Balls Mahoney takes flight in ECW Anarchy Rulz.

There’s plenty that could be said about ECW Anarchy Rulz, the latest Acclaim wrestling game release for the Sony Playstation. Unfortunately, most of it was already said when the game was released as ECW Hardcore Revolution. Or was it WWF Attitude?

Sure, there are some improvements and expansions from the games of yesteryear. But for the most part, the game released last week is yet another rehashing of the familiar, with the look and feel of its above-noted predecessors.

This is disappointing, particularly since rival game-maker THQ proved with WWF Smackdown that a wrestling game can be innovative and original. Even moreso, considering the unique style of ECW, which offers a chance to take wrestling games to entirely new levels of violence, excitement, and gaming fun.

Hopefully, in the next go-around, Acclaim will rise to the occasion. However, this time they’ve offered a lacklustre effort that’s not the coolest, not the best, it’s just more of the same.

Ultimately, Anarchy Rulz is like a Greatest Hits CD by your favourite band. All the hits you know and love are on there, with a couple of previously unreleased tracks thrown in so die-hards will buy the disc. But in the end it’s the same old stuff you know by heart and you can’t wait for them to put out something new.

The Details

The Look

  • From the ring entrances to the blocky-sprite wrestlers, Anarchy Rulz (AR) looks virtually the same as Hardcore and Attitude.
  • No major improvements in the collision detection (a common complaint with previous games), as wrestlers sometimes don’t even hit each other before falling to the mat.
  • New blood effects are decent, with puddles forming and pooling on the mat remaining there for the entire match.
  • Overall, no big changes other than a deeper and clearer audience background. Why not incorporate this into the gameplay, however? How cool would it be to fight it out into the crowd, climb up the stairs onto the balcony, and deliver a New-Jack splash from 30-feet up?

The Sound

  • Wrestlers provide actual voices for pre-match quips and trash-talking during the match.
  • Music during entrances is standard for the wrestling game genre. Unfortunately, some wrestlers come out to sound-alike variations of their actual theme, as ECW/Acclaim not able to get licensing.
  • Commentary by Joel Gertner & Joey Styles is an improvement over Hardcore, which feature Styles alone. The sound is not always synchronized with moves, however. This should have been better, given what’s been done in the past.
  • Crowd chants and cheers are par for the course for Acclaim games, and are well done here as well, replicating ECW crowds accurately (right down to the Teen-rating profanities).
  • Some moves inexplicably have no sound when opponent hits the mat. This glitch should have been caught and corrected before releasing the game.

The Feel

  • Same tappity-tap button and direction pad controls as HR and Attitude.
  • No noticeable improvements on moves from prior games. All wrestlers have the same standard moves, with a few special moves available for each person.
  • Some improvement in gameplay realism, as intensity of moves depends on a building up of momentum (ie: can’t connect with a high-impact moves without first softening up opponent).
  • Unfortunately, still no moves which involve interaction with weapons (eg: Van Daminator, Sandman’s White Russian Legsweep) or ropes (Tajiri’s Tarantula is woefully excluded from the game).

Modes and Matches

Justin Credible and Tommy Dreamer get extreme.
  • Increased number of game modes from prior games. Most of the, however, are just different variations of a similar theme(eg: 3-way dance vs. 4-way dance vs. 1-on-2 vs. 1-on-3).
  • Career Mode nearly identical to both Attitude and HR.
  • Create-a-Stable is a decent feature, where you pick allies in your battle to the top.
  • Acclaim is the pioneer of Create-a-Wrestler. AR takes a step backwards from previous efforts however, as you can’t pick a pre-programmed nickname (ie: back to the chants of “Player One”).
  • Brimstone match is a merely a 2-man Battle Royal with cheesy fire effects; a true letdown for a highly anticipated feature.
  • Table matches and Dumpster matches are a good step forward, but leave plenty of room for improvement (Items are stationary. Why not allow for movement and placement in the ring?).
  • Backlot Brawl is the best new feature of the game. The sound effects add to the realism of fighting in the streets. Again, why not expand on this bit to add some extra ECW flavour?