WWE Legends of Wrestlemania has been something I have been waiting to play for quite a while. I don’t mean when it was announced, I mean back when Acclaim gave us “Legends of Wrestling.” Although there were some good things about Legends of Wrestling, it came up short. One of its big vices was that it contained wrestlers who were indeed legends, but a good deal of them were WWF legends and Acclaim did not have the WWF licensing to recreate all of the elements in quite the harmonious fashion I was hoping for. I wondered if the WWF were to release an all legends game, how it would fair. I felt like this may actually be that game. Again, we came up short.
The game features a nice roster, although conspicuous by their absence, some of the legends that you would expect to be in this game. Namely, Macho Man Randy Savage and Demolition were missing from the roster. The character models looked great for the most part, except Hulk Hogan and Andre were blown up a bit. The animations were very nice and the presentation really brought back memories. Unfortunately, THQ in their lacking wisdom, decided to rig the controls so that any nostalgic fan could pick up a controller and play. While this is great for the casual fan (who will most likely not buy the game), it was an excellent way to drive away fans who would feel much more at home having the same engine that Smackdown! Vs. Raw uses.
Your range of motion is very limited and after years of playing games like No Mercy, Fire Pro, and Smackdown! Vs. Raw, you feel like you’re being cheated out of gameplay elements. Due to the lacking range of motion, the action grows repetitive. I was also unhappy with some of the theme music. Apparently the WWE felt it necessary to change some of the wrestler’s signature themes to music that just did not belong. Luckily I have all of this music on my computer and ported it into the game and did some handy work to change the music appropriately.
The gameplay modes are mixed. The tagline of the game was “Relive, Rewrite, Redefine.” Relive is a mode where you, as it sounds, relive a Wrestlemania bout. What’s nice about these matches is that you have objectives to recreate from the match’s real life counterpart. Executing certain moves begins a string of actions which actually took place. Slamming Andre prompts a quick follow up leg-drop and a victory. Steve Austin picks up a bottle of water at ringside to spit it into the Rock’s face. Rewrite has you change the outcome of a match, basically the original loser goes over. Not exactly the most fun mode, but I guess if you were unhappy with an outcome, now is your opportunity to change it. Redefine is pretty fun, Wrestlemania (the first) hosted an Andre Vs. John Studd match, now we see that match take place in a Hell in a Cell match. Although this mode is interesting, I would have rather left the Rewrite and Redefine modes to my own exhibitions and had 3 times as many Relive matches.
For your Create A Legend, you have a set of gauntlets to run. The wrestlers you fight against are divided up in somewhat arbitrary groups of 10. After finishing a few of these you gain attribute points along the way. Eventually you end up at the gauntlet of the entire roster, all 38 legends. Finally, after porting the SvR roster into the game, you have one last gauntlet of 10 current WWE wrestlers to burn through. After this, there is really nothing left to do but replay the game. Because of the repetitive gameplay, however, you don’t really care to do this any longer. Plus, if you had any interest in playing this game before, the 38-man gauntlet has taken it out of you. It felt like they threw that mode in to artificial inflate gameplay time.
As for the create a legend mode, the physical appearance looks very good. The moves you have to choose from aren’t horrible, but why do they limit the finishers so much? The finishers are all chains (a succession of 3 moves). The finisher chains that exist for the superstars are the only ones in the game. You cannot designate your own. What does this mean? If you created, let’s say, the Macho Man, there is no way to make the elbow off of the top rope your finisher. very shabby. A good number of moves are locked until you import the SvR roster, but still, then you only have those finishers to choose from as well.
It’s a sports game, so I can’t really beef with the sound too much, although having to do my own handy work to make the real themes be part of the game annoyed me. Is it so hard to get the same music you used back in the day WWE?
Although some of the character models are a little glorified, the game looks great, for the most part. The crowd still looks crappy, but I guess I shouldn’t be that picky about the crowd appearance.
I’m going to double dip with the incorrect theme music and take points off for presentation also. There also could have been a ref in the ring. That having been said, the game has a good deal of little things that were awesome. Having all of the venues for the event replicated in the game is really nice. The lower thirds for the wrestlers match how they really looked for each Wrestlemania is a nice touch also. The highlights of the matches you are playing with in the “Relive, Rewrite, Redefine” mode was also nice, personally I would have liked to see the whole match, but that may not have been possible with the remaining space on the disc.
I’m throwing off the gloves for this one. The control was balls. Seriously, it’s a steep learning curve with very little payoff once you learn it. There just is no depth. Once you master the controls, you’re just frustrated that it isn’t easier to do things that you want to do. The worst scenarios are when you have to have your opponent in the right place outside the ring and cause him to be groggy before grappling with him the right way. When you have to do this to fulfill an objective, it’s the worst. I take that back, kicking out of a pin is the worst. The amount of button mashing you have to do should be illegal. It doesn’t feel like it makes any sense. You can be winning a match and when you’re the victim of a small package, kicking out require way more effort and physical energy than it should. I also feel like limiting the buttons that are used complicated things more, as more combinations are required to execute simple tasks. You sometimes will find yourself doing something other than what you intended due to the same buttons being used for multiple tasks.
Once you have watch the intros and grown excited, the thrill is now over. This is sad, you want to have fun with your legendary wrestler, but the control makes this too difficult. There are some nice elements, like if you have a manager he’ll help you out by distracting the opponent or placing your foot on the ropes during what would be a 3 count. I’m not quite sure how the game determines when your opponent has had enough. Sometimes beating on him for a while will give you a pin. Sometimes, several finishers in, they will remain unbeatable. The game just doesn’t flow.
My big question: why couldn’t they just use the Smackdown! Vs. Raw controls? Making fans of the game and product learn a new control set up just seems pointless and aggravating. Maybe next year. THQ has done some boneheaded things with WWE games, they sadly made this game a rental and not a keeper.