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Having been hooked on WWE wrestling games ever since the Smackdown series first hit the original Playstation back in 2000; always when a new WWE game is released I look well and truly forward to playing it. THQ took time away from the Smackdown series here with Legends of Wrestlemania, and decided to put together a game where you can compete as some of your favourite wrestlers from the eighties and nineties such as Andre the Giant, Bret Hart, and Mr Perfect.
When I first sat down to play Legends of Wrestlemania on my Xbox 360 several years back, I was excited to get involved in matches with some of my favourite wrestlers from years gone by. It's fun to see your favourites in pixel form, and the game allows you to recreate/change history in some of the most high profile wrestling matches ever to have taken place.
Legends of Wrestlemania is a bit of fun for nostalgic value, when it comes to the actual quality of the gameplay however the game is seriously let down. The game is just far too easy, and although the simplistic arcade nature of the game may appeal to some; if you're an experienced gamer looking for a challenge then Legends of Wrestlemania is definitely not going to provide you with that. The graphics are nothing special here, particularly revisiting the game several years after originally playing it, and whilst Legends of Wrestlemania definitely isn't a bad game; it's certainly not a very exciting one either.
It didn't take me too long at all to get bored of playing Legends of Wrestlemania, and although it's nice to be able to play as some of your former wrestling favourites; the novelty of the game is quick to wear off, and the game does little to make you want to keep playing.
The sound quality is pretty reasonable here, nothing groundbreaking though, and definitely not the best that you'll find in a wrestling game. With the game as easy as it is, and the graphics as average as they are, the sound does very little to raise up the overall quality of what is a very lacklustre offering of a wrestling game.
If you were a wrestling fan in the eighties/nineties then you'll probably want to rent Legends of Wrestlemania in order to relive a few happy memories; I wouldn't recommend investing in the game though as it's unlikely that you'll be wanting to play the game for more than a couple of hours once the initial novelty of playing as some of your favourite wrestling legends has worn off. I've definitely played worse wrestling games in the past than Legends of Wrestlemania, the arcade style and incredible ease of the game doesn't sit too well with me at all though, and in terms of gameplay it just doesn't come anywhere close to matching the quality of WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009 for instance, a game that was released around about the same time as this one.
Given that you can currently pick up the most recently released THQ wrestling game, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011, for £13.98 on Amazon; I see very little reason as to why anyone would want to fork out for Legends of Wrestlemania, particularly when Legends of Wrestlemania itself is £10.18 for a game that will provide you with far less entertainment, and undoubtedly get cast aside a lot more quickly also.
Legends of Wrestlemania is by no means a must have THQ sports title, if you were a fan of wrestling in the eighties/nineties though then playing the game at least once is probably worthwhile, albeit unessential. Put it on your Lovefilm rentals list by all means if you're a big fan of wrestling, don't expect much from this game though as if you do then you're bound to be disappointed.
I work in a contact centre and the other day our systems were having some issues so I got chatting with some of my colleagues and ended up somehow on the subject of wrestling and how we all remember the legends like Ultimate Warrior, the Nasty Boys, Hulk Hogan and more from back in the day but how you really don't have that kind of level of superstar anymore (you do have a few but these don't seem to have much charisma like the good old days) and so when I got home I decided to see if I could pick up this game for a decent price and so finding it for less than £10 I decided to give it a shot.
So first thing to make people aware of is this is not another Smackdown Vs Raw as it is a game more in keeping with the classic characters in that its control system is setup to feel more like the games of old where it is a lot of button bashing rather than using all your triggers and the like to make a special move come off. For some this is a bad point but this adds to the feel that we all remember from the games when these were the wrestlers battling it out each week.
The game itself has been put together well with an extensive list of classic characters including Hulk Hogan, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Rowdy Roddy Piper, The Big Boss Man, The Undertaker and many more which gives gamers the chance to have that nostalgic feel of playing as the wrestler from when they were young and loved WWF (now WWE) and thanks to the control system being more like the games of old it feels like a real trip back in time.
With all this nostalgia though many people will be wondering why go for this as there are surely more upto date games? This game may have all those nostalgic touches and feel like the games of old but the production is up there with the more recent titles and the graphics, sounds and menus all manage to have standards meeting those you would expect of a next generation game.
