Total Reviews: 2
Average Overall Score Given: 8.00000 / 10
Total Forum Posts: 27


Overall: WWF Raw has a fantastic wrestling engine which goes a long way towards making this game enjoyable. It looks and feels like you're in control of a WWF match from beginning to end and this is what wrestling games are supposed to give us. I was a huge fan of No Mercy and Wrestlemania 2000 on N64 and this feels like a huge next generation leap forward from those games in terms of gameplay. I'm not sure how Wrestlemania X8 is going to turn out on GameCube, but I know long time Nintendo/wrestling fans would definitely want something like Raw.
The lack of a true career mode hurts this game the same way it hurts sports games that merely pay lip service to this feature. I had lofty expectations for the first Xbox wrestling game and I wanted to see complicated, interactive, choose-your-own adventure type story modes. Even though I was being very unrealistic, it's still disappointing that Raw, with this Title Match Mode, does not even attempt any sort of true career/story mode.

With that said, Raw does a whole lot more good than bad, and it's still a game that Xbox owners need to pick up if they have even the slightest interest in the WWF. I'm not sure if there's such a thing as casual WWF/Xbox fan but Raw will appeal to them as well with its outstanding WWF realism. The hardcore fans will get plenty of enjoyment out of the difficult AI, the awesome multiplayer modes and the super deep Create-A-Wrestler mode.

Gameplay: Raw features a very refined grappling system that's much more fluid and responsive than any wrestling game to date. Furthermore all moves are limited by the amount of available "energy" your wrestler has at any given moment. So rather than a strong or weak grapple and a full complement of moves for each, your wrestler has one grapple and it's up to you to know if he or she has enough energy to pull off the move you want. Logically, simple moves out of a grapple like a slap or a chop to the chest don't require much energy. Bigger moves like a sidewalk slam or a stalling brainbuster take more juice and if your wrestler doesn't have it, the grapple will be broken by your opponent or even countered. This is a great innovation that forces players to strategize rather than just drop a dozen piledrivers on an enemy.

Everything you do uses energy in Raw and you'll see the bar moving back and forth near his or her feet. The variety of striking moves you have at your disposal use up a little energy. Running by double tapping on the D-pad or leaning the left analog stick uses energy. Picking up a table and swinging it takes way more energy than picking up a sledgehammer and swinging it at somebody. You can swing a chair until your wrestler runs out of energy, usually 5 or 6 blows, and then he'll drop it. Energy replenishes in less than one second as soon as you stop moving and give your guy a chance to recover.

The box at the end of your energy meter functions as a health indicator too, but you'll only notice it when you're taking a beating. The faster it blinks the more vulnerable you are to a pin or submission attempt. You want that box to stay solid and not blinking at all.

Raw does a brilliant job of incorporating the crowd into the play mechanic. No you can't fight in the crowd but the crowd approval meter at the bottom of the screen is just as significant. Through out the ups and downs of the match the colored bars matching the colors of the different wrestlers will grow or shrink in relation to how the crowd feels about you. You cannot pin somebody that the crowd likes. Charismatic wrestlers like The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin pretty much have the crowd behind them no matter what, so it takes one hell of a beat down to pin those two. Snore kings like Steve Blackman rarely get much crowd support. The key is getting the crowd behind you by executing a variety of moves and attacks and building their excitement level until your crowd meter starts to flash. This is when you can pull of your signature move and really send them through the roof. If the crowd is behind you and the other guy's health box is blinking you're ready to get the pin. But for you sadistic sickos out there, the crowd will turn on you and start rooting for the other guy if you over do it and keep beating the crap out of a guy when he's already "pinnable."

The item system in Raw might be the best innovation in the genre. During any match there are chairs behind the announcers table (even though there are no announcers) and other items like tables and ladders strewn about the ramp area or around the ring. All of these can be picked up and used offensively or used conventionally. That is, you can pick up a chair and smash a skull with it or simply unfold it and put it down for somebody to sit on. You can use a table or ladder in the same way. But there are also as many as six black trunks around the ring and ramp area that will have items in them. Everything from microphones to foam fingers to spiked dog collars to sunglasses to bazookas can be found in these trunks and used as weapons. Hats and pineapples don't do as much damage as steel pipes and scales but they're all usable. Also the obvious items can be used conventionally and worn by the wrestler. So if you bust open a trunk with Trish Stratus and pick up the chef's hat in there using the B-action button you can have her put the hat on her head and wear it during the rest of the match by hitting B again.

Graphics: The level of detail in Raw begins with the wrestlers themselves. Every scar, every tattoo and !&%$@#* near every hair out of place has been re-created on the Xbox. You can clearly see the reflective shine on Undertaker's leather pants, or Chris Benoit's snaggled tooth, or Rikishi's jiggling cellulite or that new tattoo on the back of the Big Show's neck whether it's during their intro or during a match. The lighting effects are subtle but they work well. Remember WWF Raw is lit for the TV cameras so everything should look the same pretty much from every angle.

