I had a chance to play through the new Hulk Hogan title, but before I begin the review, if you’ve looked me up on Xbox Live, you will see my motto is “It is what it is”. That exactly describes the Hulk Hogan title, although it’s description states differently:
Hulk Hogan became one of wrestling’s biggest legends by becoming one of its best showmen. Learn from one of the all-time greats in this game where Hogan teaches you how to work over opponents and really shows you how to work the crowd. Create and customize your own wrestler from the entrance music down to the tattoos. Learn from the Hulkster as he teaches you his most punishing combos (folding chairs included!) and crowd-pleasing antics. Test your skills in nine venues, as you move from a homemade backyard ring to a fully-packed stadium. Have a friend join you in Hulkamania 101 and form an unstoppable tag-team combo.
Let me first contradict the description before going into the actual review. Hogan teaches you nothing, the game teaches you gestures to use to play the game, the crowd is not a factor. You can create a wrestler and somewhat customize them, but if you are looking for the level of the WWE titles, stick to WWE. Again, you learn nothing from Hogan, you just learn the gestures to use. There’s really not much skill involved in the game as you are prompted to do certain gestures at certain times. Lastly, your friend can play, however you take turns, not sure what this tag-team is about. With that clarified, onto the review!
Just a FYI, I’m a system administrator for my fulltime job, so I have a tendency to reverse engineer things to understand how they work so I can fix them. I have a tendency to do that with video games as well, to understand why they were made. I cannot figure out why Hogan was made, it’s not as awful as some other titles, but it is boring. I’m not sure if the developer was tasked with a project that someone came up with, or Hogan himself said I want a video game, or if they came up with this idea themselves. The game does have most basic wrestling moves, such as a chokeslam, backbreaker, pile driver, DDT’s, etc. There are no advanced moves like Huricarana’s or anything of the sort so don’t expect spectacular.
Although the gameplay itself is so-so in my opinion, the developer did take the time to make sure the controls work right and they were able to recognize a good menu when they seen one, that menu being Dance Central. The menu is almost an exact replica, I have a hunch we’ll be seeing the DC menu in more and more games, probably because it works the best. The menu does actually work better than Just Dance 3’s replica so they put a little more effort into it than Ubisoft.
The menu itself consists of 3 main areas; Game Modes, Create A Wrestler, and Extras. Just a heads up if you do play this game, whatever character you have at the menu, is your “created” character. You cannot choose from a roster of wrestlers, you can only use a created wrestler. My advice, create a wrestler first so you can choose your preferences.
Create A Wrestler
This section is decent, it’s not as in-depth as WWE’s titles, however we are playing a Kinect title so it is more than I expected. You can change your body features such as shape, size, hair, tattoos, etc. You can also change gear, which includes pants, shirts, shoes, gloves, hats, knee and elbow pads, belts, and wraps. Another option allows you to change colors. You can define skin color, clothing colors, hair, eyes, and tattoos as well.
Your last option is your wrestlers bio. There is an unexpected in here that is cool at first, then gets old. First you can name your wrestler. These are pre-determined nicknames that the announcer uses, you cannot create your own names. The second option is choosing your wrestler’s home town, which is announced as well during your entrance.
The last option, which I didn’t get at first until I played my first match, is voice. I was assuming it was like WWE where you could choose your wrestler’s voice, but it’s not at all. It takes advantage of Kinect’s voice feature. There is a phrase and 3 interview questions. The phrase sort of makes sense, but not all wrestlers use phrases, such as The Rock’s “Do You Smell What The Rock Is Cookin’?” or Stone Cold’s, “Cause Stone Cold Said So”. You record your own voice and state a phrase, let me give you another hint, don’t choose something annoying as it becomes repeated over and over. The interview questions make no sense. A question asked, “Why does everyone fear you when you enter the ring?” – I replied with “Because I’m scary!”. I saved my options and continued into the game.
I began my career with my newly created wrestler and the career starts in a comic book view. Characters say phrases just like a comic. After the short comic introduction, you are in a wrestling area called the Backyard Feud, which is more or less a straight up backyard wrestling ring. You proceed out of a backdoor of a house and then the game starts shooting you through its tutorials. The first tutorial explains you have to match certain poses. There is a cue card with Hulk doing the motion of the pose that you have to match.
Most of us wrestling fans don’t mind entrances, however the entrances in this game are ridiculously long with all of the poses it has you doing. I believe I counted 6 in the first one. The object with the poses is to match them as quick as possible. The sooner you match the pose, the more points you receive. The whole rating system is based on a scoring method, so your only objective during the poses is to match as many as quick as possible. It’s actually quite simple and becomes boring, luckily there are a few to keep you occupied. As you progress further in the career, they surprise you by making the entrance sequences even longer.
That surprise is fans that don’t like you, throw trash at you, NICE! You have to either lean to the left or to the right or crouch down to avoid the trash. Avoiding all of the trash in one entrance scene will earn you an achievement. Overall, later on in the game, entrances will take you around 5-10 minutes to complete. I don’t think that’s acceptable but to some, they may like it as it could be regarded as an important part of the whole wrestling theater.
