WWE Crush Hour
Developer: Pacific Coast Power & Light
Released: March 2003
Genre: Vehicle Combat
Capabilities: Memory Card Compatible
Review Written: April 14, 2003
When I first heard about WWE Crush Hour I wasn’t all that thrilled.
Heck, I didn’t even plan on buying the game. The idea of throwing the WWE
license on a car-combat game just didn’t fly with me, and didn’t seem worthy
enough of my hard-earned money. Then as the release of CH came closer a
couple of aspects about the title lured me into purchasing it. One, I actually
had a bit of respect for the developers, Pacific Coast Power & Light, who just
happened to develop one of my favorite N64 games, Road Rash 64. Secondly,
this game was going to be value-priced at only $20. So with those two ideas at
mind I reluctantly purchased Crush Hour and was expecting a haphazard
Twisted Metal clone slapped on with the WWE license. I was only half wrong
as the game wasn’t all that bad, and just a bit off from what could have been
A well-done CG sequence starts things off to give you a background about CH. The sequence shows how the WWE became so successful, that owner Vince McMahon now owns all the networks, and is putting WWE superstars in all programming. The latest entry being the vehicle combat show, Crush Hour. Simple enough story, and gets the job done to set the tone for game play.
There are 32 of what the back of the box dubs, “SuperCars” available. Only 23 are right there once you pop in Crush Hour for the first time, the other nine needs to be unlocked in season play. While the developers did a great job at offering a staggering amount of vehicles available that is superior than most other car-combat games out there, they did a poor job at matching up the type of vehicles with the WWE personalities. A few of them work well such as The Big Show driving a big rig, and The Undertaker cruising in his motorcycle, but after that it appears the developers gave up and just gave each superstar a random vehicle slapped on with some decals relating to each star to make up for it.
The developers picked such a well-working control set up that anybody should be able to learn them in minutes. All the regular staples you expect from this genre are readily available. Besides your standard machine gun, there is a range of special weapon pick ups available such as grenade launchers, and mines. Each vehicle also has its own special attack that mostly results in instant kills. They occur after a meter fills up during combat while you deal out and take damage, once it is topped off it can be unleashed.
The WWE license is applied in many facets of Crush Hour. From weapon names (The Atomic Drop) to the many modes of game play. When I first glazed at the plethora of modes of play available I was astonished. However, most of these modes are just slight alterations of other events held in different arenas, let alone do these modes live up to their name. The “RAW” and “Smackdown” modes is just four player free for alls. Tag Team play is poorly executed by having to drive over tag beacons to play as your partner. Some of the modes do incorporate some of the aspects of their WWE counterparts, such as the Cage match actually taking place in a cage, and the Ironman mode where whoever gets the most frags in a given time limit wins. There are some other modes which are plain out blasphemous, such as the Hardcore mode where players battle over the Hardcore title belt, whoever holds onto it for a specific amount of time without dying, wins. Some of these modes are no fun whatsoever. However, some are actually quite fun to play, and present a worthy challenge, one of them is called “Running the Gauntlet” where you have to collect a certain amount of stars to win, but you lose points from getting blown up by your foes.
The main way to play CH is Season mode. It is an 18-week course where I was practically competing in a new mode of play each and every week. This is where you unlock all the arenas and SuperCars. There are some charming moments as you chug along during the season where there will be CG sequences of the superstar you’re playing as in commercials and other skits. For example, I was playing as Kane and midway through my season a “Cooking with Kane” advertisement occurred where Kane blew himself up after cooking dynamite. While this stuff obviously isn’t top notch comedy, they are nice enough breaks from game play. I was disappointed I couldn’t access them after their initial viewing, it would’ve been fun to access these any time and show them to my buddies such as in Twisted Metal: Black.
The visuals are a bit of a mixed bag. On the plus side, the CG sequences are well done and are worth every second to come across in Season mode. Also, the presentation is spectacular as there somehow managed to be entrances in this game with about a ten second clip of each vehicle come out into the arena with their patented TitanTron highlights reel and theme music. Also, the effects for the special weapons and finishing attacks are well done with plenty of explosions and lighting effects that look remarkable! The actual in-game graphics of the vehicles and arenas are fairly decent, but pale in comparison to the year old Twisted Metal: Black. Heck, they are about a generation behind and seem to belong on the N64 with textures that can be so blurry and lack any crispness it’s scary. Thankfully, the poor quality of the in-game visuals keeps the frame rate at a fast pace with no slowdown being apparent at all.
The audio department also fluctuates. Having the themes for all superstars during their respective entrances is a great touch, except that just like Wrestlemania X8, several superstar’s themes are omitted and replaced with crummy generic sound-a-likes. While they don’t have as big of an impact as they did in the aforementioned title, it still doesn’t get away without notice. There is background music while you browse the menus in CH, but strangely there isn’t any background music at all during game play. Just the sound effects from the weapons firing and explosions that occurred are all I heard besides the commentary which I’ll touch on shortly. They could’ve at least had the entrance theme music playing in the background if they were too lazy to compose any, but I guess Crush Hour wants to live up to its budget title status. Surprisingly, there is commentary from Jim Ross, but it suffers the same fate as it did in Smackdown: Just Bring It where everything has long pauses like this:
Chris Jericho……..now has………..The Laser Guided Rockets!
Suffice to say, I immediately went to mute the commentary volume after a few bouts.
Unlocking all of the nine hidden vehicles will take a while to do so if you desire. There is the option to play any mode with a friend in two player, but it’s baffling why the developers didn’t include any support whatsoever beyond that. This could’ve been a terrific four player game. And it’s worth mentioning again you can’t manually access the CG commercials with a museum feature of some sort, you can only view them when running across them during season mode.
Game play: 8.1
Replay Value: 7.2
Just as I expected, Crush Hour didn’t turn out as the next Twisted Metal but I was dead wrong when I thought it would completely bomb. Shockingly, the game does show some promise, and if there was a little more effort involved here this could have been a real contender. CH is quite fun to play, and I can’t believe I’m saying this but I actually want to see a sequel to improve upon this title’s shortcomings. Even with its noticeable drawbacks, Crush Hour is definitely worth your $20.
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