Ouch! Don't hit me. Finally a wrestler for the N-Gage and we have the full review.
I don't know if people are still buying N-Gages or whether Nokia just can't take a hint, but either way games are still being released for the system and the quality of these titles has been improving. The latest is WWE Aftershock, a decent wrestling title that, despite some annoying flaws, is actually worth owning if you're an N-Gage owner searching for a quality wrestling game (not that you have another option) or a solid fighter.
Aftershock is a fully 3D brawler starring a 12 of the WWE's premier wrestlers such as John Cena, the Undertaker, Booker T, the Big Show, Edge, and Chris Benoit. It's a small roster for sure, but since this is more of a pocket fighter for a system that's not too powerful I don't look at the short list as a hindrance, especially since all of the characters have their signature moves, so you'll be able to tombstone opponents with the Undertaker, slap on the figure four with Ric Flair, or drive countless heads into the mat using Triple H's pedigree. Unfortunately, that's about the only individual personality you'll get. Aside from taunts and theme music (which I'll get to in a bit), all of the wrestlers move the same way and feature a typical list of maneuvers such a fireman's carry, abdominal stretch, and the usual assortment of punches and kicks.
Unlike THQ Wireless' SmackDown game for cell phones, Aftershock features a wide assortment of modes including Exhibition, First Blood, I Quite, King of the King, No DQ, Best 2 out of 3, Best 3 out of 5, Survival, Tag Team, and multiplayer options via Bluetooth and the N-Gage Arena. It's actually quite a meaty collection of stuff given the platform, and I found that the plethora of match types provide fresh changes of pace even though many of them are essentially the same type, that being the standard one on one contests.
Much like a bag of gourmet jelly beans, Aftershock's gameplay is a mix of good and bad. Taken for what it is the game's a ho-hum fighter that features decent controls and a lot of action. All you'll be doing is frantically mashing buttons in the hopes of building your SmackDown meter (when that happens you can unleash a finisher by just pressing 5), and there are nice little touches such as being able to bust open your opponents or diving off the top rope. However, the wrestlers walk like they have SNES Super Scopes up their anuses, and the in-ring animation is equally poor. The combat just lacks fluidity, and this is made worse by the fact that all of the characters share similar move sets. There are also some bad targeting glitches that pop up whenever you're trying to pummel a downed wrestler. Several times while I was stomping away my character would randomly look in the opposite direction and start kicking the air.
While on the subject of kicking, all of the wrestlers perform these weak looking toe taps that if done in real life wouldn't even crack glass. Seriously, it's like watching cardboard boxes beat the $#!% out of one another. Still, Aftershock has an addictive quality to it. Despite its faults, I kept coming back to it whenever I was stuck someplace and needed a quick gaming fix.
The game's graphics are impressive considering the platform, but the visuals are still pretty ugly. All of the superstars come down to the ring almost the same exact way, and the arenas (Raw, SmackDown, Heat, and Velocity) all feature distinct colors that set them apart. As for the rings...they're rings. The aprons aren't especially detailed but what's there is decent. The character models...well I already mentioned those. Boxes man! Cardboard boxes.
Thankfully, Aftershock's aural component is much better. The punches and kicks are pretty bad and the elbow drops sound like gunshots, but all of the wrestlers have their own theme music, and while it doesn't play for very long during ring entrances, after you win a match it goes on for quite some time.
There were times when I considered slapping this game with a 2 out of 5 just because its graphics are $#^% poor and its gameplay is fairly mindless, but WWE Aftershock has an addictive quality to it that slowly worked its way to my heart (awwww). It isn't pretty and it certainly isn't sophisticated, but for a game built for a cell phone hybrid machine it's not too shabby providing you play it in short, controlled bursts. However, if you go past the 35 minute mark in one sitting, you're officially wasting your time.
What's Hot: The wide assortment of modes.
What's Not: Poor graphics, even for the N-Gage!