For a long time THQ has had really no competition for its WWE titles that have hit almost every gaming platform imaginable for years now. Sure there have been a few small blips of competition, but nothing overly serious, until now. Midway has teamed up with the TNA, Total Nonstop Action Wrestling to bring the first real competitor to the Xbox 360. So does Midway manage to bring in the TNA’s attitude and over the top action and make a great wrestling game, or does THQ and its WWE games still have top billing? Read our full review to find out!
So we know that Midway has put a lot of money, marketing, and development time behind this game. As a member of the press I receive press releases from all of the big game publishers and there were weekly updates on TNA iMPACT! for months before the eventual release of the game. You got the picture far before the release that Midway was throwing a lot at this title, but did it all pan out.
Well let’s first just start talking about the wrestling itself which is quite different then the WWE titles. You still have your typical kick and punch buttons and then you have both strong and light grapples. The grappling system keeps things a lot simpler then other wrestling games, and this is both a huge plus and a huge drawback. What happens with a simple grappling system is that you need a pretty extensive move set that differentiates the many characters in the game, well TNA iMPACT! doesn’t do a great job of giving variety.
The countering system goes right along with the simplistic style gameplay and just has users hit one button to counter. The real trick to the countering system is timing, but as you continue through the game the timing becomes easier and easier and countering seems to come to be a bit to frequent. Countering to me in a wrestling game should be a once in a while occurrence that can help to change the dynamic of the match, but when there is a counter, after a counter, after a counter it just becomes to big of a part of the game.
The gameplay really is pretty solid overall though, I wasn’t overly happy with the countering system and there wasn’t enough differential between wrestlers but the gameplay still had a nice change of pace from the WWE franchise. So the wrestling does get the job done but what about the modes? Well the main mode in the game is the Story mode which has a rather weird story but once again gets the job done. I won’t give it away as Midway has done a great job of making it unknown up until the games release so I will leave it to you to check it out. With that being said I will comment on the story by saying that it is rather far fetched even for a wrestling game. The story is really just a way to string matches together and after the initial scratching of the head, the story actually improves quite a bit and you actually might gain some interest in what is going on. The story mode works, its a bit bland and repetitive, but once again it works.
That is really the motto for all of the gameplay in TNA iMPACT! it all works, but it all doesn’t go all that far beyond that point. There aren’t a ton of different gameplay modes, and outside of online play there really isn’t all that much else exciting to talk about. TNA iMPACT! preforms moderately well online, I hit some lag issues, and there are some kind of annoying quirks that happen online as well where the countering system becomes an issue again. Online play is a nice addition to the game and works but I just never felt like it handled all that well online.
Visually TNA iMPACT! is extremely solid, especially in the animation sector. One area I was actually a bit skeptical is animation, the WWE franchise has always had some issues with animation and Midway seemed to do a solid job with its limited move set of having some great animations. The wrestler models are solid, and for those who want to see the wrestlers in HD glory, Midway does have some serious detail on all of the wrestlers character models. Not a perfect visual outing, but for a first effort, TNA iMPACT! is a really good looking game.
I am a bit on the fence with TNA iMPACT! I was never sure if I was really enjoying my time with the game or not. After several hours of gameplay I have to say that I really needed more meat on the bone to completely wet my appetite. Getting to play with some of my old favorite wrestlers like Sting was a treat, its just a shame there wasn’t more variety in both the match types and move sets which really hurts the longevity of the game.
TNA iMPACT! is a very successful first outing for Midway, its not perfect, and it may not be able to compete with WWE on its first outing, but for its first outing it does so many things right that if your a fan of wrestling games I would still recommend this game even with its short comings.
The owner and editor-in-chief of Darkstation.com. I've been apart of the website since 2002 and purchased the website in 2010. Owning and running Darkstation is a dream come true. I love video games and I love writing and talking about them even more.