I walked four blocks south and one block east from MTV headquarters yesterday to play some upcoming games from Midway. Among them was "TNA Impact!," a September game for PS2, PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii based on the generally more athletic if not as charismatic company of wrestlers who compete against the industry's dominant league, WWE.
Two of TNA's most physically dynamic stars, Christopher Daniels and AJ Styles were at the event, playing the game and standing within earshot while the game's designer gave me a demo. The game was pretty fun. I mostly button-mashed and wound up, playing as Daniels, performing some cool high-flying moves and, when in danger, issuing some vicious uppercuts to my virtual opponent's most sensitive body part.
I ran into trouble when I tried to discuss the story with the game designer. Specifically, I wasn't sure how to ascertain whether the story treats wrestling as -- were the wrestlers listening? -- "real." It's 2008. We all know pro wrestling is a performance, a physically demanding one that is less combat and more coordination. But still, the word "fake" doesn't roll of the tongue when wrestlers are standing nearby. It seems so insulting. I asked about the story and the designer told me it's mostly being kept secret for now. I asked if he could at least say whether it treats wrestling as if it was real or if it acknowledges that it's f... I paused. Second try: Or does it treat wrestling like it's a job, I asked?
The designer tried answering my question, explaining that the game will position the player as their own wrestler within the TNA organization. Third try from me: So, it acknowledges that these guys have scripts and don't necessarily hate each other? (Were Styles and Daniels hearing me stumble through this??). Does it acknowledge that wrestling is ... uh ... involves a script? I couldn't say the word. And, really, is "fake" even the right word?
From what I can tell, the TNA game will treat wrestling as if it is a real, unscripted sport. That's the storyline, which, now that I think of it, is what seems fake. Nevertheless, I don't think people go to wrestling games for the stories but for the gameplay. I'm no aficionado. It seemed fun for casual players. I told the designer, Daniels and Styles that I enjoyed the game. No, I wasn't faking.
Next: Time to deal with those taunting me about my "Geometry Wars: Retro Evolved 2" scores.