The camera work is and underrated feature in this game. During one on one matches the camera will often cut from it's 3/4 view above the ring to a more dramatic angle to better capture the action. It's all done seamlessly and you'll never get disoriented coming into or out of the 2 second shot. The camera work is simplified for the 3 and 4 wrestler matches. The camera cuts on wrestler intros makes the whole thing look like it's a TNN broadcast as the wrestler's go about their routines on their way to the ring. Some intros even have different camera moves each time you run them.

But the overwhelming strength of Raw's wrestling animation is what carries this game. The Rock moves with all of the attitude of The Great One. From his moves to his taunts to his ring entrance, The Rock is animated consistently as the TV personality. In fact many of the moves in CAW are named after WWF Superstars because they're that unique and that recognizable. The Bubba Ray punch looks nothing like Kane's uppercut and each move has its specific timing and speed. It's all of the transitions from one move or animation to the other that really make this game so authentic. You never see a guy hop from one animation to another. If you want to follow up that left hook with a chop, you're going to have to wait for Jericho to reset himself before he can throw the next move.

You'll especially like some of the facial animations. Even created wrestlers will contort their faces and grimace in pain. But the coolest is how some of the superstars will be moving their lips as they come down the ramp during their intros or during their special moves. You can almost hear Bubba Ray telling D-Von to "get the table!" when he makes his two armed gesture.

A smaller guy like Spike Dudley is extremely quick and looks undersized when he goes to pick up somebody like Test, who's damn near a foot taller than him. The models may not be in proportion but it's good to see a wide variety of body shapes and sizes and animations that are consistent with those shapes and sizes. Rikishi is a lumbering oaf who runs out of energy very quickly in Raw but he has a lot of power in his moves. The Hardy Boyz always have the energy they need to pull of a high risk move but they can't take much punishment from opponents because they seem to wear themselves out.

Audio: The sound quality in Raw is evident in the wrestler intros. Just turn on your surround sound system and listen to the gong and the "dead man walkin'" during 'Takers entrance. You can even hear his motorcycle start up and rev as he comes down the ramp. All of the WWF Superstar themes are of the highest quality and faithfully reproduced in this game.

The background music during matches isn't very endearing but it's hard to think of a song that would sound good in a wrestling match than can take anywhere from 1 to 30 minutes. Some of the menu music gets a little freaky though with all of the subliminal echo-ey samples.

The sound effects of the weapons are well done. The metal objects ping and gong when they smash into an opponent and everything else makes the appropriate thud or thump when it comes into contact with something. The crowd reactions are right in time with the crowd meter but a better "boo" sound effect will be in order next time around.

We already mentioned the absence of the custom soundtrack feature but it's worth repeating here. A WWF game simply demands this Xbox only feature because it's the kind of thing wrestling gamers have wanted to do for a long time. Think of how Microsoft, the WWF and THQ could cross-promote a new WWF CD with all of the new themes the wrestlers are sure to have next year.

"The game was supposed to be a launch title but we didn't have all of the information about the Xbox's capabilities. So we weren't even able to use all of the features of the hardware for this game like we wanted to. But we'll definitely be ready for the next version of the game," adds Masahiro Onoguchi.

We'll be sure to let Anchor know that we have to have wrestler voices in the next Xbox wrestling game too. It's another case where they look like they want to speak so therefore they should.

Suggestions: Just make lots more types of matches in the next one. And also try to put in a good single player season mode.

Overall Score: 8.0 / 10 Dark Summit

Overall: Dark Summit's a unique take on the snowboarding genre, and has some great ideas, not to mention some original gameplay. The overall package just lacks a certain depth that keeps this game from really staying with you, and from challenging you, especially as you get farther in the game. There's a lot of hinting and touching on the additional features that would have made this game even more interesting, like character building, more unique equipment, or variable difficulties on goals, but they're never truly implemented into the final product.
Radical's done a great job of thinking outside of the boundaries when it comes to snowboarding games, and hopefully the next installment of the Dark Summit franchise will deliver the layers and depth that can truly make this game shine.

Gameplay: You start on the lower mountain, finding and conquering short goals to gain lift points to get higher and higher on the mountain, discovering the keys to getting your frozen butt to the dark side of Mt. Garrick. At the same time you'll want to pull off tricks as often as possible, as they'll give you experience points that you can use towards getting new boards and new outfits. The mountain is massive, with tons of shortcuts that gain you access to experience point bonuses, new tricks, and the mission booths you'll need to get you precious lift points. While you're not picking and choosing your mission at the start of a level, you can choose which goals to head to on the mountain, and whether or not to use them -- thankfully, Radical Entertainment has also included a Restart Mission command so that you can keep retrying a specific mission without having to board down the entire mountain to find it again.

