• Total Extreme Wrestling 2016 review by Rick Moscatello

    When OCD meets the WWF

    Song requests.....-tewsplach-jpg
    Yeah, it's indie, so cut it slack on the graphics.

    Hard core simulations are a very special labor of love genre. The fans and developers are so deeply into their love that they speak almost entirely in code, and almost always these games are tough for outsiders to learn. When it comes to detail, these games are amazing, but the learning curve is often vertical, the interfaces are typically user-hostile, and the fans and “help guides” are usually written so poorly (if you didn’t already know everything then you won’t be into the sim, amirite?) that it’s extremely hard for a newcomer to figure it all out.

    Dwarf Fortress (DF to fans) is probably the most famous of these sims, where learning how to play is so tough that “losing is fun” is the motto of the game (I’ve accidentally slaughtered a dwarven clan with a bad keystroke); a thousand page wiki gives some idea of the depth.

    Out of the Park Baseball (OOTP) is most realistic of the sims…you can easily devote your life to figuring out how this one works, and I suspect there are more stats compiled for this game than for actual baseball, by a factor of 1,000,000. Like all labors of love, the game is constantly in a state of being updated.

    Song requests.....-tewwrestler-jpg
    This is as good as it gets for the graphics. It's good enough.

    Today I’m looking at the 2016 version of Total Extreme Wrestling (TEW2016), a wrestling sim, more accurately, a wrestling business sim. Simulators generally don’t focus on graphics; the best you’ll get here is a company logo or a graphic of a character’s head. This game isn’t about the action, it’s about joining and building up a wrestling empire.

    Unfortunately, the 390 page wiki is lean on useful information, and such tutorials as exist are, well, weaksauce at best. Reading the forums does little good; like most sims, this game has been around forever (since at least 2004, which is forever in computer game years), and has a huge backstory. The end result is most posters write in abbreviations, and are on a first name basis with many of the fictional characters of the Cverse (that’s the game world, takes time to figure that out, by the way). If you don’t know the slang and abbreviations, almost every post will be difficult to understand.

    I was a big fan of wrestling, as I grew up in Tampa. I saw Ric Flair’s debut as Nature Boy (he really fit the part 35 years ago), I saw Andre the Giant wrestle live several times back when he could actually move and fight (he really declined in his later years), I knew Hulk Hogan as a bad guy/Heel “with 28 inch pythons.” This was long before Vince McMahon came on the scene to take away Gordon Solie’s thunder with a much more entertaining product (McMahon used to be a skinny guy with a scrawny voice…steroids and an excellent voice acting coach did wonders for him) .

    I thought ten years of being a fan of wrestling would help, but the barriers to understanding this game are extensive. I knew about the babyface/heel divide, but there is puzzle after puzzle when it comes to learning how to play. Start the game up, and get a warning that your avatar needs a position in the company. You can double click on the warning, and that’ll take you to your avatar page. Hmm. There’s no “position” option. Job? There’s no “job” option. You’re supposed to click on “Push” to set his position, in my case as a referee. There are other warnings, similarly muddled through.

    These sorts of “Hmm, what am I supposed to do?” moments are a huge part of TEW2016, at least for a newcomer. Added to the confusion is the game itself uses plenty of acronyms. I decided to join Total Championship Wrestling when I started up the game…but it’s almost never referred to that after the first page, instead it’s called TCW. That’s a small thing, I know, but the vocabulary shifts are relentless. You want Ricky Dale Johnson for something, and the game calls him RDJ in some places, and by his name in others; wrestlers are generally listed alphabetically by first name (why didn’t already know that?).

    The fans complain about the “physicality” of the matches? That means you need to check the “product” and verify your “intensity” is set properly. Press the “data check” button to get the low down on how physical you should be and you generally won’t have that problem. I’m sure if I’d been playing regularly for the last decade, this stuff would all be obvious…but I honestly believe there’s room to make this more clear.

    Song requests.....-tewshow-jpg
    Behold, a wrestling card. Wish I figured out how to make the print larger, but no dice.

