Genre : Action
Developer : Big Ape
Publisher : Gotham Games
Release Date : October 14, 2003
MTV Celebrity Deathmatch, a great time-killer, first debuted on MTV in 1998, and it was high time that they decided to give the console market a shot. I was personally a fan of the show and enjoyed the extreme violence that it showcased (insert disclaimer about fictional show here … don't try this at home, kids, etc.), but let's see how it fares on the PS2.
The first thing that you will notice when you pop this in is the fact that the developers kept the two original wise-cracking announcers. They are essentially the heart of the show so you simply cannot have the game without them.
The game itself can be considered a wrestling game since most of the matches reside within a ring, but unlike a standard wrestling match, blood and cruelty is allowed, even desired. Watching limbs fall off or being cut off or even the internal organs being removed has been Celebrity Deathmatch's strong point, and not your average Joe's organs either, but those of someone famous. It can be someone famous that you may hate and would like to take out your rage on, like "Carrot Top," who I wish AT&T had never hired as a spokesperson. The game play is relatively simple to pick up, really requiring you to use only a maximum of six buttons.
From what I've seen, each character has a maximum of eight moves, which are extremely easy to execute but get repetitive really fast. I remember Celebrity Deathmatch being extremely entertaining, but with the characters' limited moves, the game gets nowhere near that level. The available moves are: normal attack, alternate attack, special attack, kick (grapple/interact, same button for these), and super move. If you hit one of these buttons without moving, it will activate one command, and if you hit an arrow with the buttons, you will activate another, leading to the eight moves per person. The last move available, or the ninth move, would probably be the super move, which only occurs when you have hit the opponent enough that your M symbol is completely lit up. This deals a devastating attack against your opponent, giving you more of a chance to finish him off.
The game has a life bar, but that does not mean much unless you actually finish off the match. You must kill the opponent, as the match will continue until someone does. I know this is not the best term, but it is what is used in the game. The "Kill" starts blinking above your health bar, meaning it's time to finish it. If you do not, the opponent can still give you a beating, but they will occasionally get dizzy. If you have no life and are skilled enough to prevent the opponent to bust out the "Kill," you may still be able to turn the match around and win.
Not only can skill turn the match around, but also special items. Items that drop in this game are the Axe of Assassination, Tennis Ball Launcher of Lunacy, The Diabolic Dynamite, Crossbow of Catastrophe, Bazooka of Barbarity, Blunderbuss of Brutality, Crate of Calamity, and last Chainsaw of Cruelty. Grabbing these weapons and chopping away at your opponent can truly change around the situation. An opponent with fewer limbs is a lot less of a threat than one with all of their limbs intact. If you are unlucky and none of these items drop, you may get power-up items such as the all-day spa, nose job and tummy tuck, the Jackson special which reheals your character, feng shui facsimile which nullifies some of the power of the opponent's attacks, an RS injection which gives the celebrity more strength, a speed boost, and last but certainly not least, the ex-clay-mation point, which bestows upon your character the ability of unblockable attacks.
So with all of these extra items, why is the game not as fun? There are simply not enough moves for each character to allow for the variety that was a trademark of the show. Over time, you will just be executing the same move over and over again, and some of the moves are just too weird for even the character, like Dennis Rodman's ballerina attack. The game also lacks the ability to use supporters. If you have watched the television show, you know that at random times, there are these unforgettable events where some outsider comes in and completely changes the situation around. There are no outsiders in this game, but you also cannot go out of the ring, which is quite the requirement! If I had to choose between this game and WWE, I would definitely choose the latter because there is a lot more variety in WWE. Each character has a massive amount of moves, and while they key configurations are a little difficult, once you learn to execute the moves, the game is very enjoyable to watch. Celebrity Deathmatch may be cool the first time around, but after the first time through, the moves start feeling very similar. While the game offers replay value in multiplayer mode (not online), you simply lack the desire to utilize it. There are only two choices of gaming options: episode mode, where the fights are already pre-determined, or deathmatch, where you can rumble against a friend or an AI bot. On a final note, the game is easily beatable in under an hour.
The game does have its perks, and those would all belong to the graphics, which are very well done and match the TV's character design. The characters are all clay figures and look fairly identical to their respective characters. Mr. T looks dauntingly similar to his true-life character, but perhaps my favorite character would be Judge Mills Lane, the referee. The stages are not very well drawn out but are very simplistic pictures in the background with maybe a few effects, but nothing impressive. Most the time, it just looks like a ring in a random room. Not the best representation, but also definitely not the worst.
Another faint glimmer of hope in this game would be the voice actors. Judge Mill's voice fits the game perfectly. I'm not exactly certain if it is his actual voice, but it seems very similar. The other voice actors are kind of a mixed bag; sometimes they seem identical while other times they seem like they talk differently. As long as the referee and the announcers' voices are the same, I'm very satisfied. As for music in the game, there is none. All you hear are the announcers and the sound of battle.
Overall, this game requires a lot of work in order to become a really popular game. As I mentioned before, the characters lack moves and the ability to leave the ring, and the game may be more enjoyable with these added components. As the saying goes, you get what you pay for, and does it ever apply here. If the game developers were to release another version, I truly hope that they actually watch episodes of Celebrity Deathmatch and make it so that the matches can be almost identical to those episodes. Amazingly, simple controls aren't the only requirement for a successful game. Check out Winning Eleven, which has insane button combinations but is an extremely intense and enjoyable game. As far as this game goes, however, I would definitely stay away.