on 19 November 2002
Here is a review by somebody who has actually played the game (solidly for 4 days!) and as such I'll tell you what I would have liked to know. Firstly the roster, there are 60 wrestlers and Rey Mysterio is not one of them, neither is John Cena, Batista or Eric Bischoff. Basically this is the roster from around this summer because although the Vengeance arena from July is un-lockable in the game, the Vengeance arena from December is used in season mode in July, so they had time to create the arena, but not put it in the season mode. This is also probably why Stone Cold is in the game, they knew he was gone by June but as he is a big part of the season mode (he has to choose RAW or Smackdown! And posters of him appear backstage and outside the arena) they could not remove him from the game and still make the release date. The most up to date story line is Shawn Michaels versus Triple H in a street-fight at Summerslam. The much hyped season mode starts in April 2002, and goes up until Wrestlemania 2004! You wrestle 4 shows a month with your chosen wrestler (RAW, Smackdown! Or both if your the Champ, only ever 4 a month though, so if you're the champ that's 2 of each) and up to 14 Pay-Per-Views a year (Insurrextion & Rebellion are optional). By my maths that's up to 124 matches a year with your chosen wrestler! Last years Season mode was like 3 matches! That doesn't include the other matches, some of which you can play as another wrestler or interfere with your own. Each show, be it TV or PPV is made up of 3 matches, so that's 372 matches that take place over the course of the 2-year season mode. Title wise it's the same deal again, it's the same titles that were around in the early summer. So that's 1 set of tag champs, one world's champ (the undisputed, not WCW belt), Intercontinental, European, Hardcore, and Cruiserweight (although the Light-Heavyweight is pictured on the title screen, the champ wears the old WCW Cruiserweight belt to the ring). The champions at the start of game are Christian & Lance Storm, The Undertaker, RVD, Regal, Bradshaw, & The Hurricane, so you get an idea of when the programmers cut off point for changes were. From playing through the entire season the old WCW belt is not in the game at all despite some early screen shots. All of the wrestlers are unlocked but their different outfits aren't, so if you win at a PPV you have a choice of items to Unlock. For example, at the No Mercy PPV you could unlock Shawn Michaels other outfits if you completing year 2, or two other wrestlers outfits be it year 1 or 2, or moves sets, create parts, or the PPV arena you were just victorious in. Michaels has 2 outfits, jeans & nWo shirt or jeans, white t-shirt & cowboy hat, so no tights from 98 & before. So the game only allows recent outfits, so even though I have yet to unlock The Undertaker, I doubt he has his old black tights from 99 and before. Hogan has 2 red & yellow outfits (different bandana's) and 1 nWo black & white outfit like he'd have worn when he returned in February. Most wrestlers have 2 or 3 outfits, I've only found X-Pac so far that only has 1 and I'd guess that was because he was a late edition to the game. Most of the big stars have 3, The Rock has his tights, track suit & leather outfit, Austin has his all black tights, black tights with red knee brace and cut off jeans and What? T-shirt, Triple H has 1 set of tights, jeans & white Triple H T-shirt, and jeans, jean jacket over black leather jacket and T-shirt combo. Jericho has 3 outfits, 2 are variations of his pink & black tights, one with shirt, one without where he has a beard and his hair tied back, the other he has no beard and his hair down. Play ability wise this is the best yet, advances have been made to improve things without spoiling what was right in the 1st place. For example, you used to press grapple to pull up an opponent, you still do, but now if you press grapple twice your opponent will have his back to you, this makes it much easier to do special moves from behind, like the Angle-Slam. To reverse you press square for a punch or kick but square and a direction to reverse a grapple, instead of just square for everything like last year. This adds depth as you must consider you opponent, like Stone Cold throws alot of kicks and punches, whereas others grapple more. Weapons are more interactive than ever, grapple whilst holding a chair and you DDT your opponent on it, stun an opponent whilst holding one and you can do a Smackdown! Move with it. All in all, this game is better in every way compared to those that went before it. It looks the best yet, Booker T, RVD, Hogan, Shawn Michaels, all look identical to how they do in real life. It plays better than ever, the options season mode, and roster is the best yet. I mean when has there ever been a time when you have the top ECW stars (RVD, Rhyno, Tazz, The Dudley Boyz, etc) the top WCW stars (DDP, Booker T, Hogan, Flair, the nWo) and the top WWF stars (Rock, Austin, Triple H, Undertaker, Kane) all in the same game? I mean, each year we've come to expect better graphics, more options, enhanced game-play, and as such this game is the best yet, but if you consider that we'll probably never have a roster as good as this again, then this just might be the best ever!