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WCW Backstage Assault | review | game | Lollipop

WCW Backstage Assault

(EA for the PlayStation)
by Shane Yeager

Have you ever had that primal urge to pick up whatever's lying around and beat someone with it? WCW Backstage Assault may be for you. Run from the locker room to the broadcast booth to the women's bathroom in search of weapons like cattle prods and trash cans in your quest to gain the championship. Choose from the most popular stars of World Championship Wrestling to do your dirty work, each with his (or her) own set of signature wrestling moves, from Goldberg's Jackhammer to Ric Flair's Figure Four. If none of the standard stars of the WCW has the right combination of attitude and effectiveness, create your own star, with details right down to where he's tattooed and pierced! Players can face off 1-on-1, or try to win one of three different WCW title belts: The Hardcore Championship, the US Championship, or the coveted WCW World Championship. The truly masochistic can try to run the Hardcore Gauntlet, where your wrestler must face seven WCW stars in a row without rest.

This is EA's second wrestling game (following WCW Mayhem), and like many of the EA sports titles, its best gameplay is in two-player mode. Whether you use the regular rules or prefer the more vicious First Blood (winner makes the other guy bleed) or Human Torch (set your opponent on fire to win) matches, the fluid movement of the characters and simulated impact of some of the weapons and maneuvers provide great moments. You may even find yourself cringing and holding your head after your wrestler has been smacked across the forehead with a payphone! The system is fairly standard for wrestling games, with individual buttons making your wrestler deliver punches and kicks before opponents get too close, and various wrestling holds once the wrestlers are grappling. After you've delivered a series of moves and attacks, you'll be able to perform a special "finishing" move specific to your wrestler. You only get a general sense of how tired your wrestler is based on the color of his name at the bottom of the screen and not the health bar familiar to fans of most arena-type fighting games. Learning the game system is quick and easy, so your quest for the championship shouldn't take too long.

While the game is exciting, fast-paced, and filled with opportunities for extreme violence, die-hard WCW fan may be disappointed by the graphics. Wrestlers are more recognized by their costume and signature moves than by the face of the polygons on the screen. You could barely tell Jeff Jarrett and Major Gunns apart if it weren't for her long blond hair. While the backstage theme is a decent change of pace from having each and every match in the wrestling ring, not having an option of going to the "squared circle" seems to detract from the game as a whole. It's cool that the women wrestlers don't get relegated to cheerleaders, but if you're going to have inter-gender matches in a great blow for equal rights, why not let the women wrestlers bleed like the men?

WCW fans probably shouldn't miss this, and players who want to release some testosterone by beating down people with a baseball bat will find WCW Backstage Assault just what the doctor ordered.

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