TNA Impact! succeeds where many other wrestling games cut corners, providing a decent experience for fans of the TV show. However, the apparent lack of content hurts the overall package. Moreover, TNA Impact!'s obvious cut-and-paste in-ring combat system won't impress anyone who's played a wrestling game in the past five years.
Looking back on the past few days, I really wanted to like Midway's TNA Impact!. In a genre that's largely dominated by a certain company's yearly releases, TNA Impact! really had a chance to steal some thunder from its competitors. Unfortunately, all the effort that went into the game's graphics drastically crippled TNA Impact! everywhere else.
The main draw of TNA Impact! is undoubtedly the graphics. Each and every single wrestler looks remarkably like his real-life counterpart, right down to the skin pores. I only wish that the same attention to detail had gone into the horribly limited character creation system. TNA Impact! gives you only a few different pre-constructed skins and layers for each body part, and they all invariably look more or less the same. What's the point of having 20 similar kinds of ears, but only three different body types?
Still, I was more than impressed with the wrestling animations. Every wrestler has a certain weight to them, and most of the grappling is fluid and natural. That being said, every wrestler has, in essence, the same move set, which does nothing to stave off the tedium from an overly long story mode. In one of the most ridiculous plot lines I've heard yet, you assume the role of hotshot wrestler "Suicide", who is ambushed, kidnapped, and shipped to Mexico by some jealous rivals. Oh, and your character conveniently develops amnesia in the first act, which I assume prevents any phone calls to the police.
Where's the beef?
One of the first things you'll notice about TNA Impact! is that when you start the game, everything's locked. EVERYTHING. Wrestlers, arenas, and even the basic moves are under lock and key until you complete certain events in the story mode. This makes the first few hours of the game frustrating, since Midway's fascination with unlockables in effect takes away any incentive to explore TNA Impact! past the exhibition mode. Any good wrestling game gives you variety at the start, but TNA Impact! instead forces you to plod though boring match after boring match first.
If you're going to play this game, I don't recommend doing it alone. TNA Impact! is actually pretty fun when you're button mashing against another player, especially in tag matches. Leaving any of the combat up to the AI is about as effective as choosing a wooden plank for your teammate. I couldn't count how many times I was getting my ass handed to me in the six-sided ring while my AI partner watched with mild indifference.
Not a contender
TNA Impact! can be fun if you've been longing to play a match with Christian Cage or Samoa Joe, but don't expect to enjoy anything but a quick exhibition round. If you own any wrestling game from the last five years, I can almost guarantee it'll have more match types, story lines, and custom moves than this one.
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