N-Gage Review: WWE Aftershock

A video game that is beyond unnecessary, WWE Aftershock stands as the only pro wrestling title on the N-Gage. The problem is that the N-Gage didn't have a need for a wrestling game. The plain, dull Aftershock proves why.

With a decent roster of a dozen wrestlers (two of which are hidden at the start), players can compete in a disappointingly unvaried set of match types. First blood, I Quit, and No D.Q. bouts are the biggest departures from standard grappling. To add some personality, all combatants come to the ring with their trademark entrances, though pyrotechnics and lighting is almost non-existent.

That little piece of showmanship is the only thing that separates these athletes. This is an ugly N-Gage game, and even if you're played most of the library, this one sticks out as a truly nasty polygonal mess. Animation is stiff and completely unconvincing. Kicks are flat out funny as the wrestler's leg moves without the body shifting at all. There's not even a complete walking animation to be found. Running occurs so quickly, they might as well be levitating since the limited animation doesn't have time to cycle.

While the effect on gameplay is minor (it maintains a steady frame rate), even the slight pressure on the system's processor caused things to be compromised. AI is terrible, and winning a tag match is an almost impossible affair. Every few punches, the opponent tags out. This is constant, and practically unstoppable. Wireless Bluetooth matches are a nice touch that alleviates the problem. Of course, you'll need to find someone to play against.

Grappling is based on the ancient "art" of button mashing. Each wrestler has the same basic move set, aside from their finishers. If the graphics made it difficult to distinguish the superstars, the typical shared move set doesn't make it any easier. There's rarely a need to worry about that though. Punching and kicking (in other words, wailing away on the 5 key) is enough to win every match. CPU countering is rare on the lower difficulties, and ridiculous on the highest.

There's no backstage action in Aftershock. Those looking to cause some real damage can head outside the ring and find a chair. It's a quick way to make someone bleed, and with the damage being location specific, that's important. Sadly, the invisible referee doesn't allow for much, and unless you're in the right match type, one swing will end it by DQ.

Aftershock never really stood a chance. With the advances developers have made in this top selling genre in only a few years, a WWE title with no create-a-wrestler, career mode, or storyline feels outdated. The core gameplay doesn't do anything to advance N-Gage gaming in general, and to compare it to other wrestling games would set them all back a few years.

(** out of *****)

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