What are the negatives then? This game is not quite perfect as unfortunately one thing tried to make it feel more classical has led to it feeling wrong in that the control system feels like it lets things down. The reason the classic control system changed to the more modern design is because it gives the user increased and improved control of all actions of your character and due to the old controls making it a limited game in terms of your moves and so this is not a game with a lot of re-playability.
Overall then? A strong enough game worth playing for the nostalgic value but thanks to weak controls the game does not quite merit being a must have wresting title. If you can get the game cheap then it is a good one for you and your mates to play when having a couple of drinks and a pizza for the chatter of the good old days but not one for you to have as a single player keeper.
When it comes to wrestling games the contemporary games often date incredibly quickly, in fact for those who can remember WWF No Mercy the changing landscape of the WWF (now WWE) saw "The Big Show" taken from the game very late in production due to the fact he was sent to development in real life. However games looking at wrestling history don't have this problem, Legends of Wrestling for example will always have wrestlers who will be legends, Hulk Hogan, Terry Funk et al. So when THQ developed a game of legends to sit along side their Smackdown v Raw series it was going to avoid the problems people associated with modern day wrestling games, "Legends of Wrestlemania" was the game they put forward to those wanting to play as the WWF's legends and in some of the WWF's greatest matches in history.
The cast of stars which range from the early 80's behemoths of Big John Studd and Andre the Giant, the icons of Hulk Hogan, The Ultimate Warrior and Ric Flair, and more modern day stars such as The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, HHH, The Undertaker and Brett Hart. A list of WWE/WWF legends as long as your arm, include some of the more forgotten names of the era, Junk Yard Dog, Greg Valentine, Honky Tonk Man, Brutus The Barber Beefcake and more. So with icons that have transcended the sport, the characters are there, and the history aspect of playing through some of the most infamous matches in Wrestlemania history, such as Hulk Hogan v Andre The Giant at Wrestlemaina 3. Sounds good so far right?
The games first flaw comes in the games poor quality of controls, despite THQ having a solid basis of a control system in the Smackdown v Raw (SvR) games they've decided to use a chain system for this title which just feels awkward and frustrating. Despite the nice touches the game has the control are one of the worst in a wrestling game and feel counter-intuitive and difficult to get to grips with. The second major flaw is that there is no real "career" mode, though the game does have a solid and pretty long lasting single player game it lacks the solid grounding of any modern wrestling game and sadly this could have improved the game no end. In fact the single player main mode doesn't even include a single tag team match which brings us to another one of the games flaws, the match types are rather limited an the usage of weapons is very limited (sadly SvR 09 had almost perfected the weapon uses). The games ladder match doesn't let you our of the ring, there is no backstage area (that I know of anyway) there's no table matches or 6 man tag matches and it all feels limited.
This isn't to mean the single player game is unplayable, in fact the game is addictive at times as the player is set a series of challenges to unlock the next match in 1 of the 3 modes the game has "Relive", "Rewrite" and "Redefine" as well as a "Legend Killer" mode. The "Relive" is where the player tries to replicate a real match that took place at one of the Wrestlemania's and plays as the winner for example "Hogan beating Andre at Wrestlemania 3" and accomplish things that happened in the match. "Rewrite" is where the player plays as the loser and tries to rewrite the history books such as getting Junk Yard Dog the victory over Greg Valentine in Wrestlemania I. "Redefine" is the game putting a new twist on the classics and lets you pick either fighter, such as the Big John Studd v Andre The Giant match from Wrestlemania I...put into a Hell in the Cell environment. These do get a bit repetitive as you need to keep the matches going to fill the conditions of the match (which can at times be ridiculous such as "Four Corner Slams" which is difficult due to the controls).
The legend killer sees you using a created wrestler to beat the legends on the game in a series of bouts, again it's monotonous and repetitive after a while, and you'll find yourself getting midway through before being too bored to complete it sadly.
The games stand out features are the wealth of history, the nostalgia and the live footage of the moments your meant to recreate a fantastic part of the game though you can't help but think you may have been better off just buying some of the Wrestlemania DVD's for the same sort of thing. It's fun but not long lasting enough to be worth a purchase in honesty, the flawed controls and repetition will soon see you tired of the game and soon see you going back to SvR.
An extra note: The game links with SvR 09 and allows you to use the SvR 09 characters for exhibition matches.