    The main way you succeed in the game is by setting up wrestling events. There is much to consider when you set up a wrestling match. Of course you need to have good guys (Faces) fight bad guys (Heels), but also avoid the wrong push types (Openers shouldn’t fight Openers, not even in the opening match. Duh!), and try to pick wrestlers whose abilities mesh well (wrestlers have 33 different attributes in addition to style, size, and push…good luck with that).

    Yes, 33 attributes, and I forgot about Gimmick. Gimmick is the wrestler’s primary character; he can be a millionaire playboy, a cowboy, a reincarnated dragon, or even a vampire, it’s all possible, and, naturally, you’ll want a gimmick that’s suited to the wrestler’s capabilities and attributes (no point in being a “slut” if you’re a guy).

    Song requests.....-tewoptions-jpg
    So many choices, so little comprehension.

    Yes, you can have women wrestlers, a whole league if you desire, as well as MMA wrestling (i.e., like wrestling, but with MMA-style fights), lucha libre, and others. It’s tough to know where to stop when it comes to discussion of the options in this game. There are dozens of 1 on 1 match types available, from cage matches, to lingerie matches, to strap matches (the wrestlers strapped together) to matches with various sorts of weapons…these can be used to manipulate the crowd, and you can script the match quite a bit (pick the winner, of course, and determine if the win will be tainted, for example). Ultimately all you’ll get from the game is “RDJ beat Killer at 7:46 with a pinfall” but it might well play into a story.

    Similar options await for tag team, multi-tag team, and other possibilities.

    Anyway, you set up the wrestling matches. You also set up “angles,” which is everything but the matches. You can have wrestler interviews that end up in brawls, you can have backroom beatdowns where two wrestlers destroy a third, you can have music videos…again, anything you’ve seen on mainstream wrestling TV shows is here, and, for those that remember those weird 3am wrestling shows, that bizarre stuff is possible too (it wouldn’t surprise me if the option to kill a wrestler and have him come back as a zombie isn’t an option somewhere, to give some idea of the possibilities).

    Key to modern wrestling is the soap opera aspect, and you need to set up angles and matches that allow the advancement of the endless storylines. So you have RDJ and Buffalo get into a backstage brawl, advancing the story and leading to a later match, and similar antics. After you set everything up (yes, I’m missing details here, there’s just too much), you run the show, and everything is rated via a black box system. If the overall rating is good, then your PPV or TV broadcaster is happy (yes, there are jillions of options regarding how your show is distributed across the planet, yes, the whole planet).

    You can spend hours setting up just one show for one day (and the game is intended to run for game years, hundreds of shows), but, if you’re lucky, you’ll find the “auto-booker” button which will set up the whole show for you, letting you just tweak things to experiment and try to figure something out without necessarily destroying the whole company.

    But wait, there’s more. You can set up wrestling dojos to train and seek new wrestlers. You can set up developing grounds where your wrestlers can train (if there’s one weakness to the game, is it’s hard as heck to train and develop wrestlers with any purpose…what you start with is what you have unless you want to devote a hundred of hours of play time, and I'm still not sure that'd be enough). You can hire away wrestlers from the 30+ other wrestling companies around. You can set up wrestling stables.

    Don’t ask me how to do any of that stuff, mind you, as my guesswork button-clicking skills never seemed to accomplish much, and when I succeeded, I wasn’t sure what I accomplished. According to fans of the game, that’s how it’s supposed to be. I haven’t come remotely close to discussion or understanding of all the options here…but I can see someone devoting a life to figuring it all out.

    Bottom line, this is an incredibly deep, incredibly detailed game, and I’m giving it a high rating because it totally does everything it sets out to do, and goes above and beyond to achieve every goal, every time. That said, there’s a strong “great if you like that sort of thing” element here. If you’re looking for a wrestling business simulator, this is the only game in town, and you’ll be grateful that you have such an awesome option. It’s just a shame that the only way to see how deep the game is, is to do all the digging with a plastic spoon.

    Overall rating: 85.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: Total Extreme Wrestling 2016 review by Rick Moscatello started by Doom View original post