WCW Nitro is a wrestling game for Windows that probably should not have been made. It is nearly an exact copy of the Playstation and Nintendo 64 versions released earlier. Yes, this version offers network play, but there have been no significant improvements in graphics, sound, or enjoyment.
For gamers with 3-D accelerator graphics cards, the game offers a choice: high-resolution graphics complete with detailed crowds, smoother looking wrestlers, and a Jumbo Tron video monitor, or low-resolution graphics that include cruder wrestlers and no background graphics. For those without 3-D acceleration hardware, there is no choice. You either play with the weaker graphics, or you do not play.
Despite assurances that they only recommend a 3-D accelerator, THQ should have been honest and made it a requirement. The low-res version of the game is a mere shell of the high-res version. Even with 3-D acceleration, there is a noticeable difference in the speed of the game. The better graphics mean slower game play, and that is a problem.
Even with the high-res graphics turned on, WCW Nitro is nothing amazing. Designers have lumped the characters into two basic categories: short muscular guys and tall fat guys. There is some effort made to separate the smaller wrestlers -- Goldberg is much stockier than Hollywood Hogan -- but for the most part, the biggest factors differentiating the wrestlers from one another are costumes and hair.
The crowd graphics are poorly designed with two or three rows of sculptured fans and then a glob of colorful rectangles. The Jumbo Tron monitor is interesting, but it is really a gimmick that works best for a live show. I don't understand why it's included in the game.
The best visual in the entire game are the jump moves that the characters make from the top rope. These sequences are really fun to watch and make the game worth playing. The wrestler jumps, his body stretches, and then he lands with an elbow into his opponent's chest. It is truly a sight to behold. I like doing the rope tricks so much that I don't even care if they connect. I am perfectly happy to miss my opponent if my wrestler looks good as he soars high above the ring.
WCW Nitro does have decent -- if not completely repetitive -- sound. The Nitro theme music is covered well, and the background music is grinding and guitar-driven. The rants from the announcers' table are probably the weakest feature of the soundtrack, simply because they are so limited. Expect to hear the announcers say, "It's the Frankensteiner" again and again and again.
WCW Nitro's game play is decent, but not great. The number of moves is extremely limited, although each player has his own roster of special attacks. The button combos required to pull off most moves are not intuitive, and there are really too many buttons used in the game. A simplified control configuration would make game play much better. Again, the high flying rope tricks are a great aspect of the game, but even they cannot move the game into a higher enjoyment category.
Overall, WCW Nitro is a wrestling game that most PC gamers will want to avoid. The game requires an obscene amount of space on your hard drive (150 MB), and it's really not that good.
Graphics: The high-res graphics are better than the low-res graphics, but they still are not that good.
Sound: WCW Nitro does have good sound effects and music, but both effects and musical riffs are repetitive.
Enjoyment: The moves are limited, and there are no real challenges in the game.
Replay Value: Some gamers will play repeated sessions in order to unlock the hidden wrestlers, but for the most part, this is a game that loses its luster quickly.
People who downloaded WCW Nitro have also downloaded:
WWE Raw (a.k.a. WWF Raw), WWF Wrestlemania: The Arcade Game, WWF in Your House, WWF: Wrestlemania, Wipeout XL (a.k.a. Wipeout 2097), Road Rash, World League Basketball, WWF: European Rampage Tour
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