Wrestler: Unstoppable (Facebook)
Developer: Rocket Ninja
I’ll admit that I’m generally weary of social media games that pop up on Facebook. I’ve tried FarmVille and CityVille, and a few others, and just can’t get into them. So the idea of a wrestling game on Facebook just didn’t seem that appealing to me when I first heard about it. But being a gamer and a wrestling fan, and seeing that I run a gaming and wrestling orientated website, I had to just see what Wrestler: Unstoppable was like. And after initially spending a little bit of time with it, I wrote up a little preview and recommended that readers check the game out. That was June 5th, and after spending some more time with it, I’m ready to write my review of it. (This review sees the debut of our new 5-star rating scale specifically for social media and downloadable titles, and DLC content, since this material can’t accurately be measured using our standard 10 point scale for retail games. Full guide for this new scale will be published within the week.)
Using Rocket Ninja’s Shr3D engine, Wrestler: Unstoppable can be played in a 3D mode where you can see the moves being performed by the wrestlers. These animations can be a little clunky and slow, but that’s perfectly understandable given the Facebook platform and it really doesn’t hinder gameplay at all. That’s because the game is turn based;almost like a card game. And let’s be honest, whether you hear it’s in 3D or not, that’s really what you should expect when you play a Facebook game. If you think just because its in 3D that you’re going to be controlling your character like you’re playing a Smackdown vs. RAW, then you just don’t understand the reality of Facebook gaming of this type.
Wrestler: Unstoppable actually started in 2D, and you can still toggle back and forth between the 3D and 2D. With 2D you will not see the moves being performed, but the gameplay is still the exact same: there’s health and momentum meters to watch and you’ll want to pay attention to these things and perform moves that you have a realistic shot of connecting with to keep your turn going for as long as possible. There’s a lot of depth here and strategy in picking your moveset, and this depth actually surprised me. Rocket Ninja has really crafted a solid turn based wrestling strategy game that is much deeper than you would initially expect it to be, even if it takes time to really get into it.
Your wrestler is fully customizable with outfits, its size, tattoos, gender, etc. Of course these customizations are heavy on the micro-transactions by purchasing stuff with either in-game coins or by using real money to purchase “Wrestler Bucks.” This is a pretty standard system for free to play and social media games and should be completely understandable by all as a necessity to the games continued existence.
Matches take place against real opponents, and the system finds these opponents surprisingly fast. It’s called “Instamatch” for a reason I guess, as it literally connects you with an opponent instantly (although it can take a little while to find a match within a company that you join). There’s not a lot that can be said about the matches themselves; it’s all turn based and your move either connects and you get to keep going or you miss/get countered and it switches to your opponents turn. You have 5 minutes total, so the matches will never go on too long. I’ve won two matches by my opponents time running out, and somehow lost a match this way (I say somehow because I was actually in another match at the time, one that I coincidentally won by timeout). The only real problem I have with the game is the moves and how you go about unlocking them.
You have five categories: speed, strength, stamina, agility, and intelligence. You’ll need to train to increase your level in each category. To unlock new, and much better moves, you’ll need high levels throughout these five categories, which attaining can be tedious if you don’t spend money and just play casually. This means you’re probably going to get creamed in your first few matches, especially since I don’t believe there’s a way to match up against other players at your level or skill set exactly. I remember my first match against a human player, and I got slaughtered pretty quickly and may have only had two turns. I felt like enhancement talent being fed to a main-eventer in a minute squash match. But hey, it’s wrestling… that’s just paying dues right? If anything, it just serves to make you aware that there is a strategy and depth to the game.
Wrestler: Unstoppable also features some really cool social features beyond just having a random match with another player. You can join companies (I’m in Moose Jaw Wrestling School for players level 0 to 10), and create/join stables. There’s championships to win, and tournaments to enter. You can publish press releases regarding your wrestling (for 200 coins) and create and participate in storylines. In short, there’s a lot to do here and a really active community driving it all that is really serious about this game, and that’s great to see. Once you start playing around with it, you quickly discover that Wrestler: Unstoppable really has a lot to offer and it’s fun whether you’re winning or losing.
Rocket Ninja is doing a great job of supporting their game with new content and features. The big 3D mode came in May, and another strong feature that adds to that 3D mode came shortly after I wrote my preview, and that’s sounds. The sounds are made up of crowd noises and the impact of the moves, and these generally sound decent. It’s a nice a bonus for the game’s 3D style that can help draw you into the experience. When I wrote my preview I didn’t really even think of sounds when I was playing to miss it, but playing after that update and hearing them, it definitely adds to it.
I’m not a big Facebook user and the only reason I even have an account was to comment on feedback for columns I wrote for another site and to test out some of the games I heard a lot about. I’m never going to be a big Facebook user or a Facebook gamer, but Wrestler: Unstoppable is the second Facebook game that I have played and actually enjoyed for more than 5 minutes (the other being Assassin’s Creed: Project Legacy). I like it and will continue to play it, although I will never be hardcore about it like a lot of its players are (I’m casual), but if you are a wrestling fan and you do like Facebook games, then I definitely recommend that you add the Wrestler: Unstoppable app and begin playing. It’s already good, but Rocket Ninja has shown that they are committed to improving it so it’s only going to get better.
Score: 3 out of 5
(3′s are a good, solid game. They may not be for everyone, but fans of the genre should enjoy them.)
NEW REVIEW SCALE (2/18/12):