The Monday Night Wars in the mid-to-late 90s was an incredibly turbulent and interesting period of time for wrestling fans. While WWF and WCW were battling it out for ratings supremacy on Monday nights, another promotion was slowly building a cult following with their edgier attitude and considerably more violent matches. Yes, Paul Heyman’s ECW was an underground phenomenon that saw the start of many legendary in-ring careers, and posed a viable alternative to people who were sick of the two big companies in the business.
Although the promotion was around since 1992, it wasn’t until 2000 that it got its own video game. Acclaim, who had just lost their prized WWF license to THQ, were in search of a new wrestling promotion to create a games series for. With EA and THQ taking over WCW and WWF games respectively, Acclaim snatched up ECW and began work on the promotions debut video game; ECW Hardcore Revolution.
Released in January/February 2000 for Nintendo 64, Sony PlayStation, Sega Dreamcast and the Game Boy Color, ECW Hardcore Revolution closely followed the same formula as Acclaim’s final WWF game, WWF Attitude, both in terms of how the game looked and how the game handled. When I say “closely followed”, I really mean “100% copied”. If you played WWF Attitude (which we’ll be covering in the not-too-distant future), then you’ve pretty much played ECW Hardcore Revolution.
The game boasts an impressively sized roster, featuring 36 immediately selectable wrestlers, featuring ECW favourites such as Rob Van Dam, Sabu and Tommy Dreamer. Throw in the fact that Acclaim’s create-a-wrestler mode returns, and that there’s a handful of secret wrestlers to unlock (should you manage to persevere long enough), then that’s a lot of talent to choose from.
There’s not a whole lot to say about the presentation of the game during matches, other than that the arenas look decent enough (if not a bit dated by 2000’s standards) and the crowd looks absolutely abysmal. The wrestlers have been improved slightly, with the addition of bruises, scars and welts on the skin textures making things feel slightly more “extreme” than its competition, but it doesn’t really do enough to make Hardcore Revolution feel like a worthwhile purchase.
The movement of the wrestlers has also seen an increase in speed and fluidity, and while this sounds like it would improve things, it actually makes it tougher to pull off moves with any degree of success. All it really accomplishes is making a difficult and awkward control scheme slightly faster.
Hardcore Revolution does boast a respectable amount of match types to try out, ranging from the standard one-on-one VS. match to more specialised match styles such as the barbed wire match. None of these offer any real variety in gameplay, other than the number of wrestlers in the ring at any given time. The supposedly “extreme” matches are especially deflating, with the barbed wire contests being a prime example, due to the wire being practically identical to any other surface that opponents can be irish whipped into, save a couple of seconds delay. No getting stuck in the wire, no effect on the blood; just a turgid excuse for a “special” match type.
Fans of the promotion who expect to see the high-flying action and absolute carnage caused by weapons that ECW became know for will be sorely disappointed by Hardcore Revolution, as the moves mainly consist of incredibly slow lockups of armbars and sluggish punches. Hearing the crowd in the game chanting “ECW!” over and over again while I simply stomped on my opponent a few times was not only jarring, but showcased just how lazily put together Hardcore Revolution is.
At least we have the extensive Create-A-Wrestler mode to help Hardcore Revolution redeem itself, right? Sort of. If you haven’t played WWF Attitude, then there’s some fun to be had here. Create-A-Wrestler mode is always a positive element when surrounded by so many negatives, it’s just a shame that the mode is in this particular game. Creating a wrestler? Fun! Playing a match as that created wrestler? Not fun!
Overall, ECW Hardcore Revolution is only worth revisiting for a small dose of nostalgia, as the game itself is just a carbon copy of WWF Attitude (just with ECW wrestlers instead), which was already a very disappointing game, with every single one of its many flaws left intact. With other wrestling games such as WWF Smackdown! and WWF Wrestlemania 2000 pushing the boundaries of the genre, there was really no excuse for this game to be so bad.
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