Two years ago, TNA iMPACT! debuted on home consoles with a fair amount of hype, but ultimately underperformed in every way. The PSP incarnation was set for an ’09 release, but shelved with the demise of Midway. Thanks to its resurrection by South Peak Studios, the TNA Wrestling franchise has been given a second chance to impress with its debut game as the once-canceled PSP game has finally hit shelves. While it is mostly the same game as its console brethren, it has received some welcome updates to its roster and sparse mode selection. However, the create-a-wrestler feature on the HD system incarnations is gone, and it's still saddled with the same archaic, flawed gameplay and amusing glitches that plagued the original.
While the CAW mode found in the 360/PS3 versions is gone, that’s not too bad a thing since the mode was too limited to be worthwhile anyway. New to the PSP version are the Super X Cup (a basic 8-man tournament mode), Full Metal Mayhem (which in real-life is the company’s answer to the TLC match; in this, it’s just a weapons match), and the gauntlet match where you face off against 25 foes in a row. In order to unlock that mode, you have to beat the story mode, which retains its voice acting and goofy plot about Suicide being beaten up by LAX, taken to Mexico for reconstructive surgery, then coming back to fight your way to the top of TNA. Along the way, alliances will be formed, broken, and your erstwhile partner will be bound and gagged.
Beating the story mode will unlock a lot of hidden characters, but strangely enough, not Christopher Daniels, who is featured in the mode and on the back of the case, yet remains unplayable. Some other notables, like Christian Cage, are also gone from the original’s roster. In their place are Consequences Creed, who is just Afro Thunder with a new skin on him, and Mick Foley, who is unfortunately just a re-skinned Abyss. This is definitely the least accurate Mick Foley I’ve seen yet in a game. Visually, he looks fine, but he doesn’t have anything his real-life counterpart does - not the piledriver, any form of a DDT, or the mandible claw.
Unfortunately, Cross the Line still suffers from archaic gameplay elements (like the lack of any double team moves) and annoying glitches, like the original did. During an early career mode match against Jay Lethal, there was a long stretch of about a minute where he just kept throwing me away from the ring, but I’d keep heading towards it. Later, I hit a string of forearms and headbutts in the ring before suddenly teleporting outside the ring. While it might not sound like it, this incarnation isn’t as glitchy as the 360 version, and a couple of major issues I had with it have been resolved. There, the CPU’s reliance on getting chairs from outside the ring and beating you to death with them then hitting a finisher made progressing through the story mode a chore.
Now, weapons aren’t in regular matches, and in Full Metal Mayhem, opponents just don’t go out and get them. Plus, the annoying stick-shaking pin escape has been done away with in favor of just hitting the Circle button - a change I was begging for in ‘08 and am glad to see done here. Unfortunately, weapon shots are still unblockable, but their range has been lessened a bit, so you at least have some time to get out of their way now. There are also more weapons available than just chairs - including construction signs, fridge doors, and TVs.
The original TNA iMPACT! made use of every major button on the controller, which had me worried about its move to the PSP. To my pleasant surprise, the game is nearly as easy to control here as it was on the 360. Unfortunately, having to use the d-pad to counter moves is awkward, but otherwise, the controls are a breeze.
Visually, Cross the Line has made the transition from consoles to the PSP very well. While some of the more intricate character models details, like Abyss’s scars going through his arm tattoos, have been lost, you can still make out most of the small text on the roster’s attire, including things like small text on kneepads. Beefier character models like Samoa Joe and Abyss have also been trimmed down, but given how good the HD versions of the games looked, and how impressive the models are today, I expected a bigger downgrade. Animations haven’t been downgraded at all, which is very impressive, as is the speed remaining identical. Unfortunately, the animations being identical to this version’s big brother is a mixed blessing, as many weren’t too hot to begin with, aside from springboard attacks (which look far better than any of the ones featured in THQ’s SvR games) and finishers. Collision detection is also faulty, and the wacky physics still send guys flying around the ring like they have the weight of a piece of paper.
Cross the Line’s sound effects are largely quite good, especially when it comes to slams into the guard rail and onto the mat (which sound absolutely devastating in both cases), the effect work for striking blows isn’t nearly as convincing. Every strike sounds largely identical, and the effect used sounds far too light and feels out of place for most moves. Impact’s music is also unspectacular as song variety is minimal and entrance themes are tinny and drowned out by the otherwise silent crowd during ring intros. Commentary is also poor, with Mike Tenay and Don West repeating things far too often. Jeremy Borash’s ring introductions, however, are quite good and sound much better than the ones in the SvR series.
Like the original release, TNA iMPACT! Cross the Line remains an ideal rental or super-cheap purchase. I‘m amazed they‘re charging $30 for it new since the console versions can be found for around $10 at most places - including finer 7-11s. $10 is the perfect price for it since it does provide some on-the-go wrestling game thrills, but they’re largely hollow.