games / Reviews

Total Extreme Wrestling 2020 (PC) Review

June 8, 2020 | Posted by Armando Rodriguez
Total Extreme Wrestling
The 411 Rating
Community Grade
Your Grade
Total Extreme Wrestling 2020 (PC) Review  

Total Extreme Wrestling 2020 Review



Game: Total Extreme Wrestling 2020

Developer: Adam Ryland

Publisher: Greydog Software

Platform: PC

Genre: Text-Based Simulation


The Total Extreme Wrestling series is the longest running text-based wrestling promoter series dating back to the early 2000’s and even further back, to the freeware Extreme Warfare Deluxe/Extreme Warfare Revenge series. The premise of the game is simple: You become the owner and/or head booker of a professional wrestling company and are responsible for hiring talent, booking matches, negotiate broadcast deals and become as successful as you can. In other words, you are what Vince McMahon is. Everything is done through text, there is no actual wrestling match engine, and shows consider a lot of variables to get a final grade. The process itself is simple and streamlined, but like all good games, has a lot of depth and is challenging to master.

TEW 2020 is the most controversial of the series by far. After the most troubled development period of any entry in the franchise (which included a postponement of the release date by several weeks for the first time ever) TEW 2020 is here and is the most complete entry in the series thus far. Although it has its issues (I will get into those further below) most of the bad stuff is outweighed by the good stuff and like every previous entry, once you play the newest version it becomes really hard to go back and play the old ones.

Before I dive into the Cornellverse changes or any of the new features, let us discuss the elephant in the room: The interface. Due to the abundance of numbers and the use of a smaller font, TEW 2020 looks ugly. There is no other way to put it. The whole presentation has a spreadsheet quality to it and is definitively not in the same ballpark as other text-heavy games like Football Manager or Out of the Park Baseball, although to be fair, the game doesn’t have that kind of budget. Although I wish the game looked better, the reality is I don’t know if there is a way to achieve that without undoing a lot of the progress done in the ease of access department. You see, by having more information at once on every screen (and several conveniently placed shortcuts to other areas) TEW 2020 greatly minimizes the number of clicks needed to get access to the information you want. As a long time player of the series, I can honestly say that one of the reasons I have carpal tunnel is because of the insane amount of hours I have spent with these games. In previous entries, you needed two or three clicks to access the information that you have readily available now. Combined with a more liberal implementation of drag and drop, the number of clicks needed, and thus the amount of time needed, to navigate screens and book shows is greatly reduced. I have had two- and three-hour sessions and not once have I felt the wrist pain, I used to get in 2016. I would trade beauty for ease of access any day. I tried to play some TEW 2016 for comparison and there is no question: TEW 2020 is far easier to navigate and use.

So how does the game play? First you select your avatar. You can choose from one of a handful of avatars, create your own or play as any of the characters already in the game. Then you decide if you want to play as the owner or the booker of a company. The main difference is that playing as the booker you have to deal with owner goals and meddling, so the owner can stop you from spending too much to hire a wrestler or from making changes to the company’s product. I have more fun being the owner, but if you want some extra challenge, the booker option is there. Then you select which company you want to play as with its own pros and cons that range from starting money to product type. Pretty much every product type you can imagine is represented here, from sports entertainment to lucha libre, hardcore and puro.

You can even play as a developmental territory now (think NxT). This adds an extra layer of challenge since your parent company can recall workers at their leisure (although you get a warning that allows you to book their way out if you will) and also assign workers to you. It is a completely different experience and well worth a try.

The Cornellverse, the game’s default game world, has evolved with the times and is a good reflection of our current reality. There is a lot of more internet-streaming providers you can negotiate broadcast contracts with, for example. Some fan favorite companies have disappeared entirely, like AAA (the all-female promotion) and Golden Canvas Grappling in Japan. Others have evolved, like EMLL which now uses a Lucha Underground-style product complete with heavy kayfabe and outlandish storylines and characters. Over in Canada, CGC and NOTBPW have merged into one super company, CWA. Japan has seen tremendous decline across the board due to the tsunami event in TEW 2016 and feels like the playing field is more even and wide open right now. Over in the USA, USPW continues to ride the top with the SWF and especially TCW, taking a hit and trying to fight back. In Mexico, SOTBPW have renamed themselves to EILL to have a more “worldwide” identity and are struggling to replace their biggest star, Champagne Lover, who left for Hollywood. India is starting to show signs of life as well. If you have followed the Cornellverse since day one, you will eat this stuff up. The variety of companies, locations and product styles offer a sample of every type of play experience you can wish for.

If you don’t like the default database, you can create your own as the game provides an editor that allows you to create everything from scratch. Or you can download one of the many real-world and fantasy mods that include real companies like AEW and WWE or fantastical alternative universes like the Thunderverse. There are so many options that you could in theory play TEW 2020 forever. The limit is your imagination.

Let us discuss some of the new features. In addition to playing as a developmental company, my second favorite feature is the ability to create performance centers. You see, training facilities used to be wrestling schools and dojos, but now you can create WWE-style performance centers that serve a dual function: they will still graduate new workers like any other training program, but also allow you to send some of your active wrestlers to work on their skills there. For example, playing as TCW, the game was telling me T-Bone Bright was going to be a superstar. Most of my workers wanted to put him over to “take him to the next level” and the crowd was really responding to him. But in a company that required good quality matches and many of them need to be “called in ring”, his psychology stat was not up to par. After several months down at the performance center, he was able to call matches as his stat improved. The good thing is that they go to work there on their own time, meaning that I was still able to book him on shows.

Another cool addition are cinematic matches, like the Boneyard Match that we saw at Wrestlemania. Granted, not all companies, products or workers can pull them off, but it was a neat inclusion to see them available in the game.

The most significant change to the gameplay mechanics is that now you can return to the booking screen and alter things “on the fly” even after the show has started. For example, if a worker suffers a serious injury during a match and he was scheduled to appear later, now you need to go in and addressed that. Or if a match or segment bombed in any way, now you can go in and change the order of matches or even book something else entirely to try and get the crowds back. I have saved countless shows simply by rebooking on the fly. It is such a monumentally useful and game-changing feature that I have no idea how we used to play without it.

There are so many more features that I would need a dozen pages to get to them all, but here are some of the best of the rest: revamped push system that separates overness from crowd perception and momentum, tons of attributes that further separate characters from one another, the ability for (mostly) Japanese companies to send workers on excursions, you can now talk to workers to try to convince them to do stuff, Daniel Bryan-esque “groundswell of support” for some characters that organically get over with the fans and much more.

The game also comes with a detailed manual that can be accessed from the main screen. It contains as much information as you could possibly need about terms and gameplay mechanics, making the game more accessible if you are willing to put in the time to learn it.

The final score: review Amazing
The 411
TEW 2020 is the best entry in the series, period. The interface might have taken a step back in terms of looks, but it has taken 10 steps forward in terms of usability. The deeply satisfying trademark experience of the series is here, with plenty of new additions that make it the deepest entry in the series and the most accessible. Outside of a graphics revamp, I just don’t see how this series can get any better.