ECW Hardcore Revolution (PS1) Review

ECW’s first game should’ve been a reason to celebrate, but instead it was a blatant cash-grab, both ECW and Acclaim were hurting financially and so clearly wanted this out of the door as fast as possible, and it shows. It’s pretty much just WWF Attitude with ECW characters and logos, plus a Barbed Wire Match. It was still fun for a short burst because I was actually playing as ECW wrestlers, which was weird after all that time, but it soon became rather obvious what was going on. How is it now, in hindsight? Let’s find out!

Background:

Sabu with the Homicidal, Genocidal, Suicidal … Hammerlock.

ECW Hardcore Revolution was released for the Playstation and N64 (plus a crappy Game Boy Colour port that I won’t bother covering) on February 17th 2000 in America, with the March 3rd 2000 release in Europe. A Dreamcast version followed both of those dates by a week, so… no idea why it was delayed so briefly, but there you go. The sequel was released just six months later, really ramming home the desperation!

Given this is the first ECW game ever, it’s not a shock that everyone here is making their game debut with the sole exception of Raven. The rest of the roster features the game debuts of Rob Van Dam, Sabu, Tommy Dreamer, Taz, Rhino, Lance Storm, Justin Credible, Jerry Lynn, Mike Awesome, New Jack, Balls Mahoney, Nova, Axl Rotten, CW Anderson, Spike Dudley, Super Crazy, Steve Corino, Yoshihiro Tajiri, Little Guido, The Original Sheik, Tommy Rich, Tracey Smothers, Angel, Chris Chetti, Danny Doring, Roadkill, Dawn Marie, Francine, Beulah McGillicutty, Jazz, Jack Victory, Jason, Big Sal, Simon Diamond, Tony Devito, Louie Spicolli, and “Wild Bill” (otherwise known as Belvis Wesley, how on Earth he got in I have no idea…),

Plus they did that thing of having announcers as playable, plus “jobbers” that are often just staff, both ECW and Acclaim. *shudder*.

Gameplay:

A rhino facing a raven? I think I know who’ll win that one!

As mentioned, it just uses the same engine that started with WWF Warzone and then got built on by Attitude, only without building anything else on top of it. You do basic Mortal Kombat d-pad button pushes followed by a face button to do grapple moves and ground moves, strikes are just one button (though more damaging strikes can be done with a small directional combo), and you can do top rope moves, drives and running strikes. The more variety of moves and strikes you do, the more the crowd will cheer you and you’ll get stronger, and more you get beat or the more you repeat the same move over the over you’ll get booed and become weaker. Your health bar turns from green to yellow to red, with various shades, each time you lose a bar you become stunned, and once you hit red you can be hit by a finisher. So, as I said, literally the same engine as Attitude, in fact there are very little if any new moves in the game, despite the entirely new roster.

In terms of match types, there are the standard singles, tag (up to an 8-man tag, though two per team appear on screen at any one time, obviously!), handicap, triple threat and four-way matches (the latter two only just becoming standard, for the record!), all with elimination modifiers and twists like Falls Count Anywhere, Best 2 out of 3 Falls, Last Man Standing, I Quit Match, Iron Man and Cage (which very rarely happened in ECW, but whatever) plus a “Finisher Only” match rule where, as it implies, the first to hit their finisher wins. There’s still the Royal Rumble in, which is just called “Battle Royal”, plus a “Toughman Match” which is just a handicap match but the single person has to pin both or all three of his opponents to win. Then you get the ECW-exclusive matches of “Death Match” (which is just the Falls Count Anywhere but with more weapons all over the place) and Barbed Wire, which does indeed replace the ring ropes with barbed wire and do damage to whoever is Irish whipped into them, actually giving a valid reason to the weird bleeding backs from Attitude.

So you’re not short of match types, that I can’t deny, but what about career mode? I’m afraid it’s literally the same as Attitude, to the point where they had to make up a title entirely (the “Acclaim Title”) just so they can have three singles titles to fight for and therefore didn’t have to change the coding at all. I mean, talk about embarrassing. The CAW mode is much the same as Attitude, though the really weird made up voices and entrance themes aren’t there, which is a shame… I think? Same goes for the whole Create-a-PPV and arena thing, they exist exactly as they did in Attitude. About the only other thing I can think worth mentioning is that some of the weapons have be ECW-d a bit, like a cheese grater and such.

Overall, picking between this and Attitude is literally down to which company and roster you want to play as, if you really want to play the old Acclaim “Warzone Engine”, anyway…

Graphics and Sound:

Tommy Dreamer waits for his opponent and tries his best not to look at the super-badly pixelated audience behind him…

Graphics are the same as Attitude, still plenty of hard edges around the modes, weird robot dance idle animations, some clipping issues with moves (especially for the more… weighty stars) and generally everything looks very… PS1. It’s not bad for the console, but they certainly didn’t put any effort into improving things.

Sound is once again good, though weird. All characters are voiced by themselves, complete with quote at the start of a match and their own screams and “oofs” and “Argh!” sounds. You also have Joey Styles on commentary and the crowd is its weird combination of piped-in crowd cheer and single person catchphrase shouts that the engine had previously produced. As I mentioned though, theme music and voices are majorly downgraded compared to the varied and, erm, colourful choice found in Attitude.

Thoughts Then:

RVD in a Three Way Dance with Bruno Santoro and The Trainer… It’s what all ECW fans dreamed of…?

I brought it thanks to the ECW hype, loved it for a few days due to the entirely fresh roster and new match types, but then stopped and went back to WWF WrestleMania 2000, where I remember then creating Rob Van Dam and Justin Credible (the latter because he was easy to make…) as if to continue the fun but with a good game engine…

Thoughts Now:

You didn’t think I’d end this review without a screenshot of a barbed wire match did you? It makes the bleeding backs from Attitude make sense!

It’s very odd to play this now, not only because of how blatant a cash grab it was by two failing companies, but also the novelty of playing a straight up ECW game hasn’t entirely left. I played this and its sequel very little in hindsight, even though it feels like I’ve played it a million times due to the repeated engine. Still, once the “EC-Dub”-ness of it wears off, which it does rather quickly, it’s just the same old Warzone Engine without so much as a lick of new paint…

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