People seemed to enjoy my write up of WCW vs the World. As such, I thought that this week, I would see what was going on with the competition. This was something that we as fans would do on TV every week as part of the “Monday Night War,” switching the channels back and forth, seeing what WCW and the WWF were doing. I’m contractually obligated to myself to constantly shit-talk the Fed at any given opportunity, so I’ll go ahead and say that WCW stomped their asses as far as I was concerned; anything that didn’t involve Stone Cold Steve Austin fucking sucked, especially the constant segments where the women’s division would cut terrible promos and then take their clothes off the literal second your parents walked into the room. I would also criticize the racism and homophobia, but unfortunately, WCW had that too (though WCW never had the Nation of Domination (more on that later) or Kaientai), so nobody is free of sin here.
I feel like I was really harsh on WCW vs the World. This is because I really wanted to love it. Despite the faults of the company, on-screen and off, WCW fucking rules. It was disappointing when they fucked up, because you knew that they were capable of so much better. I carried this mindset over into their games, because I should reiterate that the devs behind WCW vs the World went on to make the best wrestling games of all time that weren’t Fire Pro. I was also disappointed because that meant that at some point, I would have to replay WWF Warzone to see just how much worse a wrestling game could be. Good God Almighty, it can get so much worse.
WWF Warzone is a bit of a milestone, in that it’s the first fully-3D WWF game. Not the first fully-3D wrestling game, something I’m surprised hasn’t been claimed, given the Fed’s love of revisionist history. WCW beat them to the punch two years before, and New Japan Pro Wrestling beat them both to it a year prior with Toukon Retsuden, a game that outclasses the two games I’m mentioning here, and outclasses most wrestling games made since. Guess I’ll have to review that one too, huh? In any case, Warzone also represented a change: no longer were WWF games these mindless button-mashers where you blistered your thumbs to pull off a basic suplex. Now they were becoming more “sim-like,” in that they were strategic and more methodical. In practice, it’s slow and boring and matches take way too long to play through. The game has sluggish movement, with awkward animations and bad controls. Warzone is a miserable game to play.
A big issue is that moves are done Street Fighter style, with multiple direction inputs. Not a problem in a fighting game, but definitely a problem in a game where commands are more of a suggestion and you can move in multiple directions, leading to lots of accidental inputs that will get blocked and countered. Unlike a fighting game, where characters have less than a handful of moves each, the WWF Superstars have these long movelists full of things you can do on accident.
Normally, in a wrestling game, you have your strikes that can be done in a neutral position, then you and your opponent lock up in a collar-and-elbow, where you can then do your suplexes and slams. Not here. You can simply throw your opponent around from anywhere in the ring, so long as they don’t press the block button or slightly move away from you. There is a lock up, which strangely has less moves you can do from that position. To the game’s credit, you do get penalized for spamming the same move over and over, but it doesn’t matter when you can switch off between your two most damaging suplexes until you get a three count. This game is not fun. This slow ass game that plays like shit, is not rewarding in the slightest, with these ugly character models that barely animate, leading to situations where Stone Cold punches you with the tips of his fingers. There were Playstation games in 1995 that had animated hands, this came out in 1998
I’m going on about how to play the game, because there is not much else to it. There’s little variety to the match types, which all play similarly to each other, even the cage match. Wrestlers all play the same, with only their appearances to differentiate them. The “career” mode is boring and the only highlight are the poorly done cutscenes. Wrestler entrances, a big part of what makes wrestling so special, are limited to said career mode, and last all of maybe five seconds. Finishing moves are a ridiculous input combination that the game never tells you how to do. You can’t even pick your own opponent! Would you like to recreate the Wrestlemania XIV main event of Steve Austin vs Shawn Michaels? Well then you better get lucky and hope the CPU picks one of them! Wrestling games are a lot like a kid playing with Star Wars toys, in that they are about changing the outcome of classic matches, or coming up with your own dream match, and Warzone takes that option away from you. WWF Warzone is an ugly, slow, horrible shitshow to play that also acts as a digital representation of 1997 WWF, a period of time where that company legitimately nearly died from being so fucking terrible. You should not play it.
That being said, I did spend a lot of time playing this when I was in middle school. At least, I spent around eight months playing it before the sequel, WWF Attitude, came out. There is only one reason why I did: Create A Wrestler. Now, Warzone is not the first wrestling game to feature the ability to create your character; Fire Pro Wrestling 3 on the PC-Engine was already doing this, but it was the first time this was featured in an international game. Unless you were hip to the import scene, you had no clue that there were games that let you make your own wrestlers, so this was a big deal at the time. You could put aside the multitude of issues Warzone had, so long as you were still given an opportunity to let your imagination run wild.
Looking back, I have to wonder just what the fuck I was thinking. Like the rest of the game, the character creator sucks. Your options are extremely limited if you want to make something cool. Your options are nonexistent if you want to make wrestlers from WCW or ECW. However, if you want to make some ludicrous freak straight out of a Saints Row cutscene, Acclaim has you covered.
You can make your fucked up little freak, then give them a premade movelist from the game’s roster, a three second theme song, and a name. So I made this blue asshole with Jeff Jarrett’s shirt, and some leather pants.
Say hello to Dumbfuck “Bitch Boy” Oregano.
Now, despite the fact that he is clearly blue, he suddenly turns purple once you enter the ring.
Anyways, this game sucks. Fuck the Fed. At least it gave us Fun With Ahmed.