For anyone willing to suspend their disbelief, the absurd, oddly homoerotic ballet of violence peddled by cable Johnny-come-lately TNA Impact! is delirious fun, and a worthwhile rival to the WWE and its arrogant sports entertainment monopoly. And while the first spin-off game is tainted by issues that stop it from becoming an instant console hit, the foundations are here for a wrestling game that, in its inevitable sequel, could take the charts by storm.
Unlike the fiddly action of most wrestling games where you need to memorise a myriad moves, Impact! uses simple punches and kicks that can be modified on the fly into stronger strikes or grapples, allowing players to layer attacks with simple button presses. And with the opportunity to reverse almost any attack if you’re fast enough – and beautifully realised wrestlers that convey the immense power of every strike – playing the game genuinely captures the feeling of being a greased-up bruiser with a bad hairstyle, Impact! in turn conveying the fun, visceral atmosphere tragically missing in other wrestling titles.
Sadly, though, the animation leaves a lot to be desired, with fists often clipping straight through opponents or sure-fire hits failing to make contact in the heat of battle. The way downed opponents recover so quickly is also at odds with the slow and steady pace normally associated with pro wrestling, and the lack of detail outside the ring itself removes some of the excitement and sense of occasion evident in recent WWE console outings.
Reviewed by David McComb