As most of you have probably guessed by now I love Wrestling (especially the late 80s early 90s period in the WWF history). That's why I'm bringing you yet another such game. This time the superstars of the WWF are on their European Rampage Tour.
This game is the follow up on the Wrestlemania made by Ocean and they have improved certain aspects of the game. The graphic is really great. I was really surprised by the level of details you can see on wrestlers. One could recognize them while moving in the ring and that wasn't an easy task for the 1992 graphic designers. Not to mention that the animations run smoothly. The sound is a completely different area (it's almost non-existent). But I guess you can't have everything.
The gameplay has changed. You're no longer involved in numerous power struggles that are doing serious damage to your keyboard (or joystick). The choice of moves isn't all that impressive yet. You can punch, hit or stomp (depends on how far away you are), run and perform a few actions while running (my favorite is also the best offensive maneuver you have in the repertoire The Running Roll). The most important change in the gameplay, however, is the fact that all the matches are Tag Team Matches. This allows you to play a single player or a two player mode (where each player controls one member of the team). Now they are all playing by the book, so there are always only two opposing wrestlers standing in the ring, to switch to your partner you need to tag him in.
The background story is a little weird though. There are four different superstars and you need to select two. For some unclear reason they've decided to start working together and get themselves a tag team championship title currently held by Hawk and Animal aka The Legion of Doom.
The strange thing is that Randy Savage and Hulk Hogan were tag team partners at a certain point in the WWF history, but that was quite a few years before this game. Bret Hart on the other hand became famous as a tag team wrestler along with Jim “the Anvil” Nightheart, but the Ultimate Warrior never was a tag team wrestler. It did therefore surprise me that you had to build a team of these four wrestlers instead of selecting an actual tag team of the time (especially because you have to fight the tag teams of the time).
Unfortunately all the characters have the same capabilities and moves (which are explained in the manual).
The game is taking place in four locations. First you need to win the British part of the tour, where you fight in London. Then you're off to Munich Germany, where you need to fight the same three teams. After that you'll face the same three opposing teams yet again, only this time in Paris. If you win all nine matches, you'll return back to the US as the number one contender for the tag team title and will fight the Legion of Doom in the Madison Square Garden.
All in all there are ten fights. The first opponents are the Nasty Boys (Knobbs & Sags), after them you face Money Inc. (a team of Irvin R. Shyster aka I.R.S. & Ted Dibiase aka The Million Dollar Man). As the third team you'll have to fight the Natural Disasters (Earthquake & Typhoon). You'll have to defeat each team three times (once in each of the European cities) and then you'll have the championship match in New York in the old Madison Square Garden.
The opponents will get slightly better every time, but the AI isn't very smart, so if you master the basic strategy, you'll be able to win all the matches. When you tag your opponent in, you'll be standing in a spot where you're almost invincible. The opponent will have to come near and you'll almost always be able to throw the first punch. Also if you master the running roll you'll be able to either knock down the opponent or at least get away from his attack (and there's a 5:1 possibility that you'll knock the other guy down). So a general tip, wear the opponent down (they'll change with the partner, but won't fully recuperate). When they're strong, you better stay on your side of the ring, but when they get weak, you should try to prevent the tag. The weaker they are, the longer they'll take to recuperate and the better your chances are for winning.
And now go and kick some butt.
One of the worst games ever made, WWF European Rampage is dull, repetitive, and even looks horrible. The entirety of gameplay consists of walking up to your opponent and hitting the fire button to punch him a few times until he falls down, and then stompimg on him a bit, continuing until his energy is sufficiently low for you to flop down on top of him and pin him down for three seconds, winning you the match. Although this might sound like what wrestling is all about, fans of the sport will wince at the total lack of strategy or even challenge in this game.
Granted, the game does try to offer gameplay options. Unfortunately, the tag-team mode serves only to drag each bout out for twice as long (if your opponent escapes to his corner, he can tag his partner, who then comes in with a full energy bar, forcing you to start the whole tedious process over again), and the more complicated moves are both awkward to execute and totally unnecessary. You get a strictly limited selection of WWF wrestlers to choose your characters from (four, to be exact), many of whom are hopelessly out of date, and none of whom boast any of their real-life trademark moves or characteristics. The atmosphere-building insult-trading section of the first game (WWF Wrestlemania) has gone, and there's none of the showbiz razzamatazz that's the real secret of WWF's success as a spectator event. The 'tour' aspect of the game consists of repeating the same three bouts (you always have to fight The Nasty Boys, The Natural Disasters and the Legion Of Doom) in 'different' European venues which are actually exactly the same crude arena with different flags and banners each time, which means the game totally lacks any compulsion to play on to the finish. And in a departure from a common bad-game trend of spiffy graphics that try to mask horrendous gameplay, the graphics in WWF European Rampage is downright horrible. The players are all very blocky, and their movements resemble broken robots than human beings.
All in all, I can't think of any reason anyone would want to play this game, although I'm sure that there are many WWF fanatics who will play anything with the WWF logo on it. It's even more amazing to think that WWF European Rampage is even worse than OCEAN's first WWF licensed game, WWF Wrestlemania, which surprisingly sold quite well (perhaps proving my theory about how fanatical WWF fans can be). If you want a good wrestling game, Micro League Wrestling 2 is a much better choice.
I never liked WWF much so the rating might be too harsh for some of you. Anyway, the usual wrestling-fighting game with a rather hard controls and not so good graphics. Control one or two fighters (in two player mode) and beat your opponents. Easy and...well, not so good.
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