WWE Legends of WrestleMania
Ah, the WWF; I have some fond memories of the World Wrestling Federation, back in the day before that panda got involved and it was re-branded the WWE. Back when lunchtime at school consisted of holding wrestling tournaments and upsetting the teachers. Back before the majority of us grew out of watching sweaty men in leotards fight each other for a ‘golden’ belt and The Rock jumped over to the world of film and the subsequent release of a not-so-great Doom movie. Yep, those were the good old days.
And now they’re back - to a certain extent. Taking a break from WWE Smackdown vs. Raw, THQ and YUKE’s Future Media Creators have decided to take it back to the past with WWE Legends of WrestleMania in a bid to capture the attention of some nostalgic fans such as myself.
“You’ll end up pulling off the same moves over and over again, so it’s not the most exciting game.”Now, they must figure that plenty of these old school fans from the ‘80s and ’90s aren’t up to speed with modern videogame lark as Legends of WrestleMania goes back to a very simplistic control scheme. The only buttons required are the four face buttons and the left analogue stick/D-pad. That’s it. As a result it’s unquestionably user-friendly for any newcomers coming in; one button is for grapples, one for strikes, one to block and the last for actions. Different variations of the left analogue stick combined with the grapple will produce the majority of moves with suplexs, piledrivers and neck breakers coming into effect. The problem is that there aren’t a great deal of moves because of this very basic scheme. You’ll end up pulling off the same moves over and over again, so it’s not the most exciting game.
I know it wasn’t as fast back then and there weren’t all the high flying moves we get today, but even with the context sensitive moves in the corners, or against the steps and outside of the ring, you’ll still see every move of a particular superstar after two or three matches. It’s undoubtedly enticing for older fans who see Andre the Giant and Hulk Hogan and want to jump straight into it, but those already heavily invested in Smackdown vs. Raw and its bevy of intricate move sets may not find Legends such an exciting prospect. Don’t get me wrong, this is still an enjoyable wrestling game, the simplicity of it just lets it down.
“Each match opens with some brilliant short films showing you the build up to the encounter, with trash talk and matches between the two right up until the eventual bout at the biggest pay-per-view event of the year.”Luckily the game modes will keep people coming back. Since all 42 wrestlers here are legends in their own right, it’d be a bit strange to feature a fully fledged career mode here since everyone is already at the top of their game, leaving no room for player progression. Instead, Legends features the WrestleMania Tour Mode where you have the opportunity to Relive, Rewrite or Redefine WrestleMania history. Relive is the best of the bunch as you can take part in seven different classic matches over a span of fourteen years between the ‘80s and ‘90s. Each match opens with some brilliant short films showing you the build up to the encounter, with trash talk and matches between the two right up until the eventual bout at the biggest pay-per-view event of the year. These have been produced with all the care in the world with plenty of music, shots and all the key emotional moments, good and bad; and once they’re over - and your history lesson is complete - it’s your turn to go in and recreate it for yourself.
The great thing about the Relive mode are the specific objectives you have to carry out if you want to win a gold medal and unlock some bonus goodies like match modes and alternate costumes. Rather than handle it like any old fight you’ll have a list of objectives to help it play out like the actual match did. So if you’re doing the WWE Championship bout between Stone Cold and The Rock at WrestleMania 15 you’ll need to perform two Stunners, smash The Rock through the commentators table and so on. If you want you can just skip these, but where’s the fun in that? This is by far the best mode on offer, however it does bring to light some more glaring faults with the control scheme. Because you’re attempting to perform these specific objectives, you’ll often find that they’re more difficult than they should be because of the lack of buttons. Trying to get someone up the ramp should be an extremely easy action to pull off, but more often that not I’d end up pulling off a grapple move instead since they’re both performed on the same button. It’s not as noticeable when fighting in an exhibition match, but when you’re trying to do something specific, the simple controls can get a little aggravating as you find yourself battling against them at times.
But away from that, the Rewrite and Redefine modes are disappointing when compared to Relive. The objectives don’t need to cater to events which have already transpired since you’re essentially changing history, so as a result they’re pretty bland and uninspired as you just need to execute a heavy grapple, or two moves off the top turnbuckle, and so on. These are things that you’d normally do anyway, so without the brilliant short films at the beginning, these two modes would be overlooked.
“It baffles me why they decided to make the characters look like muscle-bound action figures.”Which leads me to a strange design choice in regard to the visuals. They’re definitely impressive with each superstar looking the part, but with these historic films before fights and all this history, it baffles me why they decided to make the characters look like muscle-bound action figures. These guys are absolutely huge; way, way bigger than in real life. Even wrestlers with more fat than muscle end up looking like they should be competing in World’s Strongest Man tournaments. They were big enough as it is so I don’t know why they decided to go overblown with the style and make it look like they were pumped up with an un-Godly amount of steroids before entering the ring.
Other than that, though, the presentation is impressive. Entrances are spot on with the look and feel, as well as the music, and all the old yellow text is here for some of the old matches. The arenas are suited out with all the colour and style we remember, so there was definitely a lot of care and research put into recapturing the look of each WrestleMania down the years - even if it doesn’t feel quite right having Hulk Hogan and King Kong Bundy fight to the commentary of current WWE announcers, Jerry “The King” Lawler and Jim Ross.
WWE Legends of WrestleMania is a game sure to please the legions of nostalgic fans out there. It’s easy to pick up and play, although this could also be its biggest downfall. Luckily the Relive mode remains engaging throughout, and there’s plenty of fun to be had with the superb movie theatre; it’s just a shame there isn’t more to the move set and general style of play.
Seven out of ten