WWF War Zone
|WWF War Zone|
Box art picturing Stone Cold Steve Austin along with his signature pose.
Probe Entertainment (Game Boy)
|Designer(s)||Tim Huntsman (N64/PS1)
Clark Westerman (N64/PS1)
Richard Reagan (N64/PS1)
Troy Leavitt (N64/PS1)
Jeff Robinson (N64/PS1)
James Daly (N64/PS1)
|Composer(s)||Tim Follin (GB version)|
|Release date(s)||Game Boy
WWF War Zone (also known as WWF Warzone) is a professional wrestling video game developed by Iguana West and released by Acclaim Entertainment in 1998 for the PlayStation, Nintendo 64, and Game Boy. The game features wrestlers from the World Wrestling Federation (WWF). Unlike Acclaim's previous WWF game, 1996's WWF in Your House, War Zone features characters represented by 3D models and a new grappling-based gameplay system. In addition to a single-player mode in which players challenge for various championships, WWF War Zone also includes various multiplayer modes and a create-a-wrestler mode that was extensive for its time. Its presentation, gameplay and create mode garnered the game positive critical reception. The game was also popular with players, becoming a best-selling and frequently rented title in the months after its release.
The game was followed by a sequel, WWF Attitude, released in 1999.
WWF War Zone features a gameplay system in which players must grapple with their opponent and perform a series of presses on the directional pad then a button press to perform wrestling maneuvers. WWF War Zone also features the audio commentary, provided by Vince McMahon and Jim Ross.
A variety of modes are available. The single player game is highlighted by the "WWF Challenge" mode in which the player selects a character and challenges for WWF titles by beating other wrestlers. Sometimes previously defeated wrestlers will challenge the player to a "Grudge match." These matches will usually be weapons or cage matches. After winning the championship, the player can then defend it against a series of challengers. Various multiplayer options are available such as a free-for-all, two-on-two cage matches, and tornado tag team matches. The game also has a number of unlockable features such as hidden characters. War Zone also includes a training mode in which the player can freely practice the moves of their chosen wrestler. Other gameplay options are also available exclusively in the Nintendo 64 version - gauntlet matches in which players challenge a series of opponents one after the other and Royal Rumble, in which the player must eliminate numerous wrestlers by throwing them over the top rope.  Exhibition matches against the computer can also be played, but the computer opponent is always chosen at random.
War Zone also has an create-a-player feature that for the time was quite extensive. It allows for players to create a custom wrestler, entering a name, customizing various attributes and choosing theme music. Wrestlers of both genders can be created, with various options for skin and muscle tone, as well as body type and in-ring apparel. Individual maneuvers cannot be chosen though and an entire set of moves must be copied from one of the game's existing wrestlers.
Versus - A regular match which pits 2-4 players against one another for a preset time limit. They can be won in 5 ways: successfully pinning the opponent for a 3 count, applying enough pressure in a 'Pain' submission hold, being inside the ring while the opponent is outside for a 10 count, having the most health when time expired. or finishing the match after someone interfered on behalf of the opponent. This is the only match type that enables outside interference, provided that there are only 2 players. Most matches in Career Mode are Versus matches.
Tag Team - These matches feature 2 teams of 2 players facing off. One member of each team is the "legal" (active) player, while the other is inactive on the apron. Players may switch team members at any time using the Tag function. The "illegal" (inactive) partner may assist in the match, but he is limited to 15 seconds of activity at a time. The match ends under normal win conditions involving both legal participants.
Cage - Cage matches see the ring ropes replaced with cage walls. The match can only be won by climbing over a cage wall. These kinds of matches sometimes appear as Grudge matches in Season Mode.
Hardcore - Similar to a Versus match, but the arena is littered with usable weapons. If any object is used or dropped a certain number of times, it will "break" and fade away. Members of the crowd will periodically throw new weapons into the arena. Some larger objects can inflict extra damage if moves are performed on top of them. Pins and submission attempts can also be used outside of the ring. There is no ring-out count. These sometimes feature as Grudge Matches in Career Mode.
Tornado - A tag team match in which all players are "legal" and can participate at the same time. Meeting the win conditions will only eliminate one opponent. To win, the win conditions must be met against both rivals.
Battle Royal - A singles match featuring 3 or 4 players. The first player to meet the win conditions over any opponent wins the match.
