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Preview: Wrestlemania XIX for Nintendo Gamecube
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Old 31 Mar 2003, 10:23 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Preview: Wrestlemania XIX for Nintendo Gamecube

March 30, 2003 - This weekend is a big one for the residents of Seattle, Washington. The overcast city is being invaded by hordes of anxious WWE fans in preparation for one of the most exciting WWE events of the year. At roughly 5PM PST, tens of thousands of screaming, sweaty fans will be packed into Safeco Field for tonight's star-studded Wrestlemania XIX event. But perhaps even more exciting for videogame publisher THQ was its press event held earlier this morning at the downtown Seattle W hotel. In a room crowded with gaming journalists from across the globe, the company unveiled its upcoming WWE Wrestlemania XIX GameCube title for the very first time, and, best of all, it let us grab the controllers ourselves and get a feel for how this latest Cube wrestler is shaping up.
THQ has been hard at work on the title since last May with a development team combined with the best minds of both Yukes and former Aki talent. Today, the company was extremely excited to finally pull the hood off its project and get feedback and impressions from those at the event. The title is currently considered to be in the "pre-alpha" stage, which means that there's still much work left to be done until it hits store shelves later this fall. Bear in mind that much of the gameplay elements we saw in action today are still being tweaked behind the scenes and will be slightly different in their final implementation. But for the most part, the two-wrestler demo that we experienced is the new direction that THQ is planning to send its Wrestlemania franchise, and based on our brief time with it, we walked away very impressed.

For those who read our earlier preview sneak-peek on the many new exciting features that THQ is looking to pack into the game, today's event unfolded as a recap of many of those same gameplay tidbits; things such as the new story mode, realistic wrestler models, specialized fighter abilites, and limb-specific damage were all highlighted as brand-new features exclusive to this latest Wrestlemania title. But the company also went on to reveal a few new interesting concepts with expanded insight.

For starters, a THQ spokesman emphasized a focus on five key design objectives with this year's game:

Fun: Above all, THQ wants this latest WWE title for GameCube to be considered one of the most entertaining wrestling titles that its ever produced.
Depth without complexity: The devlopment team is working to boost gameplay strategy without making the end result tiresome or tedious.
Organic gameplay: As an example given during the THQ presentation, CPU opponents will learn the player's attack patterns and adjust its own tactics accordingly, in addition to providing more realistic and seamless animations in the process.
Presentation: The company is giving serious attention to enhancing the intensity of the crowd, the dramatic camera angles, and the in-game sound effects.
The "wow" factor: THQ is generally determined to make gamers' jaws drop when they step into the ring for themselves later this year with a never-before-achieved level of polish and WWE spectacle.
In addition, THQ also expanded on some of the previously known gameplay elements. The story mode, which takes players on a conquest of back-stage revenge against ringleader Vinch McMahon, is now set to offer WWE fans some brand-new play mechanics, such as climbing and hanging from structures and interacting with these real-world environments in ways that other Wrestlemania games have never attempted. There's also a new single-player "ShopZone" feature, where players can spend their cash earned throughout the story mode on a variety of bonuses ranging from new playable wrestlers to arenas, outfits, and more.
These details gave us a good idea of what to expect from the game down the road, but our attention soon turned to what the game has to offer right now as we plugged in our Nintendo controllers and booted up the early demo. This single match demo allowed two players to duke it out in a timed grudge match between Rey Mysterio and The Undertaker. The point of the hands-on experience was to get a feel for the several new gameplay elements that the development team is designing in addition to appreciating the new graphical presentation.

Using the GameCube controller, the current control scheme breaks down as follows:

Initiate Weak Grapple: Tap A + direction
Initiate Strong Grapple: Hold A, then press A or B + direction for either a strong grapple or strike variation
Strike Attack: B + direction
Grapple Reversal: L button
Strike Reversal: R button
Special Move Reversal: L + R buttons
Pin: A + down
Kick Out of Pins/Submissions: Wiggle control stick
Run/Get In and Out of Ring: Y + control stick
Pick Up Weapon: X + Control Stick
Initiate Special Move: A + B, then press A + B again to perform during a 10 second limit
As returning Wrestlemania gamers can see, some moves will be familiar this year, while others are fresh. The new weak and strong grapple system is a nice feature that definitely adds depth to the gameplay, as we were able to tell the advantages to getting off a quick and light grapple versus the more slow and powerful slams to the mat.
At the top of the screen, three indicators clue players into the status of their fighter. The top meter is a momentum indicator which turns from blue to green to red as players eventually start kicking ass and building up steam -- the more momentum you have, you'll definitely notice a distinct improvement in your dexterity and ability to dish out the pain. The middle bar is a blue addreneline meter that fills up with every strike, grapple, and reversal you pull off. Once the bar fills, one-third of the yellow special bar below it will light up. Once all three yellow blocks are glowing, players can hit the A + B buttons to deal XIX's highly cinematic and player-specific special moves.

