Legends Of Wrestlemania


(Reviewed on PS3)
On April 5th, this year, WWE’s Wrestlemania will hit it’s milestone 25th anniversary in Houston, Texas. Whether you’re a fan of this specific brand of entertainment today or not, most people will have been a fan of professional wrestling at some point. Ever since the conception of McMahon’s Wrestling empire fans around the world have clamoured to watch their favourite superstars defy gravity and health to entertain us.
Everyone has their favourites, from Hulk Hogan to Ultimate Warrior and many past and present fans have fond memories of the grandest matches.
Most of these matches were at wrestlemanias throughout the years and Legends of wrestlemania celebrates those matches.

In Legends of wrestlemania, THQ have used the smackdown engine to animate the greatest wrestlers, but this time they’ve taken out the more simulation style of gameplay and replaced it with a more arcade feel. Although this game is pitched at everyone rather than your run of the mill wrestling fan, the control system can be incredibly fiddly to pick up. In the smackdown series, movement was fluid and each manoeuvre was as simple as moving in the direction you wanted to go and pressed a button. However this time round, motions that should be simple are made intricate for no real reason.
An example of this is how you pick up a weapon or move onto a turnbuckle, both of these moves are acted out by double tapping the circle button. This is more of a chore than it should have been, surely a button could have been assigned to fulfil miscellaneous tasks such as the above, preferably without the double tap.

Anyone who has a penchant for sweaty men in spandex, much like myself, will be in their element when they first turn on this game. As the title came up on screen to the familiar sounds of old wrestlers entrance music a smile crept upon my face and my eyes lit up.
The first port of call is looking around the menu with glee of what’s in store and it’s the Wrestlemania tour mode that’s the main attraction here. Once you enter this mode you have the opportunity to “relive” “rewrite” or “redefine” the timeline of WWE’s history. In all of these modes you take control of a classic superstar in a career defining match. There are different matches in each part of the tour, so you won’t play the same match in “relive” and “rewrite”

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In relive mode you will literally have to recreate past matches, not move for move but you will have to act out certain “memorable” moments in each match.
At the beginning of each match you are given a set of objectives to complete in order to “pass” the match, each of these objectives are given a points value and you have to beat a points total to get the gold medal and move on to the next match. The objectives will range from ending the match with a finisher move to snapping on a figure four leglock around the corner post while there are no stairs attached to the ring.
Sounds complicated? It is.

Practically everything in legends is context sensitive and it makes the gameplay stop and start while you fumble with the controls in order to pull off the desired move. When you are given an objective, such as performing a move on a groggy opponent while they are in a corner. It comes down to trial and error more than anything else. Due to the clunky controls, it’s difficult to get your opponent in the corner let alone perform the specific move on them.
This problem with context situations is found in many parts of the game such as moving from the ring area to the entrance area. Moving from area to area requires you to press the X button at just the right moment in order for you to move, this can be tough when you are being punched and kicked.

The controls don’t stop troubling you there though, they also carry on through pinning situations. Having to mix your button inputs from tapping to holding the buttons in order to move a bar into the “kick out” section.
There are moments though where the controls move to the other end of the spectrum and really shine. There are many quicktime events that play out, particularly during finishing moves and timing your button presses results in the move being performed correctly and without reversal.

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There are two ways of keeping track of your objectives for each match, before the match starts you are given chance to watch a highlight reel of the lead up to the wrestlemania match and clips from the match itself. These movies are superbly edited by the WWE editors who are known for their expertise. It’s these clips which are your objectives and once the movie ends you are shown them on screen with tips on how to achieve them in the match.
Now, the reason I said two ways of keeping track is thus. The first way is to use grey matter, the spongy material between your ears and remember each objective and how to perform them. Or, you can pause the game and track them there, which, while a great way to remind yourself, severely disrupts the flow of the gameplay. There isn’t really a simple way around this other than to live with it, but it spoils the moments that are meant to be the most exciting.

There are many other exciting moments to revel in though. The character designs are superb and look great in Hi-Definition as do the crowds. The sound of the arenas and moves are great and the commentary delivered by Jerry “the king” Lawler and Jim Ross keep the authenticity as best as can be.
Each of the superstars moves are animated very accurately to their original performance and bring back a nostalgia of when we would look up to these superstars as heroes, Legends.

If you don’t want to relive or rewrite moments from history then you can become a legend killer.
In legend killer mode, you can create a wrestler, much like in the smackdown series and then use that wrestler to take on tiers of legends and dethrone them from their legendary status.
Playing through all the different modes will see you unlocking costumes and match types. This will mean you can dress each wrestler in the attire from different time periods in their careers and you can play through game types from tag matches to hell in a cell.
All of your progress can be checked in the Hall of fame menu system.

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With 42 wrestlers on the roster and the ability to transfer the entire roster from smackdown vs raw 09 from your game save of SvR09, you’ll have plenty of stars to play with and create dream matches like John Cena vs Hulk Hogan.
Obviously there are many multi player options included, so you can fight over who’s going to use who and then finish it in the squared circle.
The multi player mode is tight and is best played on the same console, which allows for elbows in the ribs when each person delivers great moves. Although there is online play here, I did experience small amounts of lag which as in any fighting based game can upset the gameplay.

Legends of wrestlemania is a great game for fans of wrestling from days of old, but any newer fans, particularly of the smackdown series may feel slightly let down by how the game plays.
All of the stand out moments are based on the classic feeling of grandeur that comes from WWE and performing moves that are renowned in the wrestling universe.
There’s plenty of fun to be had here especially once you’ve hurdled the control system and you’ll soon feel like a legend.

Hi-Score – Authentic, great game modes, longevity.
Lo-Score – Fiddly controls, often frustrating.

Final Score – 6 out of 10

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