WWE Legends Of Wrestlemania Review (Xbox 360)
Untold Legends, Tomb Raider: Legend, Legends of Wrestling. There seems to be a pattern here. For every Legend of Zelda, there are a handful of mediocre games with a legendary title. In time for the 25th anniversary of wrestling’s Super Bowl, Legends of Wrestlemania is in stores now and is hoping to break the trend of mediocre "legend" games.
In the Ring
This is not your grandpa’s Yukes-made wrestling game. In fact, he might like this one better. For experienced wrestling gamers, this is not a good thing. If you are used to the controls of the Smackdown vs. Raw series, those skills are of no use here -- LoW uses only the four face buttons plus with the directional pad or left stick.
Frankly, it seems silly that some actions are performed by simultaneously pressing multiple buttons since half of the buttons are just sitting there doing nothing. I would understand that development decision if every button was being occupied but not when half of the buttons are untouched. For example, running is difficult for me to do because I have to move the left stick twice in the direction I want to run. When I was playing the game, there were plenty of times when I tried to get my momentum going, but I could do no such thing.
In other words, it seems that Yukes wanted to give the fans a full-on arcade experience. However, most of the good arcade games use more than four buttons.
The game is aimed completely at video game novices, which is a shame because most original WWE fans are old enough to have had some experience playing video games. I never thought I would clamor for the controls of the SvR series, but I am right now. They really are not even much better, but at least they make sense.
Another problem I have with the gameplay is the quick-time events. For anyone unfamiliar with QTEs, this is where a button lights up and you have to press it before your opponent does. They can be fun to do at times, but when you are playing multiplayer, they completely stop gameplay for anybody not involved in the action. You are stuck twiddling your thumbs as you wait for the move to end.
In Royal Rumble matches, the developers took out the finishers and most grapple moves, so they turn into punchfests. It is pointless to build up your special meter in order to pull off a finisher when the big payoff is a push to the chest.
There are also basic Hell In a Cell and Ladder matches. Both these matches are limited to one on one bouts. The only four-player match types are Tag Team, Royal Rumble and Battle Royal, which is a Royal Rumble with only four grapplers.
Legends of Wrestlemania can be fun when you get the hang of it, but there is not much depth here. The charm of the game is the nostalgia I feel when I see these guys in virtual action. If it was some random wrestling game with generic wrestlers, I probably would not have the same affinity towards it.
With the way most of these wrestlers look, you would think some of them were on steroids. They are huge and sport details that I do not remember seeing in them when I was a kid. Hulk Hogan never had that much hair, King Kong Bundy never had so much cut muscle, and Yokozuna was never that fat.
Wait, he was.
Either way, the wrestlers do look great. It almost looks like you are playing with two cartoon characters instead of two humans that may or may not be alive today. The bright colors give off that '80s vibe, and Yukes did a good job replicating the old wrestling experience. The crowd still looks like crap, yet it almost looks like Yukes went out of their way to highlight the crowd during entrances. Nevertheless, I got over it as soon as I saw Ultimate Warrior running out in all his glory.
If you thought the duo of Jim Ross and Jerry Lawler was broken up, well, beware because they are back in full force in LoW. If you missed them at all, you will not after playing a match or two. A lot of their general commentary is recycled stuff from the other Smackdown games. The new lines that they do say are not much better. I know Gorilla Monsoon is now with the wrestling gods, but I would have settled for Vince McMahon in the booth.
Most of the classic theme songs are correct, which is music to my ears. That fact combined with Howard Finkel doing the ring announcing makes for a pleasant audio experience that makes me feel like I am five years old again.
The arenas have much more detail than any other wrestling series, but they are limited to Wrestlemania 1-15 and the old-school Royal Rumble. Most of the arenas are modeled after the ones they took place in, rather than generic arenas with new ring aprons.
The Relive, Rewrite and Redefine mode is the meat and potatoes of Legends of Wrestlemania. Here you play in 20 different WM scenarios, each of which is inspired by a classic moment. You are also treated to clips that relate to the build up of the match, any stipulations involved and footage from the match, including the ending. I am glad Yukes put the WWE video library to good use here because it works perfectly and makes the match mean something.
Of the three modes, I think Relive is the best because the objectives are much more interesting. You are rewarded for doing spots that actually happened, which means doing the figure four leg lock on the post with Bret Hart at WM 13 just feels right.
(Just for clarification, Rewrite has you trying to reverse a past WM decision, like beating Shawn Michaels with Bret Hart at WM 12. Redefine changes a match from the past with a stipulation such as putting a Hell In a Cell around Andre The Giant and Big John Studd.)
The more objectives you complete, the better. If you get a gold medal for a match, you can unlock arenas and costumes -- I could go on and on about the lack of many alternate costumes, but it would not be worth it. I am hopeful that they will do some work in the DLC department.
When you are done with the nostalgia trip, you can import characters from WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009. So, now you can have that Jimmy Wang Yang vs. Jimmy Snuka match you have been dreaming of for ages. The non-legends do look odd next to their legendary peers: They are noticeably smaller and have a strange glow. You know it is strange when Batista looks like a small child next to the Ultimate Warrior. Still, this element adds length to the game, and the feature will make it interesting when you are tired of wrestling Greg "The Hammer" Valentine.
The one beef I have with the roster is that the selection of legends is somewhat spotty. Triple H is definitely a legend of Wrestlemania in his current form, but definitely was not one during his "blue blood" gimmick. If you do not remember, he lost to the Ultimate Warrior at WM 12 in about 90 seconds. If you include him with the likes of The Undertaker and Bret Hart, then guys like Chris Jericho and Kane should have made an appearance. There is also no excuse for Eddie Guerrero being left off the roster.
Also, while I have no problem with Arn Anderson being in the game -- even though he was never a major WWE talent -- more WCW and ECW grapplers should have joined the club. Who does not want to play as Rob Van Dam, Ultimo Dragon, Goldberg or Dean Malenko? I cannot fault Yukes for not including the guys wrestling for other companies, but it is hardly a complete legends game when most of the roster is made up of guys that wrestled from 1985 to 1995.
The other major mode is Legend Killer. It is just 10 matches in a row to crown the greatest WM legend. There are no storylines or connections between the matches, and you can only use a created superstar. There are seven tiers in all if you are into that sort of thing. It is quite similar to the championship mode in WCW/nWo Revenge from 11 years ago.
The Create-a-Legend mode is simple enough. The developers included enough materials to create plenty of legends that did not make the cut, such as Razor Ramon and Giant Gonzalez. You can also import your created characters from SvR 2009 if that floats your boat.
Legends of Wrestlemania is not a perfect game, but it is certainly still fun. It is not Smackdown vs. Raw 2010, but it does not try to be that either. Playing as the classic superstars might not interest some people, but if you are an old-school wrestling fan, it merits at least a rental. A few more months in the shop would have made this a more complete game, but I guess the game had to coincide with Wrestlemania 25.
In the Ring: Arcade-style gameplay is simple but definitely not as practical as the other Yukes wrestling series.
Graphics: Wrestlers are big, bright and look great.
Sound: The old theme songs will bring back those childhood memories, but the commentary is tired. Howard Finkel gives this section a boost.
Entertainment Value: The classic footage gets you ready to play. A lot of match types, but most are limited to one on one.
Learning Curve: Forget what you know about the Smackdown series, LoW is a whole different beast and will take a few matches to get used to.
Score: 6.5 (Decent)