Each fighter will feature at least two of his or her special moves in the game, and some will even feature a third. In today's gameplay time, we were able to pull off The Undertaker's "Last Ride" and "Choke Slam" specialties with the greatest of ease, in addition to Mysterio's head-crunching "X-Factor." When special moves and other strong grapples are triggered, the camera shifts to an intense close-up of the action that definitely looks to give XIX that presentation boost that THQ is aiming for.

We left this morning's event wishing that we had even more time to enjoy with the already fun yet early build of the game, but we didn't leave empty handed. THQ was gracious enough to let us share the WWE love with you by snagging a ton of super-sweet direct feed footage of the game in action for the very first time. Check it out for yourselves right now in this media story right here, and stay tuned for much more on this highly anticipated wrestling monster in the coming weeks right here on IGNcube.

source: www.igncube.com
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What do you guys think of this? I think it sounds like they are adding more No Mercy like elements to the game, not to mention that they already have confirmed things like blood(which is the first for a next gen wrestling game) and a improved create a wrestler over the last game(all this was said in an IGN Insider article that i cannot paste due to the fact it is a pay account thing). I personally cannot wait and think this could be the best of all the wrestling titles out right now.
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Old 01 Apr 2003, 04:05 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Impressions: WWE Wrestlemania XIX
Rick had a chance to go hands-on with WrestleMania XIX for GameCube this weekend. Can THQ manage to erase the bad memories of their last outing?
Written: 03/31/2003

It’s a pretty rare thing in this industry when a company will not only admit when they’ve failed, but they then turn around and do everything possible to make good on prior broken promises. At THQ’s WrestleMania XIX event this past Sunday, the company did just that. In their initial presentation, THQ made it very clear that they are listening to fans and journalists alike. They want to make sure you judge this game based on what the game delivers this time, and to not let the travesty that was WrestleMania X8 weigh unfairly on this product.

To that end, THQ is turning the series around 180 degrees, aiming to deliver in five key areas. First and foremost, they want the game to be fun. They want people to be able to pick up the game and have a blast with it. This was something severely lacking in WrestleMania X8, but if this early look at the game is any indication, even the THQ staff really enjoys playing the game.

Second, they’ve developed a new gameplay system that gives you depth without the stifling complexity you’d see in other games. You initiate a grapple with the A button, tapping it for a weak grapple and holding it down for a strong grapple, at which point you can unleash a move or your opponent can counter. The buttons usually have this dual context, even outside of grapples, where they do one thing when tapped, or another when held. Best of all, it gives you a great variety of moves without having to initiate a ridiculous series of button presses to do one move. It’s not the No Mercy grapple engine, but it actually feels a lot faster and easier, and with a similar variety of moves from any given position.

Third, THQ wants to make sure that the AI is more “organic”, and can learn from the player. For example, if the player is primarily using a couple of moves, the computer will learn to expect those moves and counter them. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see this during my brief time with the game, as this pre-alpha demo was limited to just Rey Mysterio and The Undertaker.

Next, they want to make sure that the presentation of the game is in line with what fans expect when they see a WWE broadcast. You know what to expect when you see RAW or SmackDown! on TV, or a Pay-Per-View event, and THQ is going to ensure that feeling is translated into the product. We were able to catch glimpses of this progress through the use of some very dynamic camera angles that happen not only during an instant replay, but also as some other moves are made, the camera would pan out and turn around. There was a definite “wow” factor to that effect, which is the last thing THQ is set on delivering. WrestleMania X8 didn’t convey any sense of excitement, but even in this build, we were quite impressed with the level of refinement.

The game has been in development since last May, with people from both Yuke’s and former AKI employees completely rebuilding the engine from scratch, and it’s pretty clear right from the get-go that they know what they want to do this time around. Even with only two characters to play with, you could see a lot of what they’ve put into the game. The animation is very fluid, more so than even the very good SmackDown: Shut Your Mouth for PlayStation 2. Fans of wrestling know that The Undertaker and Rey Mysterio have completely different ways of moving around the ring, and each one moves just as you would expect in the game. Rey is quick and agile, and even when standing still, he sort of crouches and weaves, ready for anything. Taker moves more slowly and more deliberately, and you can almost feel the power behind his punches. It wouldn’t matter how accurately the wrestlers moved if you couldn’t recognize who was pulling them off, but the wrestlers I saw were incredibly well detailed. A lot of work has gone into getting them to look just right; the animation is a combination of motion capture and hand animation. THQ told me that they use a lot of photographs to get the details just right.

