WWE Survivor Series (Game Boy Advance) Review

By Nick Cheesman 05.01.2005

The novelty of playing a wrestling game that was once found on the SNES and contained such WWF legends as Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and Yokozuna would not be lost on a long time wrestling fan. But when this is the third time said wrestling fan has done so, the experience becomes a little tiresome. Two years ago, Road to WWE Wrestlemania X8 was released as THQ's follow up to the SNES update, the original Road to Wrestlemania, and removed the cartoon graphics in favour of new digitized wrestlers that looked extremely similar to their real counterparts. With improved gameplay, audio and match modes, it was a great addition to the library. Sadly, a new roster of wrestlers and added match mode could not save Survivor Series.

Really Survivor Series has always been a pretty poor Pay Per View which used to be a lesser King of the Ring, but there was never anyway it could competed with the grand daddy of them all, Wrestlemania. That aside the fact Survivor Series is simply an update of X8 with new wrestlers and an added Survivor Series style match option does not show good omens. The new roster of WWE Superstars includes: Triple H, Shaun Michaels, The Undertaker, Kane, Edge, Christian, Rob Van Dam, Ray Mysterio, Eddie Guerrero, Chavo Guerrero, Chris Benoit, Chris Jericho, John Cena, Randy Orton, Booker T and Kurt Angle. Omissions from X8 include the immortal Hulk Hogan (Boo), The Rock (Hiss), The Dudley Boyz (Get off the Stage), Kevin Nash (No Way...Out!) and Test. (How did he get in anyway?)

Even if the faces are different, the visuals are still very much the same. The ring is shown from a side on view with the ring spread out at an angle to give a 3D effect, using shadows of the ropes and turnbuckles on the mat to further this effect. This is actually very impressive, up to the point when you lay your opponent out on the mat and see their feet sticking over the ropes, ruining the 3D arena. The wrestlers themselves still look as amazing as ever, with shadow and lighting on their muscles to produce models with great detail and appearance. Sadly, some wrestlers actually look extremely similar, put HBK, Jericho, Edge in a ring together and the only difference between them, bar their tights, are their hair colours, while skin and face all appear the same. This is very disappointing as some characters look extremely detailed, Triple H and Booker T for example.

However there are more problems that stick out at times; the bald wrestlers look overly stupid and ignoring the rants of Kane looking like a complete idiot without his mask, both Angle's and Kane's hairless heads look like huge tennis balls compared to the other wrestlers. Then there is the issue of size, when the small light weight Ray Mysterio is as big and chunky as the big red machine Kane, there is an obvious problem. Weapons also look a bit strange, as when put on their side most look like a bunch of badly place pixels, especially the title belt. Once you get past these problems, the detailed cartoon crowd still is a great improvement, but it is a shame their signs do not change as they did in X8. The change in wrestlers' stances is also apparent, as the superstars grab their arms and stoop after taking a heavy beating. Entrances are still the same, with wrestlers walking out and getting into the ring accompanied by their theme music, which although worse than what was found in the original GBA game, that were complete with video stills and sound bites from the actual entrances, suffice.

The entrance music on offer is in MIDI form, and do sound very good, Kane's music is a real treat, and there are no glaring failures or mistakes of any kind. It is only mid match with the same repeating retro riff that starts to annoy. The slams of the mat and connecting of punches do have a nice amount of power behind them, but bar the referee counting the 1-2-3 and the crowd sort of counting 1-10 in Royal Rumbles, there is little sound actually on offer, which is very disappointing.

The controls for the GBA WWE games have been the same for three games now, so while a little tricky to get to grips with at first, past players will pick them up with ease, and new comers will pick it up soon enough. The B button is used for punches and kicks, the A button used for grapples, and from there a direction and press of A or B will let loose one of 8 possible moves from the front, and then 6 from the back. Jumps from the top turnbuckle are still present, with axe handles and splashes, and two submissions and ground attacks that can be produced. Sadly, the fact that you can count the number of moves on offer does make it obvious how shallow the gameplay is, and how repetitive it becomes. Matches do not become a simple match to beat your opponent, but more of a go through every move you have and then beat your opponent match. Specials can then be done with a grapple and press of select, but to get that sacred finisher, you have to pull off moves to fill your momentum bar.

There is a little bit of strategy involved, with moves being harder to pull off and more likely to be reverse early on in the match, so it is better to use clotheslines and submissions to first wear your opponent down, before going in for suplexes and DDTs. However there is no actual reversal button, simply if you momentum bar is full, you are more likely to reverse something. High momentum also means it is more likely for you to kick out of a pin, and button bashing helps to break out of submissions. One of the games faults is how everything seems very random, deliver move after move on an opponent and they will somehow gain momentum, or at points later on in a match opponents will break out of every move, which becomes increasingly irritating.

Something else that has taken a knocking is that amount of modes on offer. The King of the Ring mode has been lost in favour of a simple tournament mode, probably as King of the Ring at Survivor Series made less sense than it being at Wrestlemania. The Gauntlet or survival mode has been removed completely, but there is the addition of a new team battle in the typical Survivor Series match, with four teams, four wrestlers on each and an elimination process to obtain victory. This is followed with the usual suspects of Royal Rumble, hardcore, Cage, Submission, Iron man match, Lumberjack, Three stages of hell and the usual tag team, triple threat and fatal four ways.

However for single player the biggest draw is the story mode, but it really is not much of a story mode, just join as a rookie wrestler and either Paul Heyman or Eric Bischoff will tell you to win matches to qualify for title shots, ranging from cage, submission, hardcore and royal rumbles. And when you have won the World or WWE championship belt, you go to the other show, Smackdown or RAW to do the same thing over again, with the different belts on offer. It is very shallow and has no plot of any kind, but the small challenge is there as well. Winning matches is not the only objective however, gaining popularity is needed, by doing all your moves, making sure your opponent gets a few shots in so the match is not too one sided and the crowd are happy or just finish the match with your special. This is fine in single matches, but with a tag team partner where you need to obtain a high partnership rating it is increasingly difficult to actually work together with a partner who when tagged in refuses to tag out and only take a thorough beating. Though the AI is pretty poor on the whole, as opponents can never seem to get around repetitive patterns of any kind. Overall the story mode is not very hard at all and the fact you have to do the same thing over again once you win on one show is very cheap, but the large amount of match modes and four player options means that Survivor Series will be played more than once.

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

The fact X8 was such an improvement lessens Survivor Series quality, as it is essentially a lazy update with a few additions, but nothing that was greatly needed. It is a fun game, and if you missed X8, then you will thoroughly enjoy this, but be warned, EA updates usually do more than what is found hear. THQ, don't get lazy, please!

Developer

Natsume

Publisher

THQ

Genre

Sport

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  6/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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