replay of a nice move. The frame rates don't slow down during the matches, even with the max of 6 wrestlers on the screen at once. The crowd graphics aren't too shabby. They are 3-D and not just cardboard cutouts.

With the good, must come the bad. Well, the camera angles could have been worked on before the game was shipped out. I don't know how the Q&A guys could miss a big poster blocking the view of the ring. Maybe in the next edition of the game, we will be able to choose the view that we like best. Another negative part of the game is the collision detail. Sometimes wrestlers appear as if they are going right through one another. Other times, you can see two wrestlers blended together along with a ladder. Also, the camera flashes from the crowd are a little too bright. They start to get really disturbing after constant flashes.

Presentation/Audio : 75
Wrestling games such as WWF Wrestlemania 2000 and WWF No Mercy prove that commentary is not a necessity for a good wrestling game. WWF Raw is War has absolutely no commentary or play-by-play. The only sounds you hear during the matches are music and the sound effects. The sound effects are done to a satisfactory point. Just nothing special. No dialogue or any conversations from the wrestlers.

Interface/Options : 60
The game modes on WWF Raw include: Title Match, Exhibition, King of the Ring, Create-a-Superstar, and Museum. Types of matches include: Singles, Tag-Team, Fatal Four Way, Triple Threat, 4 Player Battle Royal and Handicap for 2-on-1, and 3-on-1. Belts included in the game are: WWF Championship, Intercontinental, European, Hardcore, Light Heavyweight, Women.

For some reason, THQ decided to leave out an option that allows you to save your title belt runs. They expect you to play through all of the required matches as well as the title belt match. I guess the people at THQ expect us to only be focused on WWF Raw and nothing in the world. It simply sucks to get through 7 matches then have to quit because something came up. In the King of the Ring mode, you aren't even able to sim the matches without having to start and then quit the matches.

Create a Wrestler gives you a good number of options and ways to customize your wrestler, although it might be a little too customizable. You can choose what the right thigh and what the left thigh looks like. It looks really odd to have a guy with different sized thighs. But besides that, all the available options are great. Maybe it would have been nice to have a little more variable facial differences.

The controls also are poorly designed. Pin and taunt are the same buttons. There were a number of times where I try to just taunt after I get an opponent down but instead accidentally try to pin. Also, B is used to go in and out of the ring. Well guess what, button B is the same button for taunts. So sometimes I'm outside the ropes on top of the ring trying to get back in but instead I start taunting. Next thing I know, I learn on the ground after getting knocked down. You are able to assign the black and white buttons to special and catch though since those two buttons aren't used with the default configuration.

Gameplay : 50
Be warned, the AI is horrible. I was appalled in one tag-team match where I was facing the Dudleys. The match was going along fine till both my wrestlers got tossed outside the ring. The Dudleys started attacking each other. This didn't just happen once in the match, but on a few occasions. I also experienced another flaw in the AI while trying to pin the CPU. My teammate just casually walked by and let me get pinned. This didn't happen too much but it did occur. The tag team AI definitely needs some work. In addition to what I mentioned, during tornado type tag matches, it always felt like two separate 1-on-1 matches going on in the ring.

The AI for single player also needs to be fixed. For instance, one time with Stone Cold on the top ropes, the Rock started walking at me slowly. I just hit one of my buttons and down went the Rock. I went back to the top with Stone Cold and the same thing happened. I know some wrestlers in the WWF might seem stupid, but not many of them walk toward someone on the top rope. Also, for some reason, the CPU doesn't like to stay outside the ring or venture too far outside the ring. I tried to get my opponent near the entrance by the Titantron, but the only thing my opponent did was run at me, get half way, chicken out, and run back to the ring. Waited a few seconds, ran toward me but ran back. This happens a lot.

The interference feature is nice, but eventually gets old. Wrestlers come out and interfere in the match for a short bit, then go stand outside. Eventually they get bored and sometimes start pounding themselves. You are also able to interfere during an entrance by just pressing the button Y. The setback here is that you have no control of whether or not the attack will be initially successful.

The game doesn't make you feel like you are performing the moves on your own. Seems all computer-controlled. To prove this point, I grabbed my tag-team opponent and had him in a grapple. I couldn't do anything. I tried pressing buttons and even just whipping him to the ropes. No luck. In addition, you have no control of reversals at all.

Wrestlers' finishers are mostly in the game. You have to wait till your opponent is groggy and your crowd meter is flashing. However, getting your opponent to stay down after a finisher is another thing. It can take quite a few finishing moves to get the CPU to stay down. Also, some moves performed near the ropes allow for the wrestlers to send another wrestler flying over the ropes onto the ringside.

Also, the game features a ton of weapons. My favorites include the ladder and table. I've read stories about people being able to break tables, but I have yet to do so. You aren't able to climb on top of either the ladder or the table. In addition, the long aisle along with the ramps on the side in WWF Raw is War is a good touch.

A great feature in WWF Raw is War is the stamina bar. Depending on your wrestler, each attack exerts energy from a wrestler. For instance, with Kurt Angle, my stamina bar hardly ever got low, but with the Big Show, after a few kicks and punches, he would be crouching over because he was tired. While I did mention that the AI is rather moronic, it is still tough to win matches. This could be a result of the crowd meter, which determines when you can do specials.

Replay Value : 50
Replay value? What replay value? No career mode at all. The closest thing in the game would be the Title Match mode. You fight 5-12 or so matches depending on which belt you choose to try to win. Going through the matches gets a bit repetitive. The feeling occurs because the game is not a good single player game at all. Regardless of what you find on the net, there are no cheats to unlock a career mode or the backstage.

Overall : 65
WWF Raw is War is rather a disappointing game. While it probably isn't considered a "stay away completely from" game, it's definitely not a must-buy game. I suggest renting the game for a few days if you are really itching for a wrestling game for the Xbox. That should be more than enough time with the game. Multiplayer is a bit more enjoyable than just playing the game yourself since you don't have to deal with the moronic AI.

By: James Chheng 2/18/02



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