Review By: Nick Arvites
|Developer:||Yuke's Media Creations|
|# Of Players:||1-4 (2-4 online)|
|Accessories:||Xbox Live (online play, leaderboards), HDTV 720p/1080i/1080p, In-game Dolby Digital|
One of the certainties with wrestling video games is that the Internet fanbase will heavily support the character creation tools. Much like I can predict the sun will rise tomorrow, I can also predict that the fans of wrestling titles will have entire databases set up shortly after a title’s release telling me how to create one of two things: anime characters and classic wrestlers. These formulas work pretty well, and they’re usually written so that even someone like myself can produce a good looking create-a-wrestler. When reviewing Smackdown vs Raw 2009, I spent some time creating random classic wrestlers. I had more fun recreating older WrestleMania matches using these created characters than I did using modern wrestlers that I have no connection with. I suppose this makes me the target market of WWE: Legends of WrestleMania. This is the first wrestling title released in years that I didn’t have to spend hours on end recreating some of my childhood favorites and not-so-favorites.
Booting into the game presents you with several menu selections. You can create a wrestler, play a quick match, or explore the Legends of Wrestlemania mode. The first thing I chose was a quick match. Fans of the Smackdown vs Raw engine will not be happy with the way matches work. The game plays almost like an arcade fighting title, very reminiscent of the older WWF arcade titles. You can punch, grapple, and enter into quick-time-events (push a button before your opponent does). This builds up momentum levels. Each momentum level has a new move set attached to it, and the moves do more damage as you go up. Once you get to level 3, you can enter a quick-time-event to perform your wrestler’s signature move. Moves are easily blocked, and much of this game is based on timing. After about 3 or 4 quick matches, I was easily dominating the computer with Jake "The Snake" Roberts, leading to several celebrations involving a python and my defeated opponent.
At this point, I decided to explore the roster. Hogan, check. Andre the Giant, check. Brett Hart, pre-DX Shawn Michaels and HHH, Yokozuna? Check. Jake Roberts, Ted DiBiase, the Ultimate Warrior, Sgt. Slaughter, Ric Flair, Mr. Perfect, the Legion of Doom? All there. Cycling through, I noticed one glaring absence. Where the hell was Randy Savage? The Macho Man had numerous classic WrestleMania moments, yet Randy Savage and his Slim Jims were nowhere to be found. There goes my dream of recreating the WrestleMania IV tournament. Seriously WWE, you were able to bring in the Ultimate Warrior but you won’t bring in Randy Savage? Come on.
Luckily for me, I found a pretty good Randy Savage create-a-wrestler model. I spent a few hours painstakingly entering information into the character creator and came up with a pretty good Randy Savage. The same forum where I pulled the template also had a move list. Here’s where I found an annoying problem with create a wrestler’s finishers: you cannot assign an aerial move as a finisher. Instead of the Macho One delivering his patented Big Elbow Drop from the top rope, I had to settle for him giving his opponents a lame elbow drop on the mat.
After I finished creating Randy Savage (complete with announcer spoken nickname “Mr. Macho”), I entered into the main mode of the game. Here, I had a choice between reliving classic moments or running a variety of gauntlet matches. I obviously chose the classic moments, since they’re far more interesting than beating the snot out of 10 wrestlers in a row. The Relive Mode is where this game shines. After selecting a match, I got to watch a video montage showing the buildup to the classic match and some of the memorable moments in the match. Once the match started, I had a set of objectives that I was supposed to complete in order to clear out the level. These objectives were things that actually happened in the match, such as Hogan body-slamming Andre the Giant in Wrestlemania III, or Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock brawling near the entrance-way in Wrestlemania XV. Basically, you’re supposed to recreate the memorable spots from the real matches.
In practice, this makes the matches more challenging than if you had to simply win. You actually have to figure out how to put your opponent into the situation to make the spots occur, and it gives the matches a better sense of pacing. Overall the game shines in Relive mode, but I found it to be a little to short to sell the game on its own. In terms of visual appearance, this mode is the first wrestling video game to actually recreate what a WWE match actually looked like. It captures the pacing, and it captures the drama. Sadly, the same cannot be said about the Rewrite or Redefine modes. Rewrite matches are ones that require you to change history (ie: Bret Hart winning the Ironman Match against Shawn Michaels), while Redefine matches add different stipulations (Ladder match, Hell in a Cell, etc). You get a list of generic objectives to perform in the match, which are not easy to perform. In the time it took me to clear the Relive mode, I could have beaten the Redefine and Rewrite modes and had enough time to cook dinner.
Posted: 2009-11-11 21:33:53 PST