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Developer: Namco Bandai
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 3GS

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★½
Game Controls Rating: ★★★½☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★½
Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Alright, I’ll admit it from the start: I’m a bit of a closet wrestling nerd, to cut a long story short. But having not seriously played a wrestling game since my PlayStation 2 days, I was certainly keen to get my hands on Namco Bandai’s TNA Wrestling iMPACT.

When I did, this game did a grand job of scratching that certain itch. Many out there who are familiar with the bigger wrestling company WWE may be wondering what on earth TNA is, though. Well it stands for Total Non-stop Action, and don’t worry, it’s the current residence to well-known brawlers such as Kevin Nash, Sting and Jeff Hardy — all three of which feature in this game alongside the infamous Hulk Hogan and Ric Flair, so there’s no shortage of big names here.

The gameplay reminds me of the old WCW titles from the Nintendo 64 — much simpler than the current-gen counterparts on consoles. However, it does manage to squeeze in some more modern features such as three campaign modes (Heavyweight, X-Division and Tag Team) with integral storylines between the matches, online multiplayer and as a finishing touch the brief entrance scenes are accompanied by the wrestlers’ real entrance music.

A great job’s been done to keep the on-screen buttons as unobtrusive as possible, by slighty alternating the functions dependent on the situation a player is in — using a more suited, slow and methodical gameplay instead of being a button-bashing beat ‘em up. What appears to be very short, pre-rendered visuals being triggered during several situations. Leaving the player to observe for a second or two before making their next move: it means many manoeuvres look the same every time, but provides slightly nicer looks and a better framerate than the real-time stuff. Therefore, ensuring the big moves look as hard-hitting and heavy-handed as they deserve to.

My only real complaint here — and it’s something that can be ignored completely — is the way the game teases you into installing free versions of the developers’ other apps to earn ‘TNA points’. These can be used unlock special in-game items such as the classic, ‘red and yellow’ Hulk Hogan. While there’s nothing forcing anybody to take advantage of this, I find it a little frustrating when app developers do these things. It causes anybody who doesn’t run off and install a bunch of apps they don’t want to feel as though they’ve gotten less for the five dollars.

With everything on offer in TNA Wrestling iMPACT, though, wrestling fans certainly get a fair bit for their money. Create-a-character, Game Center achievements and many match types — including the ‘No DQ’ face-offs with the occasional baseball bat — are all things that will certainly increase this game’s longevity. A very good example of how what’s now become a very complex genre, can be efficiently minimised to work on a handheld, touch-screen gaming platform without feeling too out of place. Although I’d not recommend it to a more casual type of gamer, previous experience is certainly helpful in this position. Despite The Hulkster’s attempts to show me the ropes (I went there) at the the beginning of the campaign modes.


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