TNA Impact!: Cross The Line Review (PSP)

Game Review: TNA Impact!: Cross The Line
Release: June 25, 2010
Genre: Wrestling
Developer: SouthPeak Games
Available Platforms: Sony PSP and Nintendo DS
Players: 2
MSRP: $29.99
ESRB Rating: T

TNA Impact!: Cross The Line brings your real-life wrestlers to the handheld arena, pitting them against each other in fights. Outside of the icons such as Sting, you play through a story mode as Suicide, a wrestler who was once at the top of his game. Due to some backstage shenanigans, he’s been shipped off to Tijuana and has to fight his way back up the ranks. If you want sweaty half-dressed men trying to pin each other all day, this is the game for you.

The concept of the game is simple, in that it’s wrestling. Two or more people fight each other (and use the term “fight” loosely, as the televised show that this is based off of is more soap opera than Street Fighter) until one is beaten enough that he can be pinned. The game replicates that with it’s four main attacks: punch, kick, grapple, and context-sensitive action (grab a chair, climb the ring, etc.).

The game has handfuls of different modes to fight in, but mostly all boil down to fighting until submission. The differing modes just decide how many people are in the ring, or where submissions can be made, or if weapons are involved. All of these could honestly be handled in a “Match Options” menu, instead of trying to make them seem like fully different modes. Ultimate X offers a race to a hanging X, but that’s about the only difference.

The game gets the licenses down, with actual wrestlers sprinkled throughout the menus. The Suicide story mode offers an entertaining trip through the world of TNA (and Mexico, oddly enough), and is scripted enough to be a believable TNA plotline, despite the fact he looks like a scrapped Carnage outfit from a Spider-Man game. Undoubtedly, the game is polished enough to exist as a licensed title for a wrestling franchise. Arguably, it’s the adherence to the reality of the “sport” is what kills it, and shows why such franchises as Fire Pro Wrestling or Ultimate Muscle were entertaining.

No matter how many game modes or wrestlers the title offers, the worst offense is an integral one: the gameplay is straight-out boring. There’s a reason titles like NBA Jam and NFL Blitz increase the entertainment value by turbos and bone-breaking maneuvers that humans can’t normally pull off, and that’s because their respective sports are mind-numbingly dull and repetitive. If you consider wrestling a sport, imagine it as two guys punching and kicking each other, slowly, until one climbs up on the turnbuckle and jumps at the other… all with the goal of submission.

The audio offers nothing special (no music, but commentators are entertaining the first few times), but functions. The graphics on the other hand show that the PSP is not much more or less than a PlayStation 2, and therefore hardware that’s effectively a decade old. While the actual wrestlers are modeled well and are identifiable (and have actual photos when appropriate, such as on the character select screen), the fictional ones are pastiches of horrid color schemes and weak renders; they stand out as “don’t exist in real life”. It’d be one thing if they just hired stand-ins and dressed them up, since they then would look like they belong in the same game as the actual wrestlers. What it ends up with is a weird schism, like seeing Mike Tyson stand alongside Glass Joe; sure, it’s happened, but Tyson looked too real and Glass Joe looked too cartoony. Additionally, the rings are bland and generic, with the spectators being nothing more than 2D cutouts, like the Street Fighter II onlookers.

TNA Impact!: Cross The Line just won’t satiate anyone but the hardcore wrestling fans, and even then, it’ll be for the adherence to the brand. The gameplay is slow and shallow, and outside of a story mode, it’s nothing but show. Fighting game fanatics have tons of other, quicker and more varied, fighters out there, and even wrestling fans have seen better games. Tap this one out.

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