The game gives you a variety of tasks, from chasing specific characters, racing away from rangers and other no-gooders (that's the closest the game gets to actual racing), to trick and environment based challenges. Can you pull off a 3x, 4x and 5x combo in order, using the terrain park? How about finding the cave that Ranger Rick is hiding out in? Maybe you'd rather just launch the big gun and run away from a huge avalanche... in Dark Summit, it's free form, but still very goal-based. You're never trying to just hit score totals to get to another level -- you're exploring, finding goals, and winning in order to unlock special sections of the game, and ultimately get that O'Leary, and good.

Controls are simpler than most snowboarding games -- Naya adjust to the terrain as she lands, so you just have to focus on getting her upright. She grinds on rails like glue, and you'll be hard pressed to make her fall off them once you've got her locked on. Pulling off tricks is as easy as pie. Tricks are broken down by a grind button, a grab button, and a handplant button that's only used in halfpipes. You can tweak tricks with the triggers, and there's a selection of special tricks at your disposal by doing key combinations. The cool gimmick in Dark Summit, however, is that you only get new tricks by finding them on the mountain, hidden at the end of remote grind rails, or high off of jumps. If you want to do some of the more elaborate tricks in the game, you'll have to do some exploring.

If there's a fault to the game, it's that it hints at a more complex experience, but never really delivers. There are only four boards to unlock, and it's unclear how they affect how your play, other than that they're of a general "better faster more" design. You'll always auto-adjust to face the ground correctly, so while doing tricks is fun, it's a little too easy to feel like a constant challenge. Also, because you're unlocking equipment through totals, not through specific trick bonuses, you're actually rewarded for playing badly and having to repeat the game's missions, as that means you'll be racking up more points as you repeat combos and tricks. The developers have chosen to put the challenge in the individual goals that you uncover rather than structure the whole game around a certain skill level, but it would have been nice to have had a bit of both.

Once you've gotten the hang of the game, you'll find yourself breezing through it faster than you expect -- it's not a short game by any means, but since replay value isn't the same as a racer or a trick-based game (you'll find yourself replaying specific missions, but rarely entire levels), it doesn't have the same limitless appeal of many games of this type.

Graphics: The characters look great in-game, and animations for the tricks are completely unrealistic and fun to watch, fitting in with the mood of the game completely. There's a mixture of natural and manmade environmental design going on in the way that levels are built, making the mountain itself a great place to visit, even if you'd rather not live there among the mines and the atomic -- never mind. Spray painted logos spatter over the ice, and huge pylons and rafters, chunks of cement and destroyed structures pepper the view, most of which you can grind, jump over, or race through. The physics for objects in the game are the most impressive factor. Hit a snowman, and his parts will tumble down the hill alongside you, depending on how hard you've hit them, and the slope of the mountain. Giant signs will explode and scrape down the hill as you bust through them, and electrified fences will smash open as you rush through them -- it's all done very well, with the realistic physics adding an extra gravy sauce over the meaty destruction.

The down side to all of this is that there's some serious draw in going on with major objects, and if you peek up beyond what's directly in front of you, you'll catch buildings popping in piece by piece as you approach, sometimes right over your head. Sadly, as you get faster boards in the game you'll find the draw in becoming more apparent, since you're approaching objects at much faster speeds. There are some framerate issues as well -- while the game generally keeps to 30fps, you'll find that it starts to chunk down, or stutter much too often while you're playing. It's never bad enough to affect gameplay, but it's definitely noticeable, and at times, annoying.

Audio: I'm still impressed with the soundtrack for the game -- while it's not hugely varied, it's filled with enough depth to hook you in. Maybe I'm just a junky for Drum n' Bass, but I loved the music choices for the game, and appreciated how the music would chime in, depending on what you were doing, or the stress of the mission you were on. The electronic touch also lends itself to the trick sounds, which have a keyboard chirp sound that's the ultimate pat on the back for pulling off insane combos. Voices in the game are pretty solid, still in the world of "this rocks, dude!" but not quite cheery enough to get annoying. The talking is kept pretty slim from the main characters, which is welcome, and most voices are passing skiers and rangers, who are actually pretty funny. I never tired of hearing a ranger chide "broken bones never heal!" when I raced by him at high speeds.

Suggestions: Maybe spend more time making the enviornments a bit better like amped's amazing hills. Also try to make the goals a bit more interesting maybe...... AND PLEASE GET BETTER MUSIC IN THERE!

Overall Score: 8.0 / 10

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