Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Total Extreme Wrestling 2007 Review

Total Extreme Wrestling 2007, developed and published by Grey Dog Software.
The Good: Exceedingly comprehensive wrestling promotion simulation with the ability to customize and adjust almost everything
The Not So Good: Cumbersome user interface will discourage casual players
What say you? If you’ve ever wanted to run a wrestling promotion, this is as close as you’re going to get: 6/8

Chances are, you won’t get a chance to run your own sport. While aspiring to be an owner of a football team is an admirable life goal, the probability of that happening is slim to none. Luckily for you, there are sports management games that let you control a team or sport of your choice for a much smaller investment than running a real franchise. In Total Extreme Wrestling 2007, you manage (surprise!) a wrestling company in a fictional wrestling world. This is the same world that was present in Wrestling Spirit 2, so those familiar with that game will see familiar promotions and wrestlers. I did not particularly care for Wrestling Spirit 2 (due to the dull matches), but the number of options in the title was outstanding. This amount of detail, it would seem, would lend itself better to managing an entire promotion rather than an individual wrestler. Let’s see if this proves to be true.

Being a text-based simulation, Total Extreme Wrestling 2007 features text and menus. The game is certainly not the best looking text simulation, but those familiar with the series will be able to navigate the game well. The game does have an rendered portrait for each wrester and logos for all of the promotions, but this is really the limit of graphical flair in the game. The main problem with Total Extreme Wrestling 2007 is the user interface: it is extremely difficult to find specific data and execute certain actions. The game uses overlying windows, which makes navigating between different open windows (like booking a match and the roster of wrestlers) impossible. I would much rather have the game divided up into several sections and always display a sortable roster, as this is your main concern. A lot of the data can be accessed multiple ways, but it takes a while to learn how to get to everything you need to open in the game. I think the user interface needs to be modernized and changed for the next release of the game, as Total Extreme Wrestling 2007 is not too inviting for management simulation novices. As for the sound, there is a song in the opening menu and that’s it. Total Extreme Wrestling 2007 is becoming outdated in its user interface and sound, even for a text-based simulation.

While the graphics and sound aren’t that great, the rest of the game is very detailed, almost overwhelmingly so. To start, you’ll need to develop a character to either be the primary booker or the owner of a company and set your initial stats, which are important if you’d like to be a owner and wrestler. You can set all sorts of ratings and you aren’t limited in your choices, so you can make yourself be an unrealistically good (or bad) wrestler. Thankfully, all of the over 1,000 wrestlers in the game have already been coded, so unless you are completely insane, you don’t have to set or change their ratings. There are a good number of promotions to choose from, ranging from small regional operations to large national tours. Unless you choose free play, you’ll be given realistic goals by the owner to achieve in the upcoming year. Your time will be divided between managing and hiring wrestlers, coming up with cards for events, and all of the other ancillary things that come with running a promotion. First, you’ll need to set the style of your promotion, such as “old school,” Lucha Libre, sports entertainment, or others. Each setting will determine the kinds of matches and wrestlers your fans will expect and demand. The size of your promotion is determined primarily by its popularity, as certain regional operations will never become popular in other parts of the country. You can also schedule how often events are held and whether they are on TV or pay-per-view.

About half of your time will be spent managing wrestlers (the other half coming up with event schedules). Each wrestler on your roster is assigned a push (main event to opening) and a turn (good (face) or bad (heel)). You can also allocate a manager (good for storylines) and a gimmick: Total Extreme Wrestling 2007 includes pretty much every gimmick ever used. Playing to your wrestler’s strengths is important in setting all of these options. The game can suggest appropriate settings for pushes, which makes starting a new promotion less of a guessing game. Total Extreme Wrestling 2007 also comes with all of the extras you need to run an interesting promotion: brand splits, titles, teams, stables, and storylines. Creating storylines is very important in making the fans interested in your matches. Naturally, you’ll want to periodically add wrestlers from other promotions (or free agents) in order to improve your roster. Since there are over 1,000 wrestlers in the game that exist all over the world, Total Extreme Wrestling 2007 lets you filter results according to regional popularity, availability, and ratings in each of the game’s areas. The filters reset after you exit that particular screen, which tends to annoy. You will also want to show your product on TV and on pay-per-views; all of the contracts can be set and negotiated in order to rake in the money. An interesting addition is the Internet, where you can go and read what happened in the wrestling world the previous night. This is a cool feature than lends an air of realism to your promotion.

After spending all of that time promoting your company, adjusting the roster, setting pushes and turns, it’s time for some wrestling. You will need to balance your schedule between angles and matches; more sports entertainment oriented promotion will spend more time on angles, while more classic promotions will emphasize matches. Depending on the length of your show, you will have a set amount of time in which to book all of your matches. All of the matches are automatically resolved with no special graphics or videos to watch, but I didn’t really mind this. Total Extreme Wrestling 2007 features a treasure trove of match types, from hardcore to tables to cage to submission. Select some wrestlers (hopefully ones that are compatible with ongoing storylines and each other), the match length, the referee, and the results (and causes) you desire. The different angles you can present during the show are numerous as well: love triangles, adultery, rescues, taunts, challenges, and plenty of others can be implemented to justify your matches. It’s really impressive the level of detail you can use in the game. Of course, the downside is that it requires some effort to play the game, but Total Extreme Wrestling 2007 isn’t that overwhelming to play, especially if you’re experienced in the genre.

While Total Extreme Wrestling 2007 doesn’t have the flashiness or simplicity required for a large audience, people wanting a detailed wrestling promotion simulation game will find lots to enjoy here. The level of detail in the game is fantastic: from the over 1,000 detailed wrestlers (each with their own backstory) to the numerous angles and match types, all of the tools that the big boys use are at your disposal. You can cultivate literally any type of promotion you can think of, in addition to editing any of the stats in the game to reflect real-world conditions. You almost feel like a real promoter, and the satisfaction of watching a well-promoted match turn into a crowd pleaser is very rewarding. The numerous promotions in the game lets you set a difficulty setting of sorts, as smaller, regional operations are easier to handle. The depth of the game will keep interested players going to quite a long time, growing their operation into a successful venture. Total Extreme Wrestling 2007 certainly does not have a pick-up-and-play mentality, but if you are willing to invest some time into it, you’ll find a tremendously deep simulation perfect for fans of the genre.