Thursday, April 9, 2009
Confession time. Between the years of 1993 and 2000, I had another obsession besides video games - professional wrestling. Yes, I was the kid at recess in the Razor Ramon t-shirt that was desperately trying to tell anyone who would listen about how Shawn Micheals backstabbed Diesel. It's not a proud period of my life, but it does allow me to appreciate WWE Legends of Wrestlemania more than someone who was never into wrestling. It's a wealth of nostalgia and fan service to longtime WWE faithfuls, and gives you the opportunity to recreate numerous matches from the annual Super Bowl of the squared circle.
Gameplay is decidedly different than the advanced controls of the Smackdown vs. Raw series. Everything is far more streamlined and basic, and should be easier for casual gamers who just want to pick up the controller and play through their favorite Wrestlemania match. It does limit the options, however, as you can't run around the ring as freely, and you don't have as much control over which moves you're pulling off. You won't see any rope breaks or fully-fledged career modes here either.
There are two main modes outside of the standard Exhibition - Wrestlemania Tour and Legend Killer. The former won't mean much to those who haven't seen the classic matches it recreates, but these can be a blast if you know the history. You'll relive matches from Wrestlemanias past, from Hogan-Andre at WM III to Austin-Rock at WM XV. The game doesn't go past XV, so don't expect to see John Cena, Batista, or other more recent grapplers. Some of these matches require you to strictly recreate the moments from the actual matches, and these are spelled out with actual video highlights. Others will task you with rewriting Wrestlemania history and changing the outcome of matches, while another set changes the original match types (standard matches will become Hell in a Cell, etc).
Legend Killer is a much more basic mode that has you take your created wrestler through multiple tiers of opponents in giant gauntlet matches. The game has seemingly ported the (admittedly robust) creation options from the Smackdown vs. Raw series, so you can create a huge assortment of characters. I created a deadringer of Guile from Street Fighter and took him through the tiers, levelling up his abilities with the XP you gain from winning matches. If you can make it through the 38-opponent All-Star tier, you should definitely have enough XP to make your grappler the most powerful in the game.
Overall, this is a package that does a great job of appealing to its target audience - longtime WWE fans. For those that aren't familiar with the history of the Pay-Per-View or wrestling in general, there's far less to like here. It's not terribly deep, and it doesn't have a large variety of modes, but those with fond memories of 80s and 90s "sports entertainment" should certainly find something to enjoy about Legends of Wrestlemania.
First Play: 8.0
Replay Value: 7.0