WCW/nWo Thunder was the last WCW video game to be released on the Sony Playstation by THQ. It is a direct sequel to the game WCW Nitro that was released in 1997. Many say that calling it a sequel is going a bit far as it is more of an expansion rather than a full on sequel.
Thunder was a 2nd weekly prime time TV show that was introduced by WCW in 1998 and would run until March 2001. WCW had such a huge hit with their Monday Nitro TV show that it was decided they should have a second weekly show that also aired during prime time, but on a Thursday evening. The WWE would counter this with their own Thursday night show (which has since moved to Friday) Smackdown.
This game uses that same “photo realistic” graphical style that WCW Nitro used a year earlier. Not a great deal has changed to be honest. While they have aged pretty bad I do think that they did a decent job in capturing many of the little details of each wrestler. This is something that even now does not happen too often. The problem with the character models is when they move. The animation is kind of jerky and when you see the game in motion it does kind of take away from the fact that he graphics are not that bad.
The game has those same fun rants at the wrestler selection screen that WCW Nitro had and once again they are a joy to watch. This really is a cool little feature that would be fun to see brought back in a modern wrestling game. The game has a huge amount of arenas, and I love the design on these. One very odd thing about the arenas though is that while pretty much every WCW pay-per-view arenas is included, they left out the WCW Monday Nitro arena which was the flagship show of WCW.
WCW/nWo Thunder uses real life entrance footage for the wrestler entrances these last all of about five seconds, and at first I thought they were pretty cool, but when you think about it this really is pretty lazy. The games sound can get pretty annoying and there is some play by play commentary, but like most wrestling games you can expect to hear the same things over and over again.
If you hated WCW Nitro then you will hate this game let’s get that out of the way right now. The game is even easier than WCW Nitro was. You can literally win a match in around twenty seconds juts by spamming the same grapple or a weapon attack over and over again. This is a bit of a shame as I do like the beat em up control method of doing your wrestlers special attacks, but what is the point when you can win a match with one body slam then ten stomps to the head? This makes multi player just even more frustrating as it comes down to who can hit that first more. Whoever hits that first move will win the match unless they screw up pretty bad.
The single player aspect of the game is just the same as it was last time. You can compete in a series of matches in order to win one of the WCW Championships. To be fair this was pretty common for the era so it’s a bit harsh to put the game down for that. Cage matches and battle royals were included in the game. I loved the look of the cage in this game it just looked so different from cages that had been in other wrestling games. Like in WCW Nitro this game had a ton of crazy cheats that you could do, but they did not change them up at all they are exactly the same and they even use the same code to activate them.
One thing that WCW/nWo Thunder did that was really cool was allowing you to change the stable (a stable is a team of wrestlers)that a wrestler was in. You had five stables in the game WCW, nWo Hollywood, nWo Wolfpack, Raven’s Flock and the Four Horsemen. With the press of a button you can change the stable that a wrestler is in. So if you wanted Bret Hart to be the leader of the Four Horsemen then you can. Or maybe you would want Goldberg to join either of the nWo factions. If you were a wrestling fan this did add a great deal of fun to the game.
I do not hate WCW/nWo Thunder, but I really can see why so many people do. The game to me is a great example of a rush job. They wanted to get another WCW game on the market while they were really popular. I did have a bit of fun with this game and if you want a wrestling game where you can just turn your brain off for twenty minutes then this would suit you well. While very far from perfect I would still pick WCW/nWo Thunder over WCW Nitro.
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