Review: Wrestling Storm25 Oct 2013 0
Wrestling "entertainment"--as opposed to actual wrestling sport--has been described as the modern equivalent of ancient Rome's panem et circense. Bread and circuses to please and distract the masses from a possibly-horse-coupled emperor. An undeniably negative reading, but it does at least suggest there's something, or some things, inherently appealing about watching veiny he-bulks with flamboyant alter-egos slam each other against hard things in a highly ritual fashion, even to those who readily note mainstream wrestling's, uh, political issues. You know, like, being racist. And sexist.
So here's Wrestling Storm then, jumping into the ring all flashy and cocksure since we're going for that conceit apparently. It's a collectible card game with a wrestling theme handled about as straightforward as such an admittedly odd combo can be (though it's certainly not the first). And this simulated fake wrestling, just like real fake wrestling, is regularly off-putting, undercooked, or just plain frustrating, but, damn it all, still has a curious appeal.
Is this too gushy? Hell, Wrestling Storm gets points just because it's a card game that actually lets you play with cards, which is more indicative of the quality of many CCGs on iOS than anything else. And, to be fair, the "150" or so "different" cards the game boasts is more like "50," times three tiers (bronze, silver, and gold). That's an issue. As is the fact that these tiers significantly change card functions, to the point of unbalancing things. A gold "Dropkick" card is just flat-out better than a silver or bronze, and often has extra effects not present in lower levels. It makes sense that players who shell out more for cards should have more variety when it comes to deck-building, more of a chance to get better cards, but the possibility that an opponent could build a card for card copy of your deck, but better (because numbers!), illustrates the problem with Wrestling Storm's loose definition of "different."
Worse still is the baffling single-player campaign design, which just... hands you some wrestlers and prebuilt decks. Why put so much into the collection and deck-building aspects of the game, and then not let players beat up on the AI with a handcrafted crew before going into multiplayer?
Oh, and then there's the multiple crashes this reviewer encountered, the meagre--even for a free-to-play--doling out of credits and XP for victories, the multiple poorly explained systems, a generally clunky deck-building interface, lackluster finishing moves executable by... playing enough cards which have The Symbol Which Lets You Do Finishing Moves... oh. There goes the gush. The gush is gone. The gush has left the WAIT THE GUSH IS BACK. The Gush faked it's own death to get the drop on Corporal Smashem. The Gush is climbing the turnbuckle! This commentator is entertaining the possibility that we're about to see some sort of "maneuver to finish," and it is moderately exciting...
What's really heartbreaking about Wrestling Storm is that it's a wrestling game which, somehow, lacks excess. It has some--the flamboyant costumes, the racist stereotypes, the shitty Kid Rock-esque machocore, the fact that every single goddamn time you switch characters a miniature fireworks show goes off--but when it comes down to the cards, it's actually quite staid. At the same time, it's also mechanically sound, and manages to get the pound-recover-pound-recover-pound-finisher tempo of scripted wrestling right. Just playing around with the starter set is engaging for an hour or two. It's good enough in small doses to be enjoyable, bad enough to really frustrate if you take it too earnestly, campy enough to appeal to wrestling fans ironic and genuine, and... crap, no way I'm shoehorning this into a "tag team" gag now. Dang.
Wrestling Storm was played on an iPad for this review.