History of WWF/E Games Part 39
WWE Wrestlemania 21
Time to look at the last WWE game for the original Xbox.
As the Smackdown series on the Playstation had become Smackdown vs RAW, it would have been quite odd for the games on the original Xbox to go on being called RAW. So it was decided that as there had not been a game based on Wrestlemania for a couple of years, that THQ would use the Wrestlemania license for there next Xbox release.
THQ also dropped developer Anchor who had developed RAW and RAW 2, and Studio Gigante would take over. These guys never really lasted too long, but one of the guys who started up the company was John Tobias, and one of the men responsible for Mortal Kombat. I was kind of excited as I loved Mortal Kombat and I enjoyed Studio Gigante’s previous game, a beat em up called Tao Feng.
Wrestlemania 21 was not ready, but it was decided to release the game anyway. This was a game that was built 100% from the ground up, but it certainly needed more time in development. As some of the glitches were so bad the game was re-released shortly later, and you could return your buggy copy. However people have debated if anything was ever actually fixed.
WWE Wrestlemania 21 has some very amazing character models and I will go as far to say that the majority of the WWE games on the WII that were released years later, do not look as good as this. The arenas also look amazing. One very cool thing is that the legends who were in this game had actual titan torn videos for the very first time. Now I know I said that the character models looked amazing and for the most part they do, but every now and again something weird would happen that would take you totally out of the game. Like weird facial animations for example.
The roster many people complain is on the small side, but in all fairness as this was a game that was built from the ground up, so the roster was bound to suffer. I feel that it had a decent enough selection of modern WWE wrestlers and legends.
The sound in the game pretty much just uses licensed tracks that were included in previous WWE games, although there are a few new ones added. One huge plus in Wrestlemania 21 are the wrestler voice overs. I have no clue what Studio Gigante did, but they sound fantastic. The wrestlers all sound very enthusiastic when delivering their lines and they are of a much higher quality than the ones in Smackdown vs RAW on the Playstation 2. It really added more drama to the story lines.
“This game is a mess” a buddy of mine proclaimed, and in some cases that is really hard to argue with. But I will try and defend Studio Gigante a little bit here. I don’t think the game was broken, I just think plain and simple it was not ready for release. Wrestlemania 21 the actual event happened in April 2005 and no mater what state it was in, this game was going to be released within a few weeks of the event. There was no other alternative and it was actually delayed by about a week in the USA, and by a month here in the UK, but that really did not make a difference.
There are numerous issues with the controls. The hit detection or lack of it in some cases really will drive you crazy. Which is a shame as there have been occasions when I have been having fun playing this and then stuff would happen like the AI would just stand still. Or on many occasions I have knocked the AI character to the ground and instead of getting up they just roll around on the floor.
The wrestlers moves for me are a huge issue. Now let me just say that a few months back WWE 13 was released and even in that game the wrestler move sets are far from perfect, but here it is really bad. Again I want to stress that it was built from the ground up, but the selection of moves is very limited and some of the moves they decided to give certain wrestlers just make no sense at all. It really is a pity because I feel with a little more time in development this could have been a decent wrestling game and a good alternative to Smackdown vs RAW and Day of Reckoning.
Season mode here follows a similar path to that of Day of Reckoning. Where you need to make your own wrestler and try and get to the top of the WWE. There are two differences apart from the story line. The presentation here is faultless it really is spectacular what they pulled of, but the game play is no where near as fun as Day of Reckoning. Also the create a wrestler mode here is incredibly limited so it is really hard to make a great looking wrestler. It is kind of cool however the way that you can get attribute points to upgrade your wrestler.
There is a decent amount of game modes I guess, but some are missing that were in Smackdown vs RAW that was released months earlier. They did include all the basic match types, and speaking of which every match type in Wrestlemania 21 can be played online. That is if you can get the game to work online. I hand on heart can honestly say that in the time I had this I never once managed to get it to work online.
There are two modes that I did really enjoy, first is the “create a belt” mode that is a ton of fun and much easier than the same mode in Smackdown vs RAW. That leads into the next thing I like, and that is multi player. The game is surprisingly fun if you have a buddy next to you with one of the belts you created on the line, but you can also laugh at all the glitches, and it makes for some unpredictable moments. I am sure the developers never intended the game to be fun in this way; but it is.
Wrestlemania 21 is a game that many people simply detest. It’s quit sad that the original Xbox never got a great wrestling game even with three tries, and two different developers. To be fair the game is not the worst wrestling game I have ever played, and in recent years I have had more fun with it than I did back in 2005. I just wonder had the game not been so rushed to meet their April deadline, just how much better it could have been.
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