A solid old-school wrestling game has been a long time coming and now it might finally be here. Fans should be sceptical however, with previous attempts at recreating the magic of old school WWE resulting in Acclaim’s abysmal Legends of Wrestling titles. Fortunately THQ and Yuke’s have set out to do it right, and have succeeded - to a point.
Initially, Legends of WrestleMania feels very nostalgic; a bunch of classic superstars facing off once again, even deceased stars like Andre the Giant, Mr. Perfect and Big Bossman are back to face off with other fan favourites on hand including Million-Dollar Man, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Hulk Hogan.
Unfortunately, a few classic - top ranking - wrestlers and tag teams such as “Macho Man” Randy Savage and Demolition didn’t make the cut. A plausible reason for the exclusion of Randy Savage might be that there aren’t any divas, which would have been essential for him as his manager was Sensational Sherri.
The lack of divas is strange in itself; not only for the fact that they had female wrestlers back then, but because they included female outfits in the create a superstar feature - even though you can’t create a diva - as if to promote transvestism.
One of the more interesting features of Legends of WrestleMania is you can import some superstars from Smackdown! Vs. Raw 2009 if you have it on the same console. Unfortunately DLC wrestlers and divas aren’t included - any hopes of a Father/Son DiBiase team are immediately dashed. Overall the feature seems under-polished and completely throws off the gameplay balance - you know there’s something wrong when Tazz can perform a German Suplex on Andre the Giant.
Legends of WrestleMania sports most of the match types seen in SvR, minus a few notables such as Last Man Standing, Champer Elimination, and Bra and Panties.
Here’s a rundown of the match types:
Steel Cage Match
Hell in a Cell
Tag Team Match
Triple Threat Match
A nice selection, although the Battle Royal and Royal Rumbles are very unforgiving when you get caught up at the ropes and have two wrestlers trying to shove you out – it often means a guaranteed elimination.
Yuke’s have taken a few steps back from the dual-analogue controls of SvR, to a simpler - more beginner friendly - control scheme of just four buttons: action, strike, grapple and block. Although having a single button for block is a welcome addition, the shoulder buttons go to waste and finishers are reduced to a quick time event. This also applies to the SvR imports and don’t feel as interactive as the Smackdown vs. Raw signature moves – every finisher including the top role moves are triggered from a standing position.
Due to the simple controls, the moves have been split up by a three level momentum bar. As you pound away at your opponent your momentum bar charges; at level one you can perform weak moves and strikes; at level two some of the stronger moves become available; and at level three you can finish the job with the strongest moves and a finisher. Unfortunately it takes far too long for the momentum gauge to fill and odds are the match is over before it gets to level three.
Visually, the legends on hand look more like action figures of their real life counterparts. This style goes well the simple control scheme giving it the look and feel of an arcade title. There a few gripes to be had though; most of the back fans are made of low resolution sprites and when the camera pans out you get a face full of pixels.
The guts of Legends of Wrestling are in the two big game modes: Legend Killer and WrestleMania Tour Mode. Legend Killer is made up for six tournament games. The first three consist of the legend tiers, after that the most played wrestlers take you on in Favourite Legend tier, the next tier puts you against every legend over 38 matches and the final tier is against 10 imported SvR Superstars.
WrestleMania Tour Mode consists of Relive, Rewrite and Redefine. All three have goals to meet in each match for points, although it isn’t necessary to any of the goals. The matches are accompanied by a little teaser video – the videos are also viewable in the Movie Theatre mode. They revolve around classic WrestleMania matches and are the most nostalgic modes.
Overall it is hard to recommend for Smackdown! Vs. Raw fans under the age of 27; short of The Rock, HHH, Shawn Michaels, Stone Cold, and Hulk Hogan, most of these wrestlers have been dead or out of the spotlight for years. For anyone with a taste for some classic WWF you can't get any better than this – game wise, anyway.