Hands On At E3

by Will Benson on 20th July 2008

Article by Greg Miller of IGN. It might be a hard fact to accept, but it’s true. In two months, TNA iMPACT! will be on the street and — possibly — in your hands. Why’s it hard to believe? Well, we really haven’t seen that much on this game. Sure, IGN has more than a few TNA previews in the backend, but we don’t know the full roster, what all the arenas are, or who will have the most devastating finisher. That won’t be the case for long, though. Starting next week, IGN will be bringing you the videos, screens, renders, finishers and entrances for every wrestler in iMPACT! as part of an ongoing feature called TNA-Listers*. You’ll get the nitty-gritty details on a game that’s really been kind of an enigma. Of course, this is E3, so I’m not just bringing you here to tease an upcoming feature. Today, I played TNA iMPACT!, and I have a few things to report.

To begin with, I now have a solid list of match types this game will feature. The build I played packed: standard, tag team, free for all, Ultimate X, Ultimate X free for all, submission, falls count anywhere, falls count anywhere tag and handicap. It might not be the end all and be all list fans were hoping for, but I met the guys behind the game, and they’ve said that their freshman outing is all about gameplay.

After getting some solid hands-on time with a far-along version of iMPACT!, I can reiterate my early claims that the action is fast, but also let you know that there’s going to be a learning curve for seasoned mat technicians. Beyond flubbing and going to the joystick for grapples a few times like a certain wrestling game has taught me, I settled into using the face buttons for grabs, actions, punches, and kicks.

I wasn’t done with the hurdles, though. Being a child of the late ’90s/early ’00s ECW, I chose to take the man-beast Rhino into a falls count anywhere match against Abyss. Rhino’s entrance had him pounding his chest and throwing his arms into the air in typical war machine style, and then it was into the match. The problem I was having at first was having to hold the run button and then perfectly time hitting the strike button to land a shoulder block. For some reason, I kept tapping the run button expecting Rhino to keep moving on his own. Once I got used to holding the button, it seemed I was hitting the attack button too late and executing the move after I had passed Abyss. Eventually I got the timing down and started landing blows, but then, I started getting frustrated with the grapple system. Every move I was executing was a knee to the crotch. The problem, of course, was my fault — pushing forward on the joystick and the grapple button is the combo for the crotch attack — but it never felt natural to walk towards someone and then jerk the stick away and grapple.

Still, I’m not condemning the controls here, just talking about how tough it is to learn how to walk again. Eventually, I got back in the rhythm and was performing strong grapples, German suplexes and vicious throws. The Rhino who piledrove the Sandman’s wife off the apron and through a table is back, baby!

The big difference in this match versus every other match I’ve played in TNA is the fact that I got to wield a steel chair. When the falls count anywhere affair began, black chairs were positioned on the floor around the ring. Rhino crawled out, grabbed the chair, and slammed it into Abyss’ head. The chair slowly deforms — bending like a wilting flower — before getting dropped and disappearing after four hits.

Again, this is the most complete build of TNA I’ve ever played, so I was actually pretty psyched to see some of the title’s bells and whistles in play. When Rhino took Abyss down, the stun meter that had filled below my foe’s name slowly began to drain letting me know how long my opponent would be down; and when I pinned Abyss, a tower meter with a rocking joystick popped up. My opponent had to rock the stick fast enough to fill the meter before the three count. I hadn’t been sold on the meter, but after seeing it in action, I can dig it. Now you always know how close you are to kicking out.

I’m ready to get back to San Francisco and begin tearing into my build of TNA iMPACT! for the start of TNA-Listers, a feature that will build until we review the title in September. The character models look slick, the action is fast, and Jay Lethal’s finisher is harsh.

TotalWrestling will also be starting it’s own exclusive coverage next week, right here on our special TNA iMPACT section.

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