Developer(s) – Iguana West & Porbe Entertainment
Publisher(s) – Acclaim Sports
Producer(s) – Mike Archer
Designer(s) – Tim Huntsman, Clark Westerman, Richard Raegan, Troy Leavitt, Jeff Robinson & James Daly
PEGI – 12
Released in 1998 shortly after the beginning of the WWF Attitude era, WWF War Zone was the first 3D WWF game released after the transition from the fourth to fifth generations of gaming. It received critical acclaim upon release, having appealed to wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans alike. Although the game, according to many games of the younger generation, in particular, hasn’t aged well, I beg to differ; in my opinion, it still holds up as one of the better wrestling titles of the fifth generation and remains a pleasure to play through.
Graphics – 7.5/10
Having been developed with various different techniques for all three ports, in respect of the graphics (as well as every other respect), the Nintendo 64 version is the best in terms of technical design in my opinion. In terms of conceptual design, the game is limited to only one kind of stage, which would be rectified in later WWF/WWE games, but poses a small issue in terms of visual diversity. However, all that being said, I remember being 9 years old at the time and being overwhelmed by the quality of the graphics and being able to see 3D ring entrances from each of the wrestlers. As I alluded to before, although many gamers may not think that this game has aged well over the years, the fact of the matter is that this level of visual quality was considered cutting edge at the time, and to me, still holds up relatively well today; bar facial textures.
Gameplay – 7/10
WWF War Zone has several different modes to choose from, which again relates to the fact that I would recommend the Nintendo 64 version over the PlayStation version, as the Nintendo 64 version also includes an additional Royal Rumble mode. The main mode being the career mode, whereby players can either play as a custom-made character, or classic wrestler of their choice, to compete for the WWF title. Among the roster are Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker, Kane, Mankind, The Rock, and Triple H. Surprisingly, Bret Hart and The British Bulldog were also included in the game despite the fact that at the time of the game’s release, their contracts with the WWF were terminated following the infamous Montreal Screwjob of 1997. There are a plethora of different fighters to choose from, including a few unlockable ones, which makes each career playthrough a different challenge every time.
Controls – 9/10
For the most part, the controls are perfectly fine. The different moves for each character, as well as the finishing moves. are easy enough to learn how to do, and movement is fluid despite the fact the 3D gaming was in a somewhat preliminary stage at the time of release. The only issue I had with the control scheme was how climbing out of the steel cage works; it can be quite confusing at first and the solution isn’t as straightforward as what it perhaps should’ve been made to be. Besides this, the control scheme presents no further issues.
Lifespan – 7/10
Completing the career mode in WWF War Zone with one character can take there about an hour and a half, depending on how well the player performs, but after that, there are, of course, additional gameplay modes that provide hours of entertainment for players. For an early 3D wrestling game, there is a great amount of variety that prolongs the game’s lifespan greatly. Previous WWE games had a decent amount of longevity to them owing to a lot of the same reasons, but in this game, it’s even more prevalent.
Storyline – N/A (10/10)
Of course, wrestling fans will take to this game much more effectively than those who never either followed wrestling at the or still may not follow wrestling, familiarity with the WWE will be irrelevant to the gamer’s enjoyment of the game. The commentary provided by both Vince McMahon and Jim Ross. by today’s standards, is laughingly bad and clearly done with heavily edited sound clips, but to me and a lot of other gamers, that will provide an additional comedic value to the game.
Originality – 7/10
Offering a 3D wrestling game with a new perspective and style of play made it stand out from any other wrestling game before; it’s a by-product of the era in which this game was developed, and as such, it offered a very new experience for players to indulge in at the time. Although the idea of which would be expanded on immediately with the sequel WWF Attitude, as well as countless or wrestling to come after, but this game served as more than an adequate starting point for what would come next.
In summary, WWF War Zone not only served as an appropriate basis for the standard of 3D wrestling games but is still an enjoyable experience that very much holds up to this day for me. It’s an entertaining title with classic wrestlers and hours of fun to be had.