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   Wed, April 23, 2008



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SCOREBOARD
PHOTO GALLERY
VIDEO GALLERY
COMMENT





A look at the upcoming TNA video game
By BOB KAPUR - SLAM! Wrestling




LAS VEGAS -- TNA Wrestling fans have seen the company hit new heights in the past couple of years. But in September, the company reaches entirely new platforms -- namely, gaming platforms -- with the release of the company's first video game.

SLAM! Wrestling had the chance to preview the game last week at a media event hosted by TNA's partner in this initiative, Midway Games. Based on what was seen, a new champion in the video game market may be crowned when the game hits the shelves.

The TNA Impact! game was a centerpiece of the Midway event, which featured appearances by many of TNA's stars, including A.J. Styles, the Motor City Machineguns, X Division champion 'Black Machismo' Jay Lethal, and TNA champion Samoa Joe. They all appeared at the main media presentation, which was highlighted by a lengthy preview video.

Visually, the game is stellar, with many of TNA's stars being faithfully recreated in terms of face, body, and wardrobe, albeit in pixellated form. As is customary for wrestling video games, each wrestler's entrance is duplicated flawlessly down to the smallest detail, including the entrance music, the lighting, and even the wrestler's signature entrance poses.

All of this would not have been possible if this weren't a truly collaborative effort between Midway and TNA, said the game's creative director Sal Dizica.

"We're super happy teaming up with TNA," he told SLAM! Wrestling while engaged in a friendly on-screen battle. "They've been phenomenal to work with, they've contributed so much. Any time we've needed anything from them, they've come over at the drop of a hat. Motion capture, voiceovers, work on the storyline, moves, anything. All of that partnering only makes the game look and feel that much more authentic."

That authenticity also extends to the moves that the wrestlers can execute. The video showed various wrestlers delivering their trademark moves, which is a necessity for any game of this type.

"At some level, all of the wrestlers share a commonality in moveset," explained Dizica. "But there are also different moves that can be performed by wrestlers of different styles -- there are three styles in the game: the high flyer, or what we call the acrobat style; the grappler, which is the technical wrestler; and the brawler, which is the big bashing wrestler, like Abyss. And each character has other unique moves that fit in with their style. Again, it's about making the playing experience as close to the real product as it can be."


A screenshot of Jay Lethal and Eric Young in an Ultimate X match.
Also a necessity in this regard is a variety of innovative match styles, and this game shouldn't disappoint, based on the buzz heard over the shots of the Ultimate X match. Many of the video game pundits who had never seen this type of match were intrigued by this match, and during the playing session that followed the presentation, most were selecting this option.

"We also have weapons matches, a Monsters Ball match, tag team matches, free-for-all matches, lots of different styles," boasted Dizica. "We don't have six sides of steel in there yet, but you never know what we may come up with. Where a platform allows for downloadable content, that's something that can be taken advantage of at some point in the future."

The game is fairly easy to play, and even novices shouldn't have too much trouble in picking up the controls and delivering a beating on their hapless opponents. It's not necessary to memorize difficult button and controller sequences; rather, moves can be performed by simply hitting a single button (some of the gaming experts compared the playability of TNA Impact! to that of a previous game, WWE No Mercy).

"The ability for a novice to 'pick up and play' the game is part of the whole philosophy of Midway," he said. "The best thing about this game is the combat, the fighting and responding to what your opponent is doing to you. It's not like some games where, after you get hit, you're waiting for your opponent to hit some long move that you can't break out of, which is very frustrating."

"Our game is more about responsive game play. In our game, when you press a button, something happens. When you get knocked down, you have the chance to get up very quickly. We're focused on fast action combat."

Though the preview session wasn't without its glitches -- the game is still under development, so not all of the characters or match types were available to be played -- Dizica promised that the final product will be worth the wait.

"I'm responsible for putting the game together," he explained. "That means putting together the moves, the style, everything. Working with TNA on the storyline to create something really compelling. Overall, I'm responsible for making the vision come true. I'm confident that the final product will be everything that a TNA Wrestling fan would want. I think it's going to be a great marriage between wrestling and a video game. I'm very excited about it."

Based on the reactions by the video game community in attendance at the Midway event, he's not the only one.

OTHER NOTES

TNA Impact! the video game from Midway Games is scheduled for release in September for the PS2, PS3, X-Box Live and the Wii platforms.

Stars confirmed to be in the game are: Samoa Joe, AJ Styles, Chris Sabin, Alex Shelley, Eric Young, Jay Lethal, Christian Cage, Abyss, Rhino, Kurt Angle, Sting, LAX, Scott Steiner, Christopher Daniels, and Booker T. More characters will follow, including some secret unlockable characters.

RELATED LINKS

  • TNA's resident gamers pumped for TNA Impact!'s release
  • Photo Gallery: TNA Impact! video game preview
  • Past SLAM! Wrestling video game stories and reviews

    Bob Kapur challenges any SLAM! Wrestling reader to a Q-Bert competition. Accept him if you dare, at bobkapur@hotmail.com.