The two wrestlers were different heights, and they wrestlers seemed to be aware of that height difference, something we haven’t seen much of in other games. When standing toe-to-toe, Rey Mysterio would look up at The Undertaker, which was pretty interesting. Height and speed aren’t the only differences, as the wrestlers will all have different stats that determine how they will work in a match. Power, stamina, etc. will all play a part. As I played the game, you could see this system in effect, as you needed to be very skilled with Mysterio in order to get the better of Taker. Rey didn’t have as much power or stamina as Taker, and he needed to use that speed to stay out of Taker’s grasp. These stats are augmented somewhat with a “momentum meter” above the wrestler’s name, which changes from the default green to red, as the player starts doing well giving them a small bump to their stats. As a player’s momentum drops, the meter will fade from green to blue, giving them a small loss in stats as well. Gaining the edge in the match and keeping it is going to be an important part of the strategy in WrestleMania XIX.

Fans of wrestling “psychology” will love the new location damage feature. You can target a specific part of your opponent’s body, weakening an arm or leg (or even head) to the point where the victim will start to “sell” that injury during the match, favoring the damaged area. Weakening a specific limb will also give you an advantage when your wrestler’s moveset targets a limb. Of course, WrestleMania XIX will be the first wrestling game in this generation to feature blood. The screen flashes red briefly to alert you to the fact that a wrestler has been busted open, and then the juice will start to flow.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a wrestling game without the trademark finishing moves, and the game looks to deliver them in a somewhat new way. With every punch, successful grapple, and reversal you land, your adrenaline meter fills. When completely full, one “special” bar (out of three) will light up. Pressing A and B at the same time will initiate your special “mode” which lasts for a limited amount of time, around 10 seconds or so, and will put a fascinating glow around the wrestler’s name. The wrestler will give a signal, such as The Undertaker dragging his thumb across his throat, signaling the demise of his opponent. Hitting the A and B buttons again when in the proper placement for the move will use that wrestler’s finisher, but if you run out of time before you pull off the move, you’ve wasted a special bar.

Speaking of the finishers, they look fantastic. Each is incredibly realistic and has that distinctive look you’ve come to expect. The Undertaker hoists his opponent up for the “Last Ride”, even tugging them by the trunks, just like on TV. There are few moves quite as spectacular as Mysterio’s “619”, as he slingshots himself through the ropes horizontally, whipping around and kicking the victim in the head. The wrestlers have multiple finishers as well; Undertaker also sports both the “Tombstone Piledriver” and the “Choke Slam”, and Mysterio has the “Top Rope Hurricanrana” and “Sit Out Face Slam”.

The story mode has had people talking, where Vince McMahon fires you, and you have to gain your revenge. You will battle McMahon flunkies in a variety of locations, using the environments to your advantage. You’ll be able to climb all over objects to try and gain the upper hand. As you progress, you’ll earn cash which can be spent in the WWE ShopZone, unlocking more costumes, wrestlers, features and more.

The arenas weren’t all in place yet, but we did get to see brief glimpses of the “RAW” set, and it looked very accurate. As for the WrestleMania set, the WWE had several hard and roaming cameras in place to get the arena from every angle, but THQ won’t just rely on that footage. They’ll actually be getting a lot of information from tapes of events and shows, so they can review them over and over again to make sure they get it right. After seeing the WrestleMania event live, the arena looked spectacular, and seeing that translated into the game should be very impressive.

Overall, the game was surprisingly polished for an early build, feeling fresh and new, and I am enthusiastic about the new direction in which THQ is taking the title. If the rest of the game is as refined as this brief glimpse, fans should have no problem dismissing the failed WrestleMania X8 in favor of this new entry to the series.


Rick Powers, IT Director, Senior Editor

source: www.planetgamecube.com
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Old 01 Apr 2003, 07:05 AM   #3 (permalink)
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so X9 should be good then!
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Old 01 Apr 2003, 07:37 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Holy crap you can beat up security!
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Old 01 Apr 2003, 11:11 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Wow, I never saw that one!
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Old 01 Apr 2003, 12:57 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Check videogames.com
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Old 01 Apr 2003, 01:39 PM   #7 (permalink)
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This one's cool too!
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