When Midway's“TNA Impact!” game, which was based off the TNA Wrestling organization, debuted for every modern console in 2008, including the decrepit PS2 (Seriously, how many more games are going to out for that system?), no handheld versions were released. When Midway filed for bankruptcy and ceased operations in 2009, many wondered if there would ever be a new TNA wrestling game again, let alone one for the PSP.
SouthPeak Games swooped the TNA license out of limbo in November 2009 and announced that their first game, “TNA Impact!: Cross the Line,” would be exclusively for the PSP and Nintendo DS. And now, the game is on store shelves, waiting for you to body slam and hurricanrana your way to the TNA World Title.
The PSP version is a port of Midway's “TNA Impact” with some elements added and some removed. The gameplay mechanics are identical. “X” and “Square” unleash kicks and punches, “Triangle” performs grappling moves such as suplexes and neckbreakers and “Circle” is the jack-of-all-trades action button, which allows you to climb the ropes, tag a partner, etc. Hold the “L” button while pressing one of these buttons to create “strong” moves, which are harder to perform, but inflict more damage. When the “Impact!” meter fills up, get your opponent into a strong grapple by holding “L” and “Triangle” together, then pressing “Circle.”
Everything is peachy keen except for the reversal system. Since the PSP has two fewer shoulder buttons than console controllers do, the reversal button was remapped to the “Down” arrow on the directional pad. The analog stick and down arrow are so close that they may, in fact, be brothers. This means that you have to use the same finger to move the character and reverse moves, which was already hard to begin with since the margin for reversals is very thin.
Even with that in mind, the gameplay is solid and feels like an arcade game, which is what Midway was superb at. The animations are stellar and truly capture the speed and feel of high-quality wrestling matches (not the slack-jawed, over weight guys you see “wrestling” at your local fire hall). The Ultimate X match is the greatest addition to wrestling video games since the entire AKI Wrestling game series for the Nintendo 64. In this circus-meets-wrestling match, wrestlers must climb across cables connected over the ring in a giant “X” shape to capture a giant “X” located in the center. Wrestlers can knock each other off the ropes and jump from the corner to knock their opponents off the steel cables. It is easily the best mode in the game. Besides this match, the standard single and tag matches are available. There is also a weapons match called “Full Metal Mayhem,” “Gauntlet;” which is a survival-style match where you must defeat a number of opponents back-to-back and the “Super X Cup,” a tournament.
One feature that was on the console versions, but is not in the micro version is the create-a-wrestler feature. This is a bummer since the story mode focuses around building a new wrestler after the main character's former identity, the masked TNA champion known as Suicide (who, believe it or not, is marketed toward kids), is nearly beaten to death by LAX, dumped in Mexico and received amnesia as a result. The self-proclaimed “Silver Fox,” Kevin Nash, even has a line during a cutscene saying that the locker room menu is a good place to spruce up your look.
More characters were added since the “CAW” feature is missing . Wrestling legend Mick Foley (Also known as Mankind, Cactus Jack, Dude Love and the guy that only has half an ear), Apollo Creed-esque Consequence Creed, other TNA wrestlers and a host of made-up wrestlers are unlockable. Foley, however, is an exact copy of Abyss' moveset, so do not expect him to use the mandible claw or double-arm DDT.
Creed, Foley, the other unlockables and the rest of the roster posess another problem. They all fight according to their classification, making them feel more like clones than unique entities. Basically, there are three classes of wrestlers: X Division (The high-flying, suicidal crazy dudes), brawlers (The guys that love to stomp the ground with their foot when they punch you.) and standard wrestlers (The guys that use actual pro wrestling moves.). Each wrestler within the same classification utilizes nearly the same moves and AI, so AJ Styles and Creed (Both X Division wrestlers) wrestle the exact same way and have almost identical movesets, except for a few moves that AJ is known for, most notably his “Styles Clash” finisher.
The graphics are nearly phenomenal (No AJ Styles pun intended) for the PSP. There are a few smudged textures on wrestler's trunks and tights, but the game looks like the PS2 version shrunken down into a handheld. It means that anyone who never played the PS2 or next-gen (I guess current-gen systems now) versions are not missing out on playing a decently-graphically TNA Wrestling game.
“TNA Impact!: Cross the Line” allows players to take the TNA Wrestling world on the road with them as they go to Orlando to see a taping of Impact! or while they're stuck in an airport line, frothing at the mouth because a TSA agent wants them to take off their shoes. Ad Hoc mode allows two players with their own PSP and copy of the game to play against each other in one-on-one matches, which is a fine addition for family and friends. I do wish that there were more moves, so that each character felt unique because many of them feel like doppelgangers.
A newer roster update would have been nice since Ric Flair, Hulk Hogan (who is in the DS version!) and a host of other grapplers who appear on the Spike TV show every week are missing. If the create-a-wrestler was kept in, players could have at least created these new additions themselves, but they cannot since it is missing. “TNA Impact!: Cross the Line” is a good game in its own right. It will make a great base to start a TNA Wrestling game franchise off of. Since SouthPeak ported the game from the consoles, it means that they did not tweak a lot of it. This is most likely because they wanted to get a handheld version out in a timely manner, which they did, considering it only took seven months for the game to come out since it was announced. There is a rumor that SouthPeak is working on a sequel, “TNA Impact!: 2011,” which would come out in the Spring of 2011, but the rumor comes from a wrestling rumor website, they fib more than a husband saying to their wife that they enjoy the “Twilight” films.