ECW Anarchy Rulz
Developer: Acclaim Studios Austin
Capabilities: Dual Analog, Memory Card & Multi-Tap Compatible
Review Written: April 12, 2001
Acclaim is back, which is most likely their last wrestling game ever. After losing there license for WWF games back in 2000, Acclaim acquired the rights to make games under the ECW license. In February 2000, they released Hardcore Revolution to not that much of success, because it used the same, crappy, wrestling engine that WWF Attitude and Warzone used. And for this game, Anarchy Rulz, it uses the same exact move system again, but on the back of the case, it says, Improved Control System. This game was published in October 2000, and ECWs last wrestling card was in January 2001, and the company recently filed for bankruptcy in April the same year, so will Acclaims most likely, last grappler go out with a bang? Lets get onto the review and find out.
These visuals are about 90% identical as ECW Hardcore Revolution. All the wrestlers look great, and just like the real thing. All are extremely (no pun intended) detailed, and you can make out all the logos on all the shirts, and all the little details on the faces of the wrestlers. The ring and arenas look great, and several new arenas available to choose from, plus you can create your own. The in-ring entrances are back, and look pretty damn good, and resemble the real life in ring entrances. The create a wrestler is back, and has tons of new skins, shirts, pants, designs, and just about anything else you can slab on a wrestler. The game has a great opening FMV showing you how various clips of ECW action, and doing a great job at getting you hyped up for the game. I ran both enhanced and non-enhanced graphics on the PS2, and there really isnt that much of a difference, except for the wrestlers themselves for looking a tad shinier. The new backstage arenas you brawl look ok, but no where near as good as the ones in Wrestlemania 2000 and Backstage Assault. Each wrestler has their own bio screen, which gives you some info on all the wrestlers in the game, which is a nice touch. The animation for this game is also really good as well, as all the moves pulled off, look just the way they do off tv.
The games menus are the easiest to navigate of most wrestling games, heck, even their revolutionary create-a-wrestler is far better, and less complex than the edit modes Ive seen in Smackdown, Backstage Assault, and No Mercy. The game does have shortcomings in the graphics department, like there is almost no change at all from the visuals by comparing them to last years Hardcore Revolution. All you see here is slightly shinier wrestler models and arenas, some new moves, and the addition of special arenas to brawl in. But the games worst part about the visuals is the collision detection, it still remains unchanged from Warzone, where you can connect with dropkicks from across the ring, trust me this does get annoying right away.
Another strong point in the game. Each wrestler has their own sets of actual voice samples in the game, delivering pre-match threats to each other, sounds cool and all, but after listening to them talk trash, youll wonder if it was really these wrestlers actually talking because of the poor sound quality of them. The game also features the traditional team of 2-man commentary, this time its Joel Gertner and Joey Styles I believe, and they do a terrific job at delivering commentary, and actually call out moves this time, unlike in previous Acclaim outings, and it takes a good deal of playing before you realize their commentary starts to repeat. A big complaint from last years Hardcore Revolution was that their was no authentic wrestling music, just made up generic stuff from Acclaim, well, you see, most of the ECW wrestlers get popular songs from Rock n Roll, and Hard Rock bands, and ECW has to pay a fee to play them in arenas. Now Acclaim would have to pay fees to have each individual song for each wrestler in the game(about 50 all together), and it would end up costing them lots of money (to get a small taste of the ECW wrestlers music, I suggest buying 1 or both of the 2 ECW Soundtracks out now, theyre some of the best Rock collections on Earth) So they made up most of the wrestling tunes in the game, they do the same here, but actually bothered shelling out the fees to get the licenses from bands like Dope and One Minute Silence, and so you get Rhinos and a handful of others actual tunes in the game, but most of the generic rock music for entrance music is still here, and it doesnt sound that bad all together.
