Professional wrestling has long been maligned and celebrated as a place where spandex-clad ogre-men go to act out contrived rivalries and pretend to actually wrestle. While these simplifications certainly hit on some truths about "sports entertainment," the remarkable talents and impressive athleticism of its practitioners cannot be denied. If you're the kind of person who enjoys the high-flying, hard-hitting spectacle of pro wrestling in spite of its myriad absurdities, then TNA Impact may be the game for you. It has some aggravating problems, but it does a great job of translating the excitement of TNA Wrestling into fluid action and visceral fun.
A wrestling game is only as fun as the moves you can perform, and in this regard, TNA Impact does quite well. You ratchet up your basic punch and kick attacks by holding the strong modifier or by performing them from a run or in a grapple. This simple layering allows for a wide range of moves without requiring complex button combinations, so it's easy to unleash your nastiest attacks right from the get-go. Each move makes you feel powerful, from a backhand that sends your opponent staggering to a DDT that lays him out. You can also reverse almost any attack with a well-timed button press, and many reversals can be reversed again. The accessible variety of attacks, the crashing impact of each clout, and the ever-looming possibility of reversals make the action fast, furious, and fun.
AJ Styles goes about liberating some of Shark Boy's teeth.
The more you mix up your moves, the more likely you are to come across some of the game's many technical hitches. When the animations run smoothly, they look great and produce exceedingly satisfying impacts. When they don't quite line up, you see fists and feet clipping through torsos, as well as apparent misses registering as hits. These oddities, common to most modern wrestling games, are a minor distraction, and won't hinder your pugilistic endeavors.
The more frustrating glitches cause your character to perform unintended maneuvers, often with disastrous results. These are prone to surface in a few situations, the most frequent of which are transitions, such as when your character is getting up off the mat, climbing a turnbuckle, or exiting the ring. Because your attack changes depending on your opponent's position, you may often find yourself aiming to punch an enemy as soon as he stands up, only to execute an elbow drop and lay yourself out at his stomp-happy feet. You can also dodge grapples or attacks when you're near the edge of the ring because the animation of rolling out of the ring will often negate incoming moves. Then, there's the particularly tricky situation when your opponent is down near the edge of the ring. Climbing up on the turnbuckle, rolling out of the ring, and pinning an opponent are all mapped to the same button, which makes it very difficult to figure out how to position yourself to execute the action you want. In this case, you're better off avoiding those three actions altogether.