TNA iMPACT! (Wii) - Review by Chris



Over the years that wrestling titles have been getting made on consoles, there's really only been one stalwart in terms of the sport and the genre of games. While there have been other titles that have come along to take a stab at the market, THQ's Smackdown series has been the top dog and remained relatively unchallenged since its debut. But that looks set to change as Midway brings the increasingly popular Total Non-stop Action Wrestling to the home consoles and hopes to tap into THQ's market share, using big name wrestlers, such as Kurt Angle and Booker T, to bring in the gamers.


Unlike the Smackdown titles, TNA and Midway hope to offer up a more action oriented style of gameplay yet simplifications to the controls and the modes available to play through mean that it doesn't quite reach this mantel. Upon loading up the game, you'd be forgiven for thinking that Midway had skimped on the modes for the Wii version yet the overall game on all platforms seems to be missing key ingredients that Midway will hope to rectify for further entries into the series down the line. But what is presented with the game is everything you'd expect to find. There is a competent exhibition modes, where you can choose from one of nine available match types, from tag team to submission to the TNA exclusive match type of Ultimate X which is very similar to the ladder matches from the WWE except without the ladders, and it'll provide many with just the right amount of action they could want from a wrestling title. It's also the main mode for multiplayer, with 2 players being able to fight it out in the hexagonal ring. It seems like a shortcoming though as the ability to allow up to 4 players to go at it, especially in tag team matches, would have been an excellent inclusion to the game and would have pushed it that bit further in the fun stakes.

While the exhibition mode provides an ample amount of entertainment, even in single player, the AI of your opponents isn't particularly great and never really troubling. There's no real difficulty and when you push up the difficulty level, it just leads to frustration as every one of your attacks is constantly reversed meaning you'll quickly quit. But luckily, there is a story mode to play through, and here you're put in control of wrestler Suicide who disobeys the orders of the chairman of the show and gets beaten up and ditched in Tijuana. From here on out, you have to slowly but surely progress through exhibition matches to make your way back into the TNA fold and eventually going on to the main event match up for a title shot. It's not a particularly exciting plotline and the mode is made even worse by the omissions. On the other console versions, after your surgery in Tijuana, you get to create the wrestler who you'll be using the climb the ranks but on the Wii, no such luck as you're given a stock wrestler boasting similarities to the real Suicide. And again, the story mode quickly leads to frustration as the AI, both for your opponents and your tag partners, isn't up to scratch and you'll find yourself screaming at the TV because of their uselessness. Yet, if you want to unlock the entire roster, comprising of 25 male wrestlers from Kurt Angle to Sting to Scott Steiner, and arena list, you'll have to play through the story.

Besides these two modes, there's little else to play through. There is a TNA extras mode where you can watch training videos presented by the wrestlers on how to play out aspects of the game but the move sets for the characters is so limited and shared across all, that you really won't need any training to specialise and get used to certain wrestlers.


Wrestling games aren't ideal to be played with the Wii-mote and Nunchuk, especially when motions are involved. Yet Midway has included it here and it doesn't work well. Attack placement on the face buttons seems contrived and out of place, making you stretch all over the controls just to hit the buttons. Due to the simple nature of the action, the controls should have reflected that and in some ways it does with your main attacks taking place courtesy of the Wii-motes A and B buttons, used for punching and kicking respectively. Yet, grabs have to be pulled off using a swing of the controller and it feels unnatural and unresponsive. The D-pad also gets pulled into the fray as you have to use it to counter, block and even pin your opponent down for the count and the whole experience would have been a complete put off if it wasn't for the fact that you can use the classic controller, which is so much easier to play with and I recommend over the other set up, but it just seems strange that the basic controls for the Wii-mote and Nunchuk combo are so out and just shows how rushed Midway were in getting the game out.


The overall graphical presentation is good, although the Wii version only boasts a slight improvement over its Playstation 2 counterpart. Character models are a mixed bunch. While they show great likeness to the real life wrestlers they do suffer from a lack of polygons and texture work and so they do look rather mediocre at some points. Yet their animation is spot on and incredibly fluid, allowing for realistic movement between the moves and when chaining together attacks. It's probably one of the biggest points for the game and really just some general touching up on the characters would make it that bit better, to get rid of the jagged edges surrounding them. Arenas are of a decent scale yet when it comes down to the actual fighting, the camera focuses almost solely on the ring and never moves so you don't get to see much of it outside of the wrestlers' entrances.


The game is accompanied by an applicable rock based sound track, typical of the genre of games. Yet, it's never particularly memorable in the way that the themes from THQ's games are. But that's not a real problem. The entirety of the story mode is voiced by all of the characters you'll meet which is a nice touch and it's done to a good standard and while there is commentary, the match will mostly remain silent and then suddenly you'll have an inane statement or remark made by the commentator which just doesn't sit with the game and makes it look jaded in respect to the fluidity of the commentary on the Smackdown titles.

Final comments

Taking on the might of THQ's stalwart wrestling title is by no means an easy task and while Midway have managed to get some things right, such as the character animation and the exhibition mode, there are still quite a lot of shortcomings that really need to be addressed for subsequent releases in the series. It's by no means a terrible title but it's also no match for the Smackdown games and comes nowhere near to the greatest achieved with No Mercy on the N64, which still stands as the pinnacle of the genre. There's a base here to build upon so let's hope that Midway, should they make it through their current troubles, take their time on the next one and don't rush it otherwise it'll just turn out like this one.

Pro: Character animation is realistic, exhibition mode has all the match types you'd want
Con: Some graphical drawbacks, every wrestler plays exactly the same, severe lack of content
Final score: 5.4


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Boxart of TNA iMPACT! (Wii)
Platform: Wii
Genre: Sports
Developer: Havok
Publisher: Midway