Progressing through the career mode allows you to complete the game, and in doing so, you unlock additional gear, game modes, and arenas so there is some stuff to unlock although one time through will unlock everything and you will get a dreadful feeling of playing through a career mode twice, once will probably be enough for most people. The good news is if you fail anything, you can retry it without starting everything over.
If you like achievements, one achievement requires that you play career mode through the hardcore difficulty, but you cannot unlock this difficulty until you play it through once on “Average Joe” difficulty. Hardcore is not much more difficult than the normal mode, so if you can suffer through it twice, then you deserve the achievements.
The complete career mode took me 2 1/2 hours to complete. It’s not a very long game and your feet will become tired because you don’t use them that much. I am at the point where I am ready to walk/run in place so my feet don’t get tired. I can dance for hours upon hours (thank you Dance Central, Just Dance 3 and the likes) because my feet are moving, but these standing games make them sore from no motion.
The arenas you unlock include 9 different ones. They range from a backyard ring to the “Clash of Champions” ring which is a want to be Wrestlemania event. The story itself is mediocre at best, but it is a typical wrestling story. I won’t spoil it, but at the very end, it states To Be Continued – even though I’m not sure if its necessary to continue it.
The actual method of gameplay works like this; a match begins with your entrance and posing, and then you complete a set of “stunts” which involve different wrestling modes. The modes are explained under the Quick Play Mode section. The last stunt always involves pinning the opponent, which is your indication that the match is almost over. During the different stunts, you are queued to different motions/gestures to match the Hulk Hogan cue cards. Completing these in succession progresses and completes the stunt section. Once you defeat your opponent, you are then rated using a 5 star system and scoring basis, I did notice scoring doesn’t affect your star rating. I believe the stars are rated based on your innovative gameplay method, meaning mix up your moves, as I had a score of 4 million and still only received 5 stars.
Quick Play Mode
In quick play mode, it allows you quick access to the “stunts” or different gameplay modes instead of making you play in planned events like the career mode. I will get into the gameplay with each mode to explain how it all works. The first mode in the list is Aerial Assault. Aerial assault starts you off with your wrestler on the top turnbuckle. The opponent is moving left to right. You have to turn your body/shoulders to aim at the opponent. There is a cue card on what motion you have to do, failing to do the indicated motion/gesture will make you fail the stunt and you have the option to retry. Once you line up your opponent and replicate the required gesture, you perform your move and it lands in slow motion. This knocks your opponent out and you complete it, or progress to the next stunt in career mode. It is by far, the shortest and easiest stunt to complete.
The next event is called Beat Down. Beat down has your opponent in a complete daze the whole time so you do not have to worry about him hitting you back. You have about 8 different moves you can do; kicking, kneeing, punching and elbowing. I will warn you, in the career mode, there is a bug in this mode and it’s the 4th and 3rd wrestler to the end of the career. Their stamina bar refills faster than you can hit them and cause damage. I found the only way to defeat them was to kick as fast as possible, left leg-right leg combo, it took forever but you will eventually beat them. This one section will cause a lot of frustration with folks.
Next is the Body Slam stunt. Your opponent is dazed for the entire stunt again and your objective is to reach out in front of you, lift him up over your head and match whichever gesture the cue card has. You will notice a lot of repetition with the stunts, there’s only 3-4 moves you do, so it seems like it takes awhile to get your opponents stamina bar down.
A more fun stunt, Chair Hit, has you first getting hit with a chair. You have to block each attack and counter attack to loosen up your opponents grip. Once he gives up the chair, you grab it and pretend to hold it over your head and then can proceed to smash it into your opponent in 1 of 3 different directions. It’s always good times to hit someone with a chair!
Choke Slam is one of the annoying events. It has to do with walking so slow. First, your opponent will charge at you. You reach out your arm and pretend to grab his neck much like Undertaker/Big Show/Kane. After you grab him, you have to lift him up like you are going to choke slam him. Now, your objective is to hold him up in the air (you do have to hold your arm up, I tested holding it at chest level and it dropped him down, so you need it up, on an angle the whole time towards Kinect) while avoiding him trying to kick or punch you. If he kicks, your cue card will give you an indication of which side he will kick and you have to move him to the opposite side. The final objective is to make it all the way to the other side of the ring, so you can throw him over. Your character will walk on his own but only if you are holding your arm out forward and up. Once you reach the other side of the ring, you have to lift up and throw down and you will choke slam him.
The Grapple stunt is another annoying one. You have to block your opponents attack, then attempt to punch/grab your opponent as quick as possible. It only works about 1 out of every 5 attempts. Once grappled you have to do another motion to weaken your opponent. Once his stamina is depleted, you will complete this stunt.