This is where the game gets ugly, the All New Control System on the back of the label is completely false. The game uses the same button combination move system it did since Warzone, and the button combinations are even more unresponsive than before. Like, you have to press, up, left, X, to do a medium damage move, and up, right, down, to do a high damage move, and you have to be in the right position to do the move, and by the time you finally press the right button combination, the computer has already done a move on you. This is how controls are for the most part in Anarchy Rulz, and man does it get annoying. On the bright side, you can adapt to these controls, but after hours on end of this hell will it only happen, I remember I did it with Warzone, and Attitude, but didnt even bother with Hardcore Revolution, and after playing No Mercy and Backstage Assault forever, it still is getting hard for me to adapt to this games control scheme. Of course, you can customize the controls as well, but that wont help out that much in the long run. After each match though, you get nice pie graphs of the moves breakdown in the match with various percentages, cool the first time around, but youll be quickly skipping it soon there after.
The game has just loads of game modes, and I think Acclaim knew this was going to be their last wrestling game, so they went all out in the long run. Besides the standard singles, cage, tag team, and handicap matches we also got the traditional ECW Barb Wire match, plus we add in some more wacky matches that favor ECW, like the Table match, where tables surround the ring and are used for extra punishment, plus the hate match mode is here, which is basically a Gauntlet match in WWF games. The game even has special elimination type of matches, like Stable mode, where 4 teams of 4 wrestlers go at it, and Tornado, where 2 tag teams fight in the ring simultaneously and try to eliminate the whole team first. You also got Battle Royal and Team Rumble matches. Heck, there are also all those win modifiers too like First Blood, First to Perform Finisher, and Iron Man. Plus there are brand new modes which have never before seen in ECW, and rarely seen in pro wrestling itself, like the Brimstone match, where whoever tosses your opponent outside to broiling Brimstones and light them on fire is the winner. And then theres the awkward Rage in the Cage match, which is basically a regular match in a UFC-type Octagon of all places. Oh, and dont forget about the single player Career mode where you can guide your own wrestler, tag team, and now stables on the road too the top of ECW by rising through the ranks of a rookie appearing mostly on House shows and rare appearances on Hardcore TV to a superstar with only appearances on the now defunct ECW on TNN show, and PPVs. Hopefully gamers will be able to get over the control problems to test out all these great modes of play.
The career mode will definitely keep the lonely gamer at home plenty of hours of gaming by guiding his teams through the ranks of ECW. The game has a couple dozen of wrestlers to unlock, so youll be playing for a while to make sure you can unlock them all. Plus lonely players can also experiment with the dozens of game modes Anarchy Rulz has to offer. Also a wrestling game from Acclaim wouldnt be one without its great customizable features, like its standout Create-a-Wrestler, plus Create-a-PPV, and now, Create-a-Stable where you pair up 4 wrestlers into a faction (like DX or nWo for example) and give them their own theme music and everything. But if youre one who only wants easy to play games, then all these extras wont matter to you because of the games crappy control system.
+: Great commentary, lots of ways to play, lots of customization with creating wrestlers, ppvs, and stables, great to see some actual tunes this time around
-: The crappiest control engine ever, minimum change in audio and visuals, Acclaims series is really showing its age
The Final Ratings Rundown
Game play: 3.2
Replay Value: 6.1
Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 6
A nice, last ditch effort by Acclaim. Its just a damn shame it uses the same crappy control scheme. But at least you can tell Acclaim tried to make up for it, by giving you lots, and lots of extra modes and customization, and it is nice seeing some licensed tunes in the game. The Playstation is a system thats not meant for wrestling games, because its controller sucks for it, all the shoulder buttons make it even harder to get all the moves and such. Of about the 10-15 North American wrestling games, only Smackdown! and Smackdown! 2: Know your Role, are the main successes, and I dont even recommend them. This may surprise you, but my favorite wrestling game on the PSX, is actually WCW Mayhem. This game is pretty good, and if you are a ECW fan, you owe it to yourself to buy this game, especially when it can most likely be found for $30 and under now. If youre just the casual wrestling fan, however, make sure to rent this one first.
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