As a kid brought up in the UK, I always had to wait to go to my grandparents in London to watch anything American wrestling related on Sky. At home in Woking, we were limited to just the four terrestrial channels (yes kids, FOUR) and this meant being limited to wrestling on LWT on a Saturday lunchtime. The “greats” such as Big Daddy and Giant Haystacks, although completely over and hated by the crowd respectively were never ever going to win any athletic contests.
The American wrestling always seemed to have a much higher production value, from dual screens with action taking place in one half whilst Bobby Heenan informs you of what “Ravishing” Rick Rude is going to do to the Ultimate Warrior at the next big event in the other half. I was hooked instantly and although I have grown out of watching wrestling now, I do still enjoy the yearly WWE franchise (enjoy, being used very loosely here thanks to the last few year’s releases).
As a side note, I’m a huge fan of sports simulation. I was a fan of Football Manager when it was a Championship alongside a few others. In-depth sports management appeals to the excel geek in me. I enjoy crunching the numbers of utilising one player over another in a set play etc. That in mind, however, I have never ever come across a wrestling management simulator. So how does it feel to sit in the throne of Vince McMahon or Triple H and hiring/firing talent, creating championships, tag teams, stables, feuds, contract negotiations, creating tv shows and pay per views?
Well, Total Extreme Wrestling allows you to do this and the simplest way to explain it is – Remember how daunting it all sounded at the end of that last paragraph? Well multiple that by 100. If you are a newcomer to the series then multiply that amount by a nth amount. Apparently – after looking online – the developer has made “great strides in addressing the issue of being newcomer friendly”. If that’s the case then fuck me sideways I want no part of any previous versions. It took me twenty minutes of staring at game menus and 10 minutes of googling before I could work out how to advance to the next day. Once I did that my personal assistant decided to screw the assist part of her job title and tell me four things needed fixing with absolutely no hint of how to fix said problems or why they went wrong in the first place.
After spending a couple of days reading online, this is very a fan forum assistance required game for a newcomer, and reading the in-game manual; I had managed to tweak the setting enough to get a game I could manage but also be standard enough that I could truly experience what the game could offer.
A great part of the game is setting aims for each matchup. You can tailor the shows to send the fans on a roller-coaster of a ride for each event. You can start out by the talent setting the story out before going hell for leather at each other before giving the crowd a little breather and get the hype up for the big finale or a once in a lifetime style match-up as your main event.
Once you begin to understand your talent and how your fans react to certain things such as gimmicks or story-lines then Total Extreme Wrestling 2016 has it’s hooks in you and you will be constantly tweaking your talents gimmicks (or overhauling them completely) trying to poach the big superstar from other promotions to create dream match-ups, creating alliances with other promotions to put on super events.
This is also not a title for a quick 5 minute fix to spice up your life; instead more suited to a cerebral gamer. Put simply if you are fan of studying excel sheets and statistics so that you can improve your performance in a game by 0.25% then Total Extreme Wrestling 2016 is the title for you.
In summary, when I first installed Total Extreme Wrestling, I was looking forward to it and then hit the pain of trying to understand it, and at many moments in time I would have been happy to have never seen this game again. Once it finally clicked with me, I was fully into the game which is a solid simulation title with deep and very meaningful actions and results. The UI needs an overhaul to take it away from the feeling of an eighties text adventure and bring it to a new generation of gamers. Seeing the “sport” of wrestling through the eyes of a businessman rather than a musclebound spandex aficionado is strangely appealing and I’m hoping that in time, much like its real life WWE counterpart, a worthy rival will come along to push both its appeal and its end product development further. After all competition can only be a good thing…..Unless he is trying to steal my top guy of course.
Midlife Gamer Rating: 7/10 Format: PC Release Date: Out Now
Disclosure: Midlife Gamer were provided a copy of Total Extreme Wrestling 2016 by the publisher for review purposes. The title was reviewed over the course of two weeks. For more information on what our scores mean, plus details of our reviews policy, click here.