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I still very distinctly remember that length of time in my childhood sitting on the front porch armed with an old-fashioned PSP and just got lost in the fierce brawls in the ring of WWE. And the co-op battles between me and my brother were fond memories I still treasured to this day. In short, I might be very biased with this series for the personal value. But there’s one thing that I cannot deny – and many others, that this new installation on mobile of this legendary series: WWE Immortals has outdone itself owing up to its forerunner.
But that wasn’t my first impression when I caught wind of this game coming out on mobile. In case you don’t know, this is just not ‘another’ WWE game where wrestlers knock each other up with pure muscles behind every jarring punches and kicks that has became so classic by now. Instead, WWE Immortals takes the same concept … and gave it one hell of a dose of fictional steroid. Characters – real wrestlers you would see on TV – turned into heroes and witches that would make the Avengers turn tail and rush for their money.
Yes, they now have magic. The kind that you could only find in titles such as Mortal Kombat.
… and speaking of which, did you know that this game is co-developed also by MK Studio along with WWE? That kind of explains this radical twist, and how the game is basically what would happen when you smash Mortal Kombat and the ordinary WWE SmackDown vs. RAW together.
Unlike the traditional game, this one also has a coherent story line. Which was told in the introductory cutscene the moment you entered the game as a new player. It goes by how the Authority managed to open portals to other dimensions while trying (?) to wield the power of dark magic. Which gave them access to WWE wrestlers, who, instead A-list entertainers, are witches, warriors, heroes, and barbarians. The developers really took their imaginations and put them into good use. Now you would be able to find Diva Brie Bella shooting ice out of her hands and freezing foes left and right. Or John Cena wrapped himself up in a superhero cape and took off saving the day.
You can see just why I was initially very sceptic of this concept. Aiming too high, too radical and you will face the risk of flopping straight into the ground. As you can see, this is out of precedent that would require very good execution and meticulous focus in both design and development.
Fortunately, they have managed to do just that against the odds.
If you are familiar with wrestling games, it starts pretty simple: You assemble a trio (Team of three), and you either pitch them against AI fighters, or face off against online players. The AI in this game is pretty competence. Although they were admittedly a bit dumb in the first few levels, they get smarter the more you play. Soon enough you will be struggling to dodge rapid fire of moves, then curse as every single one of your attacks are either dodged or blocked. But I really don’t mind that, after all, it’s what makes games like this so fun.
In term of development difficulty, the most difficult problem the studios have to solve would be the interface and the combat mechanics. Mobile does not leave a lot of room or flexibility for you to go in-depth into the combat like on a console’s controller, or even PC’s keyboard. You are constrained by a single patch of screen real estate that relies entirely on touch.
That’s the reason why the controls within this game is so … watered down.
Only three gestures to control your character. A basic tap to do the fundamental combat moves such as punch or kick. And press two fingers onto the screen to do a blocking motion. Once you have landed enough hit onto the enemy, the game will prompt you to swipe across the screen to execute a ‘heavy attack’. Though it doesn’t really do a lot of damage to the enemy’s health bar, it does one good which is knocking them over. Giving you the precious time to deal some extra damage.
Honestly, most of the time I didn’t even know what I was doing. Since there’s no ‘Move’ button like on console and there’s only ‘Fight’ function, you don’t really have to thought out tactics or smooth moves. Good ole’ me tapped the screen darn near to the point of cracking just to win fight after fight for the storm of punches, kicks, and special moves that my character churned out for each tap. The more you fight and land hits, the more ‘Stamina’ – represented by the stamina bar on top – build up. And once they’ve reached a certain threshold … yeah, you can guess it, you would be able to execute a special manoeuvre.
These manoeuvres are super comical, no pun intended. Triple H (or ‘Skull King’ in the game) summoned a sledgehammer out of nowhere and swat his opponent a good ten feet into the air before giving them a pound back to ground good enough that it cracked. It is with these moves that you can see the involvement of MK Studio with the game’s development. These moves, and finishing moves, almost felt like they were ripped from Mortal Kombat.
But life’s not that good. When you started the game, you only have one special move. If you want better ones that look better and deal more damage, you have to unlock them.
Either grind your life and time away or buy them through micro-transaction. You can buy cards including new characters, moves, upgrades, and equipment from this shop. Even though it is not particularly expensive on their own, they can be addicting enough that you would eventually find yourself pouring dozens into the game. But if you don’t have that kind of money to spare, it is, unfortunately, like any other mobile games else: It will take you a mighty long time to unlock truly special characters and moves. Might take hours, might take days – the time that you don’t necessarily have, or even by then, you had grown bored of the game.
Nonetheless, I don’t really have the heart to complain. This is an irrefutable reality of mobile games: There’s always going to be a shop, and you either have to pay with your time, or your money.
But overall, however, the game is not bad despite my initial suspicion. Like I said, they really have outdone themselves testing the water out with this new concept, and the inclusion of MK Studio, I think, is the reason why this game had gotten so many positive reviews and my personal thumb up. For once this series is going somewhere different, and how much more different do you want than Randy Orton shooting venom out of his mouth and choke people just with his tongue?