As promised last week in our preview to the 1000th episode of Monday Night Raw, this week we’re looking at undoubtedly the worst wrestling game to grace this generation of consoles: TNA Impact. Impact was released in attempt to challenge the WWE’s monopoly of the wrestling genre in video games. Did they succeed? In short, no they did not. I had more fun playing PSOne games than what TNA and Midway presented in this abomination.

Let me quantify why Impact is a terrible game. I recently picked up a copy of “WWF Attitude” from a charity shop and found it to have a more extensive move list than Impact enjoys. For instance, in Attitude you can grapple from behind. You can’t in Impact. It hides it relatively well of course, moves like German Suplexes are in the game but they all start from a face to face position, usually initiated by ducking a clothesline and going behind. All the moves are the same as well. Even the first Smackdown games for  the original Playstation had variations of moves depending on the wrestlers you were controlling (Rock’s spinebuster was different to Triple H’s for example), yet there’s very few variations of the same way to give any sense of individuality of the wrestlers you’re controlling.

There are different core styles of wrestling styles: high flyer, grappler being the standards. However, this essentially creates 6 different wrestlers with a finisher being the only thing that makes a wrestler unique. While we’re on the subject of finishers, they feel severely limited. Each character only has one finisher. For instance, if you want to use Sting’s “Scorpion Deathlock” or Kurt Angle’s “Angle Lock” you’re screwed, as the only moves featured for those guys are the “Scorpion Deathdrop” for Sting and the “Angle Slam” for Kurt Angle. Not to mention that each finisher is set up the same way: fill IMPACT meter, strong grapple facing your opponent, press circle and your finisher will be delivered.

Another thing that should be noted is the game play. Due to the repetitiveness of the moves and carbon copied character there isn’t much variety in the matches. This doesn’t really lend itself well to having fun matches. It flows well to start with but the lack of moves and variety in the characters is a total deal breaker in terms of creating absorbing, fun game play. The first few matches you’ll enjoy while you’re getting the hang of it, but after that it becomes a drag to play. It’s also near impossible to kick out of your opponents pins. It’s the most fiddly kick out system in the world. You have to do something with the left analogue stick. I’ve look at other reviews and see if anyone else has mentioned it and it seems to be a problem that is universally brought up. There’s also been an attempt to implement an innovative reversal system. The logic being that you can reverse any move besides finishers. While this is cool in theory, it just ends up being extremely frustrating when you’re spending ages reversing reversals of reversals reversed. Confused? Trying playing it!

One thing that should be noted is a positive is how good it looks. Yes, it’s not exactly hard to make games that look brilliant these days (when was the last time you saw a game with horrible graphics?), but Impact really does look superb. A lot of the guys look as if they’ve almost been ripped from a TV screen. Admittedly, they didn’t have the same difficulty that THQ has with the WWE. Impact’s roster is compact at best and a joke at worst given the size of it, but it has allowed the developers the scope to make each wrestler look great. Another nice addition to the game is a gallery of extra’s. Yes I know, usually extra’s are uninteresting things which take forever to unlock and ultimately prove to be wholly unrewarding. In Impact, you don’t have to unlock them as they’re available from the start. There’s highlights of five matches from TNA history, including the first match in TNA history featuring AJ Styles, Jerry Lynn and The Flying Elvises (horrible, horrible gimmick!). While this doesn’t save the game, it’s a neat little touch to show that TNA as a promotion is better than this horrible game.

There is also a career mode but I can’t really go into detail about it unfortuantely. The storyline felt Russo-esque. Think Ric Flair getting buried in a desert in WCW crossed with Cactus Jack’s amensia storyline and you’ll come up with something close to TNA’s career storyline. Horrendous, I didn’t even get past the tag team section where you team with Eric Young. Remember Suicide? He’s who you play as in the career/story mode.

In short, Impact was TNA and Midway’s chance to create a game that could’ve challenge the WWE’s monopoly of the genre and to garner themselves some positive publicity. Instead, they created another bad wrestling game and showed themselves to be a second rate promotion with a second rate developer. Which is a shame given that the “Smackdown v Raw” series was never really amazing or a special franchise: but it was solid and relatively enjoyable, which is a far call from TNA’s offering. In fact, I’d advise you to go and pick up a copy of “Here Comes The Pain” before parting with the cash for “Impact” if you still have a PS2. Better gameplay, better stories, better everything pretty much!

I can only offer my sincerest apologies to the unfortunate souls who paid £40 for this on release, I paid 1p plus shipping and I feel ripped off!

Feel free to follow me on twitter @MichaelBrown_91