When I was around 10 years old, I became a fan of wrestling. I would watch Raw every week and be so pumped from the drama and epic matches each episode had. The aerial jumps from the Hardy Boyz, Steve Austin and the Stone Cold Stunner, or Triple H sneaking up from behind and planting a chair right into Mankind’s head. What kept my excitement going, however, were the games that Acclaim was releasing. The first game was WWF Warzone and man, it packed a whole can of whup-ass! I remember slamming my opponent onto the canvas, then as he was stunned, I climbed the turnbuckle and drove my elbow into his heart. In hardcore matches, I would bash bells into their heads, break TVs on them and slam them through tables. A year later, a follow up was released. It’s been over 10 years and wrestling isn’t the juggernaut it used to be. The WWF is now the WWE, WCW is gone and a new league, TNA, is growing. Has my opinion of this game changed with the times?
The first thing you’ll notice is the graphics are typical for what you would expect from the Nintendo 64 and Sony PlayStation: blocky 3D models that move stiffly and have no facial animations. As with many games from that era, they haven’t aged well. They can look like lazy-eyed body builders that need to use the toilet NOW! However, they still are acceptable and once you’ve adjusted yourself that this is a late 90s game, it won’t bother you. You will laugh at the poor wrestles who can’t use the bathroom. It’s worth mentioning that the Nintendo 64 version seems to be slightly better clarity. Sound varies by platform. Both have sound effects that are serviceable but the PlayStation has much better music due to the CD format. The Nintendo 64 sounds tinny and suffers in comparison. It sounds like the SNES! Other differences include FMVs for challenge matches and fully animated menus in the PlayStation and two additional modes for the Nintendo 64.
However, the meat of the game is the matches. You can experience the game through 1-4 players in a variety of match types, such as Cage, Hardcore, and Handicap. You’ll use famous grapplers from the era, such as Stone Cold Steve Austin, Faarooq, Shawn Michaels, Goldust and the Head Bangers, Thrasher and Mosh. You can also create your own character in the create a wrestler mode, that while limited, is a nice addition since you can upgrade your character’s stats by completing certain tasks. However, the mode you will spend the most time on is the Challenge mode, where you will work your way up the WWF ladder until you’ve won the Intercontinental Title and then the Championship Belt. You can also unlock different cheats by beating Challenge mode with different wrestlers, including your created wrestle.
WWF Warzone was released hot off the heels of WCW vs. nWo: World Tour. Although a wrestling game like WCW, the game mechanics are quite different. Developer Acclaim took a more technical and realistic approach to the wrestling genre than the WCW game did. Holds and grabs are done with directional and button presses that is more similar to fighting games such as Street Fighter and Killer Instinct. Of course, there are no fireballs or sonic booms so all of the moves are in close quarters. This makes combat slower and more methodical, which suits the game well. Also, wrestlers will have more moves since there are many different combinations possible. Since slams aren’t done with a push of a button and a direction, it helps give a more visceral feel to the game. Pile drivers and Power Bombs look like they hurt more. Multiplayer matches are a practice in betrayal, especially in 3 to 4 player matches. They are however, a lot of fun. However, when playing the Challenge mode, gameplay starts to show that it lacks lasting power as doing the same thing for twenty or so matches starts to become boring. Unfortunately, the gameplay never evolves and you’ve seen the extent of the combat system after just one match. However, the game mechanics are still good and more importantly rewarding.
In summation, WWF Warzone is one of those games that has suffered due to age but is still fun, especially if you played it back in the day. It may not be as good as you remember it but you can still have a fun time playing it. Also, this was the strongest time for the WWF and this has the greatest cast of wrestlers in WWF history. In a way, WWF Warzone is in a way better than the newer Smackdown vs. Raw titles. This title doesn’t feel as vanilla as the yearly installments of today. The new WWE games have better gameplay but Warzone has personality. Both versions of the game play well and you’ll be happy with both, but I think the PlayStation version is slightly better due to the extra features and the controls seem better suited to the PlayStation’s controller. WWF Warzone can be found dirt cheap now so I’d say go pick this up. You’ll have a good time and multiplayer can be real fun with friends who like the WWE or who like old school games like this and that’s the bottom line because Stone Cold said so!!! Actually this is the bottom line.
Final Verdict: 3 out of 5