WCW Backstage Assault
"No Holds-Barred Brawling! 14 Playable Backstage Areas, including the new Semi-Trailer Area! Destroy your enemy faster with power-ups! New! First Blood Mode and Torch Matches! Over 50 WCW Superstars including the Women of the WCW! Use Your Environment as a Weapon!"
WCW didn't have the best track record with PS1 video games. Now, the N64 games are another story but the PS1 games; not so much. WCW vs The World is great and uses the "Fire Pro method" to pack in a lot of international wrestlers under various guises but it kinda went down hill from there. Then, EA came along and made WCW Mayhem which was a step in the right direction. You'd think that with one decent WCW game under their belt, EA could get their developers (Kodiak Interactive) to turn out a classic with the knowledge they learned the first time around. No, apparently not.
A lot of people give EA a hard time nowadays because of their use of micro transactions and other tactics in their current games. Aside from that, though, their games are still solid in my opinion. I honestly play EA's UFC 3 far more than any other game I own. Great game. Aside from their various sports series; EA released a lot of classics in the 16-bit era. Classics like Polterguy, the Road Rash series, the Wing Commander series, and Mutant League Football and Hockey.Somehow, they dropped the ball on this unorthodox attempt at a wrestling game, though.
I guess it's pretty obvious from the title that the theme for WCW Backstage Assault is assaulting your opponents backstage. That makes sense being that hardcore wrestling was at it's peak popularity point at the time. Most people's problem with this game is the fact that the action exclusively takes place backstage as in... there's not a single wrestling ring to be spotted in the entire game!
Not having a wrestling ring fetured in the game at all really kills off a lot of different match options like cage matches, ladder matches and even a standard tag team match. I guess they figured all the different backstage areas would adequately replace these types of matches, but no; a lot of people didn't seem to think so, myself included. Even with all the different stages, you're basically just playing the same type of match over and over with different "paint schemes" to look at.
There aren't any wrestler entrances on this game, but I guess that makes sense. It would be a little ridiculous having your theme music play and full pyro set-up going off while you're on the way to the Men's room to have your match. The game replaces standard entrances by just playing the various wrestlers' entrance video. We're starting to see now how not featuring a wrestling ring or even arena, for that matter, messes up a lot of standard features of a wrestling game.
The gameplay for this game isn't so hot either. I mean, the controls are pretty standard aand intuitive enough but it's glitchy at times. Also, some buttons are "multi-use" buttons so, at some point during a match, you may be trying to pick up a weapon but end up picking your opponent up off the ground instead. Sometimes, as you're picking up a weapon, your opponent seems to jump to their feet earlier than expected and bascially smack the weapon out of your hand before you can use it. There are just little things like this that make the game annoying to play at times.
The weapons featured in the game aren't that great, either, to be honest. There's not much variety and the gimmick gets old pretty quickly. You get more variety from the different backstage areas than you do from the weapons... and that's not saying much.
The graphics also seemed to have taken a step back from the previous EA WCW game. How often does a sequel to a video game look worse than it's predecessor? Imagine the massive backlash that would happen if Grand Theft Auto V had looked worse than GTA IV. People wouldn't accept it. Well, I guess people didn't really accept it here either, as this game only sold 200,000 copies and it's PlayStation 2 port was cancelled due to lack of interest.
Yet another complaint (one can only hope it's the last) most people have with this game is it's roster. Not that it's small or lacking. If anything, there is a surplus of WCW wrestlers featured here. I mean, EVERYONE is on this game. From Hall and Nash all the way down to Big Vito and Three Count and everyone in between. The problem is, a lot of the roster is locked in the beginning and the only way to unlock them is by playing through the Hardcore Challenge mode. There is no career mode or cool story mode to play. You just wrestle random opponents in different backstage areas until the champion challenges you. You can't even defend your title after you win it. I guess you sort of just retire with the belt. You know, like everyone does, right?
If I could point out one bright spot in this trash heap; it'd be the commentary. It was well implemented and well done by Tony Schiavone and Bobby Heenan. Great in-game commentary can't save the Titanic, though. I'd say this is a game that you could easilly skip and not really miss out on much. Sadly, this was the last WCW game ever made before the buyout by the WWE. It's too bad they didn't go out on a better note than this.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!