Reviewed: April 15, 2004
Released: March 31, 2004
Total Extreme Warfare (TEW) isn’t your typical wrestling experience. While far from “Smackdown:HCTP” and it’s ilk, it still has every right to be called a wrestling game. The difference is, you don’t play as a wrestler; you play as a booker (wrestle speak for the guy who runs things.) Think fighting off three guys in the ring is hard? Wait till you try juggling contracts, prima dona wrestlers, keeping things cool backstage, and booking a full television schedule (including PPV’s.)
This game was developed by .400 software studios known for their “sports business simulators.” Total Extreme Warfare is the wrestling version, but they have many other “takes” on sports. Football, Baseball, Basketball, you name it. Since professional wrestling is about 80% theatrics and 20% sport, they might have a hard time capturing the feel. So is TEW a champion, or a jobber. A couple of rounds “behind the curtain” quickly answer that question.
In TEW, you assume the role of the head booker. Basically, you’re in charge of everything involving wrestling that isn’t actually wrestling. The first thing you want to do is select what promotion you want to run. Promotions are chosen from a VERY diverse list, or you can make your own. Each promotion had a different focus. Be it a woman’s division, old-fashioned wrestling, theatrics, or hardcore.
You also have to recruit, and keep, talent. This can be done by hiring from a big pool of unemployed talent. Or you could try “buying out” a wrestler working for another company. There are a lot of options included for contract negotiations. You can include room and transportation, house shows, quite a bevy of options.
You are also responsible for setting up television shows for your chosen promotion. You can decide which days you want shows on, how long they should be, the frequency of when they reoccur (weekly, daily, etc.) You’re also allowed to choose what price to charge for admission, what goes on during the shows, the matches, the outcomes, etc.
The field is practically limitless, after combing my mind; I could only find a couple things I would’ve included. After the show is “aired” you can read through and see what the ratings where, the audience likes and dislikes, whether the audience liked certain gimmicks, etc. This comes in handy when you need to decide that you need to do to make the promotion better.
Each day is split into an AM and PM portion. The shows and such come during the PM part of the day. During the AM you are free to undertake the rest of your responsibilities, namely “talent.” You can have a booking committee comprised of people who work for you. You can go to them for advice on how/what you should be doing in regards to signing and promoting talent. You can also get the wrestler’s opinions on what is being done with their exposure, performance, push, and gimmick. This is a good way to see what they think and feel about their future.
Total Extreme Warfare is primarily text driven. The only “graphics” to speak of are the actual background, promotion logos, and wrestler pictures. You are allowed to import logos and wrestler pictures, which is good because the “stock pictures” they provide you with are sorely lacking. The actual graphics themselves are easy to read and relatively free of spelling errors.
The interface itself is serviceable. The game has such depth that you often have to go through menu upon menu to find what you need. It can be confusing at times, but once you learn it, it’s not unmanageable.
I did have a slight problem with the screen resolution, but updated my drivers seemed to fix the problem. Just make sure yours are up to date and you should be fine as well. The game also has two patches currently available if new drivers don’t fix the problem.
The game opens with a looping music clip and each screen is usually accompanied by similar musical interludes. The game isn’t much on sound. The gameplay doesn’t lend itself to really needing music. Looking at a screen with a wrestler and some statistics hardly screams for a kicking soundtrack.
That said, it’s nice music was included. Nothing special, no themes for the wrestler (not that they’d need them) but basic background music that is unobtrusive, as it should be. Music is not the strong suit in a game like this, and is best served as something that isn’t annoying or catchy. TEW fits this to a tee.
This game has an almost endless replay potential. You can alter almost everything about the experience. Want a harder challenge, choose a promotion with less mainstream appeal, or start with less money, or try a strictly woman promotion. Take a jobber and try to make him into the next star. The playing field can be altered at your leisure, while you’re always trying to make your promotion successful, you can still do so much more. So why limit yourself.
The game itself, available from TEW website, is only $34.95. For that price you get an incredible game. Don’t let yourself be turned off by the lack of normal “graphics.” The gameplay itself, the main reason you should be playing, is solid gold.
You can also rename, import, export, etc to suit the actual game world to your specifications. Want to reenact the WWF/WCW feud? See if you could accomplish what Vince did? It’s possible in this game.
The “bottom line” is that TEW is the best business side wrestling simulator I’ve ever experienced. Unfortunately, the game’s greatest strength, its depth, is also its biggest weakness. It’s a long road to finally understand and control it, but once you do, so many doors and avenues are open to you. If you’ve ever imagined doing something involving wrestling, odds are this game will allow you to fulfill them.
It’s graphics; though the game’s weakest leg, are not that important in a game like this. It harkens back to the day of the text-based game. At least here you get a snazzy interface. The only thing the game is really missing is actual wrestling. A game engine that would enact the matches, along with the deep business model, would quite possibly make this game touch perfection. As it is, TEW offers a comprehensive look into what goes on, and into, every wrestling event you see on TV.