WCW Mayhem – Sony Playstation – Electronic Arts – Sports – 1-2 Players

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Graphics: ** 1/2

Sound: ** 1/2

Control: ** 1/2

Gameplay: ***

Replay Value: **

Overall Rating: ** 1/2

        WCW action has come home again, this time with help from Electronic Arts. While a vast improvement of the previous games from THQ, Mayhem still has enough problems to warrant serious criticism.

        First, as you’d expect, most of your favorite WCW wrestlers are included here. The game starts you out with a couple and the rest can be unlocked in quest mode. The wrestlers all look like someone has dropped an anvil on them, and while they look very smooth while performing moves, they still look like uncoordinated jesters when trying to initiate a grapple or move around. Equally laughable is the horrible ring entrances, introduced by bad replicas of their entrance music, the wrestlers are greeted by some lame commentary by Mean Gene Okerlund and the worst fireworks display seen since the old Fireworks Construction kit on the Commodore 64. The ring announcing is equally bad, although we get the first string team of Bobby "The Brain" Heenan and Tony Schiavone, their comments are extremely repetitive and unbalanced. (One minute they say you’re great, the next they’re saying you should be back in the training school). Finally, the game is just too easy. Having set it on easy and medium, I’ve yet to lose a match. Lastly, despite the claim of 12 backstage areas, so far all I’ve seen is the same ticket office each time and all the backstage option offers is just a room with weapons that do additional damage. Big deal.

        That said and done, let’s look at what EA got right with Mayhem. First, opponents calling for help is no longer a hassle, because thankfully the R2 button switches your focus from one wrestler to another making it easy to deal with the current threat, and making multi-opponent games more enjoyable. The number of selectable match types is good, giving most of the options we see on TV from the standard match to a full battle royal. (Although I haven’t seen a cage match yet) The moves themselves are easy to pull off and finishing moves are made simple by having them become activated once the executing player has enough momentum going for him. That’s the part where EA captured the essence of wrestling, the new momentum meter allows for all those ridiculous comebacks that are part of wrestling, making the game more "realistic". Finally, the Pay Per View mode allows players to enter codes supplied by WCW to automatically create the wrestling cards at upcoming major events.

        All in all, Mayhem is a decent start for EA and the WCW license, but it’s a far cry from what a good wrestling game should be. In the end, only the most rabid wrestling fans should pick this one up, for the rest of us, a one weekend rental will do just fine.