The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
For decades now, Hulk Hogan has been obsessed with getting his orange face plastered anywhere and everywhere he can. He tried to become a movie star with Suburban Commando, Mr. Nanny, and No Holds Barred. He attempted to become a television star with Thunder in Paradise. His film and television acting never really seemed to take, so this year he’s going after the gaming industry. A voice-over role in Saints Row: The Third doesn’t seem to be enough for the Hulkster, however, as he’s now the star of his own game: Hulk Hogan’s Main Event.Actually, calling him the “star” of this game is like saying that the little paper clip guy is the star of Microsoft Office 98. His hideously deformed character model is mostly seen during your character’s entrance, standing on the ring apron nodding his head and making peace signs. A few times a match, he might throw out a three or four-word phrase like "Believe in yourself!" or "Great finisher, bro!."The latter is stated regardless of whether you’re anywhere near finishing your opponent, and regardless of whether or not this game actually has finishing moves (it doesn’t).Outside of those brief appearances, Hulk is about as frequently seen as Waldo. Between matches in the career mode, you’ll watch comic book-style panels explaining that you’re working for a rotten wrestling booker named Booker. Still shots of Hogan are shown during these, complete with speech bubbles over his head. It probably would have taken Hulk an extra 15 minutes in the VO booth to record the entirety of the game’s text dialogue, but I assume he was too busy marrying women that look identical to his daughter.When you first start the game, you’re given the ability to create your own wrestler. Saying that creation options are limited is too generous, as the game doesn’t even offer long hair options. It’s 2011, and I’m reviewing a game that doesn’t appear to be able to render long hair. Once you’re done perusing the various customization options (don’t worry, it won’t take long), it’s time to rise through the ranks of professional wrestling. For some reason, a backyard wrestling federation gets Hogan’s attention, and he starts scouting for new talent. After winning your first match, your freakish-looking dude will be taken under The Immortal One’s wing as he leads you through the big leagues.Each match begins with a painfully-long, completely unskippable entrance sequence which requires you to pose in a certain way when prompted. Keep in mind, these don’t let you pose in creative ways that you come up with -- you’re limited to "raise your left arm to do this" type of motions. Hell, even Kinect Sports allowed my avatar to do a proper DX crotch chop. Outside of the canned poses, your character will stop three times on his way to the ring to activate a "dodge the food!" minigame. A few co-workers saw me do this and asked, "Why do they keep throwing food at you? Are you a bad guy or something?." Nope. That just happens every time for no reason.Each match is a gauntlet of canned sequences that have no effect on each other. You'll sometimes start with a dodge and punch section that’s reminiscent of Punch-Out. Actually, I’m not going to compare this game to that classic. It’s more like playing hokey-pokey, only if you couldn’t hear what the person singing the song was saying. You’ll see a little Hogan pop up in the corner of the screen, and he’ll make the motion that you’re supposed to mimic. This isn’t exclusive to the dodge and punch minigame; the entire game has you staring at the corner waiting for Hogan to tell you what to do.Once the dodging section is over, the game activates an unnecessary comic book sequence showcasing 4 to 5 panels of your characters fighting. Then it’s on to the next sequence, with both health bars entirely reset. Rinse and repeat until the next sequence starts the process all over again. Some of these require absolutely no skill whatsoever, as I beat several of them by spinning in circles, doing Russian leg kicks, running in place, making windmill motions with my arms, and numerous other unintended motions.The grappling segments are painful, with only about three of the five required motions registering on a consistent basis. Making it even worse is the fact that your opponent’s health bar is constantly recharging. This means that even if their bar is almost completely depleted, it only takes one unlucky streak of required motions to get them back to full health. I spent about 10 to 15 minutes trying to get past one sequence, but I kept getting the piledriver or backbreaker motions that barely ever worked.Every match ends with the "Pin to Win" segment, and it’s just about the most anticlimactic way you could ever win a pro wrestling match. In the real (fake) product, you usually see matches end with a Tombstone Piledriver or thundering RKO. Hulk Hogan’s Main Event ends matches by making you go through a few required motions, including tiny elbow drops and one move that involves sitting on your opponent’s face and squirming around. You can make a pin motion when their health bar is low enough, and that’s where the real fun starts. To finally put your opponent under, you have to lean to the left and right over and over, holding each lean for about three seconds. If I ever saw a wrestling match end in this manner, I’d quit and start watching real sports.Hulk Hogan’s Main Event is a baffling product, and I have no idea who its intended audience is. I guess it could be for fans of wrestling and crappy Punch-Out clones, but even that doesn’t make sense. I’m a lifelong fan of professional wrestling, and I love Punch-Out so much that it made the list of my ten favorite games of all-time. Main Event is an absolutely atrocious title, and I received no entertainment value out of it whatsoever. The best compliment I can give it is that Kinect picks up on what you want to do some of the time, but that would be like complimenting a Mario game for recognizing that you want to jump when you press A. In the six years I’ve been doing this, I can honestly say that Hulk Hogan’s Main Event is the worst game I’ve ever reviewed.