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Review by: Mike Laidlaw
Published: January 20, 2001
The “E” in ECW stands for “Extreme,” and it’s rare to find an adjective that so perfectly fits its subject. Extreme Championship wrestling was, in its heyday, the outer limits of good taste in professional sports. While the WCW and WWF were reveling in their extensive plots, the wrestlers of the ECW were breaking limbs, diving from balconies, bleeding profusely and using language that would make sailors blush. Even though the ECW has lost a lot of its star talent over the years to the larger federations, wrestling fans will still have an annual dose of gaming goodness as the titles based on their favorite sport body slam their way onto consoles. Following up last year’s ECW Hardcore Revenge, Acclaim has borrowed the name of a Pay-Per-View event to create ECW Anarchy Rulz for the Dreamcast.
The usual things to expect in an update are a newer roster and some A.I. tweaks. ECW Anarchy Rulz, however, ignores this standard (hence, the anarchy, I suppose) and presents its players with a staggering number of possible matches. To begin with, there are three basic modes of play: Exhibition, Career and Tournament. Exhibition matches are one-off combats that offer the most variety of all the modes. Career, as might be expected, allows the player to guide one wrestler, a tag team, or even a stable of wrestlers through an entire season. The ultimate goal is to battle all the way to the World Heavyweight Championship title, though lesser titles may be picked up along the way. Defending those newly acquired belts becomes a priority during the climb to the pinnacle of the ECW, and there are even special Pay-Per-View matches scattered over the season in which success is particularly impressive to the fans. Providing a mid-range on the duration scale, the Tournament mode is a series of one-on-one matches that include up to 16 wrestlers battling their way to the top.
Within these three modes resides one of the most diverse sets of match combinations known to man. The number of wrestlers can vary from two to four legally in the ring at once in various combinations. ECW Anarchy Rulz supports tag teams, the classic four man battle royale and even unfair matchups like two-on-one, three-on-one or even two tag teams against one tag team. Two of the more exotic matches are unique to the ECW: A Lumberjack mode pits two wrestlers head-to-head, with another two waiting outside the ring to assault anyone who climbs into or is thrown out of the ring. Tornado matches pit two teams of two wrestlers in the ring at the same time until only one team remains. Beyond this, many of the matches feature elimination versions in which simply beating one opponent is insufficient and victory requires the defeat of all comers.
If this is not enough variety for ECW fans, there’s still more deviltry afoot in the form of match options. A Deathmatch, for instance, will make weapons available during the contest and ignore the count out rules, while a Brimstone match places a circle of fiery embers around the ring and demands that the opposition be tossed out of the proverbial frying pan for a wrestler to claim victory. Classics such as the Cage match also make an appearance in ECW Anarchy Rulz, and there’s even a ringless option called the Backlot Brawl. Even these situations may be further modified by demanding that the losing wrestler submit rather than be pinned, or requiring the winner to meet the victory conditions two out of three times before calling the match is his favor.
Proving that Acclaim has gone out of its way to offer a comprehensive experience, it’s possible to custom build a wrestler or group of wrestlers. Pretty much everything about the new character’s appearance can be altered in some way, including the color of each item. Further, a new wrestler’s moves may be hand picked on an individual basis, ensuring that they are created in your image of the ideal. Another option allows the configuration of a stable of wrestlers. Up to four members may be bound together with their own colors, theme music and icon, and then entered into the Career mode, where they will work together to seize control of the ECW, just as the NWO managed to wrest control of the WCW a few years back. The player may also turn his or her mighty hand to the creation of a full Pay-Per-View event. Up to eight matches may be designated with specific wrestlers and conditions, and a particular stadium may be modified to match the overall theme.
For those without a creative streak, over 60 wrestlers have been included in ECW Anarchy Rulz, though some are initially locked away. Current fan favorites like Justin Credible make their appearance, along with long-time ECW members like the memorably named Super Crazy. More information on the “outlaws of the ECW” can be found at the thoughtfully included Bio Room, which holds all the vital statistics of your favorite wrestlers, including their signature moves.
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