Review by JPeeples

Reviewed: 12/11/00 | Updated: 12/11/00

A good idea that fails in execution.

WCW Backstage Assault was released in late October/early November of 2000 for the Sony PlayStation. This game features over 50 wrestlers and a nice variety of innovative modes. WCW BA was developed by Kodiak and is distributed by EA. This is the sequel to 1999’s WCW Mayhem, which was EA’s first wrestling game. It was also the first game to feature backstage areas. Appearantly Kodiak and EA thought that the backstage areas were the best part of the game because this year’s WCW game places the focus entirely on the backstage aspect of the last game, there is no wrestling ring whatsoever in this game, thus the title Backstage Assault. This game also features a Create-A-Wrestler mode that allows you to, for the most part, create the grappler of your dreams. There are seven main backstage areas in the game, they are the truck arena, locker rooms, the loading bay,the bathrooms, the boiler room (A.K.A.: The Block), the parking garage, and the media center.

Graphics-5/10- The graphics are a huge mixed bag. The backstage areas look great, they are very complex, and full of little details and interactive elements. For example, in either of the bathrooms you can remove a mirror, a sink, and a hand dryer, all in one area of the bathroom. You can even mix weapons and environmental effects. For example, you can light a 2 X 4 on fire by swinging it near a flaming barrel, this is a nice touch. The character models on the other hand, are very bland, it seems as if all Kodiak did was slap a generic face on the wrestlers’ heads, there’s no detail in them whatsoever. For the most part, the wrestlers’ actual costumes are nicely detailed, except for some horrible ones, Madusa’s costumes come to mind, they don't resemble anything I've ever seen her wear. Collision detection is horrible in this game, your arms and legs go through your opponent constantly, the animation also needs a ton of work, it’s far too choppy now.

Pros- Huge, finely detailed backstage areas.
Cons- The character models are generic. Animation is choppy. Collision detection is horrible.

Sound-7/10- The wrestlers’ themes are clear, but they re far too short. The commentary is, like WCW Mayhem’s, exceptional, the only problem that I have with it is that most of it was recycled for this game. The sound effects are exceptional, especially for the weapons. Some of the best examples are of the mirrors breaking and the microwaves and computer monitors zapping your opponent.

Pros- Excellent sound effects. Great commentary.
Cons- Most of the commentary is recycled from WCW Mayhem.

Gameplay-6/10- This game offers up numerous innovations, it is the first game to feature only backstage areas and no rings, it has the most number of backstage areas of any other game to date, it also features the first multi--tiered backstage areas. The backstage areas do have some wrestling ring elements to them, for example, the tires can act as ring ropes.
This game features numerous modes to keep you entertained, they are:
Exhibition- You can fight anyone in any of the backstage areas that you've unlocked.
Hardcore Challenge- Basically a Championship mode, you can fight for the Hardcore (Easy), U.S. (Medium), or World (Hard) titles in this mode.
Hardcore Gauntlet- You have to beat seven consecutive opponents, damage carries over from fights.
Create a Wrestler- Allows you to make your own wrestlers, you can edit an existing wrestler in this mode as well, anything you do in this mode must be saved to a memory card.

Pros- The most interactive backstage areas ever in a wrestling game.
Cons- The gameplay is mired in collision detection problems.

Control-3/10- The controls are horrible. The delay between your command and the on-screen action can be as long as 3 seconds. Running in this game is an exercise in and of itself because of the unresponsive controls, it’s so bad that sometimes you can’t even move your characters, this is most notable when you are near a table.

Pros- None.
Cons- Some of the most unresponsive control in history.

Challenge-7/10- For the most part, the character AI is fair, but the AI for some characters (Goldberg and Shane Douglas pop out at me) is very cheap, in some cases you'll be lucky to land one big move.

Replay Value-8/10- There is a ton of stuff to unlock, from new wrestlers, to new moves. The only question is, will you be motivated to find it?

Presentation-4/10- The presentation doesn’t look or feel like WCW’s, it feels like a cheap knock-off of the WWF’s. It’s not original and looks half-hearted.

Overall-6/10- This game does feature one of the biggest innovations in wrestling games, namely the unbelievable amount of interactivity in the backstage areas, unfortunately, this came at too great a cost. The graphics are decent enough, the sound is good, the gameplay is innovative, but the controls are atrocious. This game feels like a rush-job, I feel that if Kodiak had been given a few more months to develop the game, they could have fixed some of the problems that plague this game. As it stands, it’s a decent enough effort, but it isn’t a recommended purchase, only buy this game if you have to have the most recent WCW game available.

Buy or Rent?-Rent- This game has a ton of stuff to unlock, but the backstage areas feel like a novelty, the game is good if you want to play it in short bursts, but not as a long-term game. If you need a new wrestling game for your PSX, get WWF SmackDown 2: Know Your Role, the game is leagues ahead of this game in almost every category.

The Good- Lots of characters. Tons of weapons. A few innovations. Tons of replay

The Bad- Lack of modes. The game engine needs a lot of work.
The Ugly- The inaccurate character models. The shoddy collision detection. The sloppy

PlayStation 2 Enhancements- The textures are cleaned up without any glitces (that I've noticed anyway), the loading times, while reduced, are still a pain to sit through. With the texture smoothing option on, I would raise the graphics up to a 6.

Score Rundown
Graphics- 5
Sound- 7
Gameplay- 6
Control- 3
Challenge- 7
Replay Value- 8
Presentation- 4
Overall- 6

Rating:   3.0 - Fair

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