WWE WrestleMania XIX review


Last year's Wrestlemania X8 was like a midcard draw compared to THQ's top-flight Nintendo 64 WWE contenders of old. Thankfully, XIX enters the ring with a host of improvements. The control setup hearkens back to the classics (like No Mercy), but with a larger selection of moves and a new emphasis on counters/reversals that allows for some rewarding comebacks. Plus, being able to attack specific body parts adds much-needed strategy, and speedy pacing nixes the drawn-out, boring matches that plague most wrasslin' games. XIX also addresses its forerunner's biggest weakness: the painfully limited Create-a-Superstar mode. This year, the developers wisely offer detailed facial and body customization, allowing twisted gamers to design downright frightening wrestlers. Although the visuals aren't quite up to Raw 2 (Xbox) standards, the charactes and environments look impressive nonetheless. Yet, the single-player modes hold XIX back from being the ultimate grappler. King of the Ring (where you vie for championship belts) is nothing more than a generic tournament setting devoid of story elements. And Revenge (in which battles take place at outside-the-ring venues) turns what's supposed to be a wrestling game into an irritating 3D beat-em up. Still, there are enough changes in this edition for me to label XIX the top GC wrestler to date. But it needs another year before the series reaches main event status. I still think that this game should just improve on a bit more things.

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