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WWE WrestleMania 21 Review

Developer: Studio Gigante Publisher: THQ
Release Date: April 20, 2005 Also On: None

Out of the two wrestling games that I have sampled on the Xbox, Raw 1 and 2, neither have really shown anything extraordinary. Wrestling games in general haven’t really been that great ever since WWF Attitude on the N64 and PS1. Wrestlemania 21, though a tad better in some ways compared to the Raw games, still doesn’t hack it when it comes to being a good simulation of the squared circle. The games, like the WWE, is now losing its flair and spiraling into a pit of despair.

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Wrestlemania 21 does deliver somewhat visually. The arenas during the intros and gameplay really bring the feeling of a live WWE telecast. Using actual intros for the virtual superstars, animation is near flawless other than the clipping that occurs when walking between the ropes. During cutscenes are the only time when Wrestlemania show any strong points visually. The framerate chugs during gameplay all the time and there are severe loading issues when the match ends and even in the menu screens. For a rather good looking game, it is a shame it has such stupid problems as framerate and loading issues.

As in any wrestling title, you can expect to find dated music licenses. Wrestlemania doesn’t disappoint you there, but putting them to the outstanding intros truly makes up for it. Voice acting was placed into the career mode, but done very poorly even though they used the actual superstars’ voice talents. There are too many tiresome quotes and attitudes that will annoy rather than entertain. Not to mention that there is only a few superstars in the game who actually lend their voices to the final product which kills the career mode. Menial sound effects through body slams, backbreakers, and chair shots don’t help either.

To be honest, Wrestlemania 21 probably plays the best out of the recent wrestling titles. That is, if you can get past the framerate problems. There are plenty of moves to choose from, but you only get to perform a small amount of them with one character. Moves are set ONLY to the 4 different directions, not taking use of combos or diagonal directions. While you have a possibility of possibly 40 moves, you only get 16. You will find yourself using the same moves over and over again for the most part. The poor framerate and loading issues greatly hinder fluid gameplay. The combo system is really confusing and difficult to use as well. While it sounds good, the poor framerate doesn’t allow it to work properly.

With the large variety of gametypes offered, becoming bored will not come easy. There are many of the fan favorite matches such as Hell in a Cell, Cage Match, TLC Match, Ladder Match, and the Bra and Panty Match. On top of these great match variants, there are still even more than that that can be tampered with at will to create tag and handicap matches.

The career mode allows you to take a created superstar through the WWE ranks in order to win the unified WWE title, both the WWE title on Smackdown and World Heavyweight Title on Raw. The career is too short though, almost like it takes no skill at all to reach those heights compared to Raw 1 and 2 which are much longer. You maybe have 20 matches and most are against the same opponents. Raw has years of matches that lead you to the title. Your rookie gets it in less than 6 months. Kind of sad if you ask me.

There are plenty of fan favorite wrestlers in Wrestlemania, but not nearly as many as offered in other games. Finding Triple H, John Cena, Undertaker, and Kurt Angle along with about less than 30 others is not a problem. But when most wrestling games now offer around 50 stars, 30 is really nothing. You can create a wrestler, but due to the poor loading in the menus, it takes forever. You can’t create a woman wrestler however which is a big letdown. Creating a title is fun, but nobody actually holds the title and it can be fought for by anyone, even if someone wins it in a match. Raw at least kept the holders of the titles. Basically, this is rather worthless for having at all. Time would have been better spent elsewhere.

Xbox Live play would be fun if you could find anyone actually playing it. The Live play has even more problems than offline. You can compete for titles against each other and gain prestige for them. A wrestling game with this many engine problems however shouldn’t be online. The lag is horrendous. You may find some fun in Wrestlemania 21, but you will find more in the now budget Raw titles, despite being equally as poor.

Graphics: 8
Sound: 4
Gameplay: 5
Creativity: 5
Replay Value/Game Length: 5
Final: 5.4
Written by Shawn Review Guide