American wrestling has always tried in vane to work as a video game concept and with the odd exception, normally fallen on its arse. It's strange because you would think, the crazy characters, the fighting moves and sheer entertainment of the event would transfer perfectly to the small screen and the console.
Wrestlemania 21 tries where others have failed. It features a host of exhibition matches, a career mode and at the centre of its offering online play and support.
With full Worldwide Wresting Entertainment (WWE) support you get to play lots of different WWE Superstars, like Rey Mysterio Jr., Big Show, Triple H, Stacy Keibler to name a few or even create your own Superstar.
Exhibition matches include everything from Bra and Panty, where you have to rip your girl opponents' clothes off to the classic Royal Rumble where its four men in the ring and a battle to the end.
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Career mode meanwhile sees you journey from a newbie wrestler trying to cut your teeth in the many WWE arenas such as Raw or Smackdown.
Online play then allows you to take all this online, create a Superstar and challenge friends over the internet to your hearts content.
All this sounds so promising, however in reality it's not. While the graphics are better than most, the game is littered with bugs and issues so once again Microsoft's legendary QA has taken a holiday, something that sunk Driver 3. The AI is either really good or really poor and with so many manoeuvres to learn (there are 11 pages to master) you never really know whether you are coming or going.
What makes it worse is that you are just expected to know what to do and how to play the game. No tutorial, no “How to” video, nothing. Even when you do work out that “y” is run, “b” is grapple and so on the characters rarely react how you expect them to.
Take a grudge match with tables for example. We got pinned down for 10 minutes unable to break the cycle of getting up and getting beaten down again, never getting enough time to actually block or run away. There is only so much you can take before the controller goes hurtling across the room.
Wrestlemania 21 sets out to be a good wrestling game, but just ends in frustration. The moves are either impossible to master, or just don't react when you want them to. The odd time you do get what you want you find that the hit detection system doesn't work. This is particularly obvious when you are performing a drop move on an opponent who is on the canvas. As you try to “body slam” them, there is a 50/50 chance you'll miss and then spend the next 10 seconds withering around on the floor while they get up and pummel you into submission.
If you like being frustrated sign up. If however, and we suspect you do, want to play a game that doesn't involve you having to wrestle your dog to vent your anger afterwards, leave this one on the shelf for some other mug to pick up.