TNA Impact for iPhone comes at you like a steel chair to the cranium! Does TNA miss completely or does it knock your head back to the bleacher seats?
For those completely unfamiliar, TNA is a wrestling organization like the WWE (meaning fake). Based on their roster of wrestlers it looks like they tend to pick up a lot of WWE cast offs and guys who are a little bit past their prime. Obviously, this really has no effect of the video game itself since it’s about the game play and not the roster, but I’m sure there are some hardcore wrestling fans who will either love or hate a game like this based on the cast of wrestlers. In that regard, I will keep it short and sweet; pretty much all of the big stars from TNA are in the game.
Impact is a wrestling game which, based on my experience with wrestling games, means it plays like a sluggish and slow fighting game. This does not always equate to being a bad thing, because wrestling is a slower paced “sport” which is more about theatrics. It would be weird to see Hulk Hogan moving at the speed of Ryu in Street Fighter if you were playing a wrestling game. However, in the case of Impact the sluggishness of the game goes a little too far, and crosses over to the point of feeling unresponsive. The lack of tactile feedback on touch screen games has been an issue since day 1 of the app store, and when a game has sluggish and unresponsive controls it emphasises the problem by a lot. This is the case with TNA. There were many occasions where I would push a button and it felt like nothing was happening or it was happening slowly. This takes away a lot from the games potential, but it doesn’t completely kill it.
Another harmful aspect to TNA’s game play is the way the wrestlers interact during the match. If you send your opponent running at the ropes and execute a jump kick you can often times hit him before he appears close enough to actually make contact with your foot. This is obviously an issue because it works both ways. You might think you are out of range based on where you are standing and your opponent will somehow still hit you. There are also take downs you can perform while running at your opponent, and often these will miss completely but still take your opponent down. There is one in particular where you grab his head and slam him it into the ground, and this looks really funny when you slam nothing but air, yet the other guy still falls down and writhes in pain.
As I stated previously, the controls work using on screen buttons and a virtual joystick. There is the grab button, which allows you lock up with your opponent and execute one of your 2 grab moves. There is the strike button which allows you to kick and punch your opponent. Lastly, there is the run button. If you are standing separated from your opponent the run button will cause you to go running in whichever direction you are pointing the joystick, and if you are locked up with your opponent it will make you send him running. There is also a special button that comes on screen and changes depending on circumstance. For example, if you are near the corner it will appear and allow you climb the turnbuckle and jump at the other guy.
The most important use of the special button is when you have filled up your Impact! meter. This allows you to perform a devastating finishing move. It does not necessarily end the fight, but it certainly hurts your opponent dearly, and will usually cause you to be able to pin or submit your opponent for the win. These moves look pretty awesome for the most part, but some of their animations are a little unnecessarily long. For example, my created wrestler executes a “five star frog splash.” This starts with him doing a little celebration, then drop kicking his opponent, and walking to the corner, climbing up the turnbuckle, jumping off and laying on the other guy for a couple seconds. They could make this move a little faster, because after I see the move the first time I don’t really want to watch this long animation every time I execute my finishing move.
TNA features a number of different modes and match types. There is the exhibition mode which lets you choose any wrestler and fight any other person in the game. This allows you to choose the match type and rules set such as “falls count anywhere,”"cage match,” “tag team,” and “no disqualification.” This is ideal if you just want to beat someone up real quick and move on with your life. There is also the career mode, which is hardly a career at all. At the start you can choose to use their incredibly bare “create a wrestler”, which lets you choose for a minimal amount of hair, clothes, and the like. If you don’t feel like spending 5 minutes to adjust the minuscule options in the “create a wrestler” then you can simply play the career with one of the existing guys. The career is basically just a short tournament where you fight a couple of matches en route to winning the title. It’s a pretty weak career mode to say the least.
The presentation of TNA is actually the strongest asset of the package. The wrestler’s models look pretty good, but not necessarily realistic. They are exaggerated in a cartoonish way. They also feature brief entrances for each wrestler with their own custom entrance music. They look very good, and when I first booted up a match I was thoroughly impressed with the way the characters moved and acted as they made their way to the ring. The sound is good in regards to the music and entrances, but the actual sound during the fights isn’t anything special. That’s not to say there is really anything wrong with the sound, it just gets repetitive. There is also no commentary, which seems like something that is integral to the experience of wrestling.
TNA unfortunately comes up a little short in a number of categories. It starts off with a great presentation, and then falls short in terms of game play. Once you get used to the sluggishness of the game it is playable if you are a huge TNA fan. (Do those exist?) There were times when I really enjoyed the game, but for the most part I always felt like it was lacking some polish. If the controls were not so sluggish this could have easily been a great game, but as it stands it’s just lacking.