Hey folks, Valkor here. It's been decades, literally decades, since I've last sat down and actually watched a wrestling match. I mean once I found out that all of it was staged, I went through that whole "finding out Santa Claus isn't real" phase where you won't accept it, then disbelief, discovery, sadness, then acceptance. So actually playing a wrestling video game? Not high on my gaming list. But the folks over at SouthPeak games have changed all that and I've become a fan of TNA Impact: Cross The Line on the PSP.
TNA (which stands for Total Nonstop Action) pits 50 plus wrestlers against one another in several styles of matches, reflecting that of the show in which it's named. On the offset, you get a handful of wrestlers to play against, but once you kick it into story mode, you'll then unlock more wrestlers choose from and rings to fight in. In story mode, you'll fight as Suicide; a wrestler who was at the top of his game, before being ambushed, getting the shit kicked out of him, his face destroyed and finally dumped in Mexico with no memory of who he is or how he got there. But some Mexican surgeons patch him up and since this guy has the urge to wrestle, point him in the direction of a local wrestling match, where he can once again fight his way to the top of the TNA food chain, becoming the champion he was always meant to be. And you'll watch the story progress through cut scenes before and after each matchup. And during your matches you'll face off against the likes of AJ Styles, Samoa Joe, Booker T, Kurt Angle, Abyss, Chris Sabin, Jeff Jarret, and more. But if you wanna dive in for some quick play or you've unlocked all the characters, you can jump into exhibition mode, where you pick your character and pick a play mode from Tag Team, Ultimate X, Free for all, and Full Metal Mayhem among other types, and just have at it.
Controls take some getting used to. You have a basic punch, kick, and hold but pressing down the L-shoulder button makes them stronger and you can put them in a variety of combos. The R-shoulder button puts you in a run where you can initiate a running drop kick, clothesline or other variety of takedown. You can also take the fight outside the ring and even use weapons (though through extensive play, I've not seen one), smash your opponent into the turnbuckle or take a dive off the top rope for maximum damage. Finally every character has their own signature move, which you can perform by filling up the IMPACT meter. How do you fill it up? Kick the bajeebies out of your opponent; the stronger you hit the more it fills up. Once it fills up, you can initiate your move by performing a strong hold and then the O button.
Cross The Line is also available for the DS, which I'm sure a lot was cut out. But the game, from what I read, was built from the ground up possibly giving an entirely different experience. I'll have to check that out. But until then, what do I think of the PSP game?
As a time waster, the game isn't bad, especially playing through story mode. The story itself is pretty straightforward and quite entertaining as you follow along with Suicide through his many trials and tribulations of becoming TNA Heavyweight Champion… again. The gameplay is simple and easy to get into; once you catch on to the moves, you'll be ready to dive right in. I can forgive the repetition of moves, because there's still some variety depending on the character you choose. But overall the game has a nice arcade feel to it being very quick to just dive in and play.
OK this is a laundry list of quirks that I needs to get off my chest. First the controls are a bit quirky; one prime example is during tag team play, when you try to tag out, you end up climbing the turnbuckle. Another quirk is trying to pull of your IMPACT move. Here's a tip – don't push any other buttons other than the L-shoulder and the O. That's it! I'm not a huge fan of the intros; I thought they could have gone off a lot smoother - it's those damn breaks that throw it off. Finally the commentary; I thought more voice should have been added to really give the game a deeper immersion into the game. But too many times you're drawn out because you'll hear the same lines repeated over and over. Now I know the PSP can do heavy voice, because I'm a huge fan of the MLB: The Show series, which has HOURS of voice in it. There totally should have been more added. So worse case, just lower the volume and play some of your own tunes.
TNA Impact: Cross The Line is available now and if you're looking for something simple to play and you're a fan of the series, then definitely give it a try. I'm not anywhere closely fan-related, but I enjoyed it. Still do. And out of TOV 5 stars, I give Cross the Line 3 stars.