Syfy's WCG Ultimate Gamer Delivers Tekken6 Bouts, High-Wire Battles, Kat Fights
· Hannah Simone
· Joel Gourdin
· Kelly Hu
Television Review: WCG Ultimate Gamer, "Come Out Swinging"
by R.J. Carter
Published: August 19, 2010
I recall a time when I channel surfed passed one of the add-on ESPN channels and was astounded that I was seeing a broadcast of a Magic: The Gathering game. I mean, I used to get excited playing the game, but just sitting there watching others play didn't seem all that enticing. And, for me, that held true (although I have since watched more than my share of Texas Hold'em competitions).
So if I couldn't watch a game that actually involved strategies that I could anticipate, why in the world would I want to watch a show that involved people frantically pushing button combinations? Well, maybe because Syfy's WCG Ultimate Gamer is a little bit more than that. Sponsored by Samsung and the World Cyber Games, Ultimate Gamer sort of takes the concepts of Big Brother and The Apprentice and adds the flavor of the hottest videogames. Twelve gamers are brought into one loft where they play games and interrelate as they prepare for unique physical competitions related (although perhaps loosely) to the game of the week.
This season, the players are Caesar, Mike, Kat, Vanessa, Yaz, Faye, Ryan, Justin, AJ, Sebastian, Rachel and Jake. Jake's position in the house was secured by an Internet vote, and Justin is Justin Wong who enjoys a certain level of godhood among gamer geeks. Yaz is definitely a player to watch, although how much "game" he has outside of a console is questionable -- never nickname yourself after a birth control.
But the real drama in the house is going to come from the friction between Kat and Vanessa, who start on each other almost right away. They've had some dealings in the past, and one of them may have taken the other's boyfriend. Before this competition is through, you're going to want to see these two go head to head in some sort of physical competition, preferably involving swimsuits and oil.
And then there's Faye. What can I say about Faye? She's every gamer's fantasy girl: Asian-American with a purple streak in her hair, a penchant for flirty dress, and an effervescent bubbliness. She's a videogame character brought to life, and at least one of our thumb-calloused boys is going to lose his heart to her, and with good cause. She's very funny, and I took an instant liking to her.
The game this week is Tekken6, and to prepare for the isolation matches, the players will first learn some high-flying fighting maneuvers themselves, in a competition involving wire-work like they do in the movies. Kelly Hu is on hand to help judge the contest as the house divides into two teams to compete. After that, each player must play against the computer in Tekken6, and the combined team and individual scores are compiled to find first place and last place positions. The last place person is then up for elimination and must go head-to-head against a player of the first place winner's choosing (which allows for some interesting strategy moves for eliminating your competition).
I surprised myself by finding I was actually on the edge of my seat during the final elimination competition, which involved nine rapid rounds of one-on-one Tekken6, fought in Samsung Stadium in front of a live audience. I'm not going to tell you who won any of the competitions or how they were scored, but I will tell you that once you've watched this first episode of the new season, you're going to come back to see the drama that is sure to ensue in the wake of the battle -- it's gonna be on like Donkey Kong!
WCG Ultimate Gamer airs Thursday, August 19 at 11pm | 10pm CT on Syfy.