The game's main roster is composed of 18 wrestlers who were working for the WWF during the game's development, including some from Acclaim's previous WWF title WWF in Your House, such as The Undertaker, Goldust, and Ahmed Johnson. New characters were added, including Stone Cold Steve Austin, Kane, and Ken Shamrock. War Zone also features a number of different factions: D-Generation X is represented by Shawn Michaels and Triple H, while The Nation of Domination is represented by Faarooq and The Rock. Three members of The Hart Foundation were featured: Bret Hart, Owen Hart and The British Bulldog. Both members of The Headbangers (Mosh and Thrasher) were included, as were three of the personas of Mick Foley: Mankind, Cactus Jack, and Dude Love. The latter two were not available at first and needed to be unlocked.
In addition to 'Create-A-Wrestler' mode, which allows players to design their own character, there are 3 pre-made characters which can be unlocked. Trainer, who appears in Training Mode, has British Bulldog's moves set. Sue, the belt girl who appears in Season Mode when a championship has been won, has a moves set identical to Bret Hart. Rattlesnake is essentially a fifth attire for Steve Austin, but had maxed out attributes.
There had been rumours of two additional characters; including a second ring-girl 'Pamela', and one based on Turok, the titular character from the Turok: Dinosaur Hunter series. However, these characters could only be made playable via cheat device.
Early in development, the game was called WWF '98 and featured a different ring and arena. The development team for War Zone consisted of 20 people, 10 each working on the Nintendo 64 and PlayStation versions. Initial development on the game was begun on the PlayStation as developers waited to receive Nintendo 64 development kits. Space considerations of Nintendo 64 cartridges prevented developers from including the CD-quality audio and full motion video of wrestlers from the PlayStation version. Despite the limited cartridge space, lead programmer Justin Towns (who had previously worked on WWF WrestleMania: The Arcade Game and WWF In Your House for Acclaim) found the Nintendo 64's z-buffering support and the faster speed in creating cartridges over burning CDs to be advantageous during the development process. The game took roughly a year and a half to develop.
Parts of the War Zone game engine were taken from another Acclaim Sports title, NHL Breakaway. One of the developers who worked on Breakaway, John Lund developed the "soft skin" technology that allowed characters to be rendered using models without seam lines. For the PlayStation version, they used 3D models with more polygons and larger textures. Reduced polygon models and smaller textures were used during four wrestler matches in the PlayStation versions, while the Nintendo 64 used the same models for all matches. Developers found they were able to run the game at up to 640x240 resolution and maintain a constant 30 frames per second. The development team aimed to create a simulation-oriented experience, but with faster gameplay. Motion capture for the game was done by several wrestlers not working for any major professional wrestling promotion, who performed the various moves that were included in the game. Some maneuvers were dropped from the final game due to space and gameplay considerations. WWF announcers Vince McMahon and Jim Ross recorded over an hour's worth of speech for the game's match commentary.
Game Boy game
A Game Boy version of War Zone developed by Probe Entertainment was released in June 1998. Modes of play include singles, tag team and WWF Challenge. There is also an option to set the difficulty level and length of matches. The game includes some of the wrestlers from the other versions, including Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold Steve Austin, The Undertaker and Kane. All wrestlers share the same moves except for their finishing moves.
The console versions of the game were met with positive reception, though the Game Boy version's reception was mixed. GameRankings gave it a score of 84.93% for the Nintendo 64 version; 80.30% for the PlayStation version; and 52% for the Game Boy version.
Jeff Gerstmann of GameSpot complimented the gameplay and graphics and called the Nintendo 64 version the best wrestling game on the system. He called the PlayStation version the "best wrestling package ever released and shouldn't be missed by anyone with even a passing interest in wrestling." IGN's Douglass C. Perry complimented said version's presentation, speed of the gameplay and the in-depth create-a-wrestler mode in his review of the PlayStation version. Perry wrote that the game encompassed everything gamers were looking for in the wrestling game genre. Anthony Baize of AllGame wrote that said version was "able to set itself aside from other games in the genre and offer players some newer, innovative options." Matt Casamassina also praised the game's graphics in his review of the Nintendo 64 version, calling it "the best looking wrestling game ever made." While he faulted the game for its collision detection, static cutscenes and small selection of wrestlers, he recommended the game and anticipated the release of a sequel. Tim Hsu of Game Revolution also offered praised for the N64 version's presentation, multiplayer options and create-a-wrestler mode. However, he expressed disappointment with its limited single-player mode. Nevertheless, he wrote that the game was good enough that it might even appeal to gamers who were not fans of professional wrestling.
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We used "soft-skin" models [polygon models without seam-lines], high poly-count models
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