The Irish Whip can be fun. You will start out by Irish Whipping your opponent into the ropes and then there’s a delay when he comes running back at you. At this point you will be directed to either clothesline him, trip him or punch him in the face. (Note: one of the achievements requires Hulk Hogan’s Big Boot, simple kick instead of punching and you will get the achievement) After about 6 beat downs, your opponent will reverse it and then you have to dodge his attacks by leaning left or right, crouching or jumping. After several misses, you will switch back to offense to finish him.
Ladder Bash is another good one. You start out holding a ladder. Your opponent will either punch you high, or kick you low. It’s quite simple in that you just block high or low, and then you can either shove the ladder back at him, or actually swing it left or right to smack him upside his head. I didn’t test it out to see if he is able to reverse this one.
On The Ropes is one of the less favored stunts in my opinion. It’s complete defense. Your stamina is very low at the start and you are in a corner. You have to lean left or right to dodge his attacks. Dodging his attacks rebuilds your stamina. Once you get to a certain point, you are then able to block his attacks with your arms. Once you are fully charged, he then bull runs at you and all you have to do is either lean left, right or crouch and make him run into the corner post. That’s all there is to this one.
Pin To Win is the pinning portion but it has 2 parts. The first part is to soften up your opponent. You have to match the cue cards in this mode in order to do any damage. I’m not sure if its appropriate but there is a teabagging move that do you which I found quite comical. After your opponent is soft, you then go for the pin. You have to grab towards Kinect, and then left and right before he breaks out of the pin. After you weaken his stamina again, it’s finally 1-2-3.
The last stunt is Trade Blows which I found to be the most intuitive as well as most interesting. It’s basically an all out brawl. The fighting is not 1:1, however it’s very close. You can punch, kick and headbutt on offense, as well as blocking and jumping in this mode. Also in Trade Blows, you can purposely get beaten, and then you will turn on “Hulkamania” mode just like the Hulkster, this was different and good, you get to destroy your opponent once in this mode.
That’s all of the stunts, as you progress through the career mode you will experience all of these modes.
Exhibition mode allows you to choose a number set of pre-determined stunts. You can choose 3, 5, 7, 9 or an 11 stunt set. There’s really not much more to this mode.
Head To Head
Head To Head is the multiplayer mode, although it’s really not multiplayer at all. You and another player take turns trying to get the highest score in a 3-set stunt match. It alternates between each stunt, so 1 player will not take 20 minutes to complete a match, thankfully your friend will not be completely bored.
The last section includes the extras which has the basic things such as Achievements, Leaderboards and Credits. There’s also an option to reset the tutorials as tutorials are played at the beginning of each stunt, but then never again thankfully. This is a welcomed option. The last extra is an Unlock Code which I have no idea what it’s for, maybe we will see DLC for it?
I will mention, I’ve never played any other Panic Button title, but they are very good with developing the controls for Kinect. They have it to the point where Kinect is detecting if you are lifting up the correct knee. I tested it out as the cue card wanted my right knee lifted, but I lifted my left and it failed. The accuracy is great and it seemed the controls are more responsive than some other titles I’ve played by well-known publishers. This is why I am not sure why this game was made as they seem like they will be a good asset to making a quality Kinect title.
Graphics & Sound
As you may have seen from the screenshots, the graphics are really funky. The chair and ladder are in absolute high detail. The chair has rust on it, although it doesn’t dent when you hit your opponent. The wrestlers remind me of plastic toys, yet when they zoom in on them, you can see some detail like hair, muscle lines and I think veins. The crowd is graphically poor and the rings themselves don’t have too much realism to them. The arenas are mediocre. The music isn’t bad, it’s generic but not annoying. There is some american song at the end that I did not recognize. Hulk Hogan can become annoying as he turns into your mentor and throws random phrases out every now and then calling you dude and brother. There are some stabs to WWE such as a sign that says “Vince Who?” and your soon-to-be girlfriend calls you Jabroni! One of the names you can choose is “The Biz”, which may be a reference to The Miz.
It’s a mediocre game unfortunately. I didn’t know what to expect although I’m not blaming the developer. I have a guess they were asked to do this, but they seem to be really good with Kinect controls which is very welcomed. The gameplay doesn’t last long and there is no replay value. The graphics are sub-par for the most part, and it is repetitive.
What I did start thinking about though, maybe they sparked an interest for the regular wrestling titles. In the Trade Blows mode, being able to freestyle and just throw different moves at your opponent felt like it would be very enjoyable in a regular wresting title. I never though of, for example, WWE as a Kinect title as it just didn’t make sense, but after playing this game, it makes a lot of sense. There is just an issue of figuring out how to move your character around but a full-fledged wrestling title would be very cool.
If you want to see for yourself what a wrestling Kinect title may be like, this is probably a good example, but I would wait until it’s in the bargain bin. The current price is just too high right now.
This review is based on a retail copy of the Xbox 360 version of Hulk Hogan’s Main Event
Scoring policy: What do these game review scores actually mean?