ECW Anarchy Rulz
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"Anarchy in the USA! First-ever blistering Brimstone match plus music from Dope and One Minute Silence! The Bionic Elbow from "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes! Backlot brawls, all new finishers, and 2-man commentary! Never before seen hardcore table matches! RVD, (Masato) Tanaka, The Sandman, and over 60 extreme wrestlers!"
Today, I wanted to take a look at the follow up to the fiasco that was ECW Hardcore Revolution. As I mentioned in my review of Hardcore Revolution; I had never been so overly hyped to play a wrestling game upon its release only to be so completely disappointed upon actually playing it. To borrow some pro wrestling lingo; that game was "the shits", for sure. The publishers for the game tried to hurry a sequel out to fix people's issues with the first ECW game and hopefully improve on some things. This game was the fix they thought we needed at the time so, let's take a look at how it ended up panning out.
As I said, this game was hurriedly released only about 6 months after Hardcore Revolution's January 2000 release. It was once again developed and released by the (now defunct) Acclaim. I would give Acclaim the obligatory RIP but, let's face it, we're not missing out on much by them not being around the video game scene anymore. The made a few decent games over the years (the Legends Of Wrestling series and Turok: Dinosaur Hunter come to mind) but they hardly released anything that I personally consider "classic" and they also flooded the market with a lot of garbage games.
The back cover for this game spouts that it has an "all-new control system". I like the carefully chosen words by Acclaim there - they don't say "good" or even "improved" control system. They just say it's new. It is somewhat improved, however, from the mess that was the control scheme for Hardcore Revolution. No longer do you have to pause the game 10-20 times a match to see the various button inputs to perform your wrestlers moves. I, for one, have never really been that good at fighting games and got tired of having to do a "Hadouken style" button pressing combo just to get Tommy Dreamer to bodyslam someone. Thankfully, the controls here in ECW Anarchy Rulz are a little more intuitive and a little more along the lines of standard wrestling game controls.
The graphics and the various animations for this game look about the same as it's predecessor. The character models still aren't that great and the animations for almost everything (even just walking) look somewhat stiff and unpolished. I'd say it was passable for the time, though. Not a game-breaker.
One of the highlights of this or any other ECW game is the roster included. In my opinion, it just didn't get any better than to be able to play as the top stars of ECW at the time. The wrestler I was most excited to have included on this game at the time was "The American Dream" Dusty Rhodes. I was so excited to play as Dusty during his brief ECW run! Other highlights for me included New Jack (as always), Masato Tanaka, Super Crazy, and RVD. The back cover claims there are over 60 wrestlers on this game but I'd bet that's a bit of a stretch although I haven't actually counted them. Perhaps, if you counted all the "jobbers" and unlockable wrestlers then the roster would equal 60 but I would hardly call them all "extreme superstars". With bonus characters like "The Trainer", Judge Jeff Jones, and referee Jim Molineaux; their hardcore, extreme style was questionable at best.
I do enjoy having recognizable arenas in this game like the ECW Arena and the Elks Lodge from Queens, New York, but the new match types included are hit and miss in my opinion. Mostly "miss," to be honest. The Hate Match has a stupid name and is pretty pointless. It's just a gauntlet match against 12 opponents, back to back. The Dumpster Match sounds kinda cool but it ends up being underwhelming for the most part. The Brimstone Match is like an Inferno Match took to the next level, I suppose, but it's too over-the-top to really be believable.
The best new match type added would have to be the Tables Match but even that has its flaws. You're not able to move the tables from where they're positioned at ringside and if you happen to climb out of the ring where the table is positioned then your wrestler falls through it and hurts themselves. I mean, who's really so clumsy as to fall through a table, unassisted, while just attempting to exit through the ring ropes?
It sounds as if I'm being hard on this game but it's not completely bad. Some things were improved upon and I was much happier playing it after being stuck playing Hardcore Revolution for six months. Still, to buy a game and be completely disappointed only to have to buy another game six months later that's only slightly improved, kinda sucks. It's a shame that such an exciting and inventive promotion like ECW never did get a suitable video game equivalent of its product.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!