WWE Legends of Wrestlemania rewinds the clock to the classic wrestling days of the 1980s and early 1990s. A time when the wrestling world was simple, one brand, one major champion. The internet was only a baby in its infancy and storylines and all the backstage drama wasn’t in the public eye. An argument raged between friends, is wrestling real or was it fake? and a man called Hulk Hogan ruled the world. These could be called the wrestling glory days for most long time fans, and now THQ and Yuke’s give gamers a change to relive some of the most stunning moments in WWE/F history. WWE Legends of Wrestling has finally arrived with the largest roster of Legends ever assembled. Prepare for a Bundy splash of nostalgic wrestling action.
While other gamers wait for the new Killzone, or the latest version Madden, I have been waiting for one title and that is WWE Legends of Wrestlemania. Since I am a wrestling fan who grew up with the classic wrestlers of the 1980s and so forth, I have found memories of my time spend infront of the tube watching wrestling, and even attending the odd event. All the moments that are replayed in Legends hold a found place with my love for the sport (yes, I just called it a sport), and this is why this review has been conflicting for me to sit down and write. After spending a number of days running through Legends, I finally have come to a conclusion, but it wasn’t easy. This struggle will likely plague a lot of gamers who are also fans of the wrestling days of the old; some say the best wrestling that ever was.
Bottom line, WWE Legends of Wrestling is worth the buck, it’s a fun wrestling game with one of the best rosters ever seen in one collective sitting; however don’t expect to be totally satisfied 100% with the entire project. It’s one of those love/hate deals that can only be understood if you’re a die-hard gamer/wrestling fan. With that being said, if you’re not a fan of the “old school” WWE (well, WWF) days don’t pick this up. Legends of Wrestlemania is probably not what you expected. If you are like me, you probably expected Smackdown vs. Raw made up with Legends. Part of Legends being a Smackdown title is true, however where you need it the most, the gameplay, its not there. Built off of the new Smackdown vs. Raw engine, Legends has the same graphical flair, front end, and features from the the popular wrestling series, but THQ decided to totally re-tool the way the game plays. Now, I expected this to happen, to be honest I wanted the game to be like the old versions like Here Comes the Pain, or even Just Bring It, but nada. Legends isn’t any old version of Smackdown, it’s a new system that is titled more towards quick time moments and arcade action then what Smackdown has become.
Relive a Classic Wrestlemania Moment
Before I get into what irked me with the new gameplay, let’s look at the numerous positive aspects about Legends. The games motto of "Relive, Rewrite and Redefine" is selling point, and rightfully the most impressive feature in the game. Under the Wrestlemania Tour Mode, you can do just what the motto says. Relive historically accurate matches from memorable moments in the WWE history. These include the epic battle between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III when the Hulkster slammed Andre to retain his WWF title, or what about the Submission Match at Wrestlemania 13 when Bret Hart made Stone Cold Steve Austin pass out in one of the best main events in Wrestlemania history.
Going into more detail, before you start the match hype clips will play showing the events that transpired before the wrestling match, the drama if you will. This helps you fall back into place and capture of the feel of the match at the exact moment it happened. During matches you will be given the option of reliving certain moments in an objectives format. If you do well a score a certain amount of points then you will be rewarded with gold medal. What these option medals do is help you unlock new costumes for the wrestlers, along with bragging rights. Objectives start out basic in the first few matches like “Taunt”, or “Perform a Strong Grapple” and they amp to request you to relive exact spots in a match like slapping the figure of four around Steve Austin’s legs and the ring post as Hart in that Wrestlemania match. It’s exciting and challenging to go for all the objectives in the match which boosts the level of enjoyment. Perfectionist will have to spend a little bit of time learning the perfect dance in some of the later matches because the objectives become harder and more match specific. Again, it’s not mandatory, but it is fun to try and relive the moment as close to the real event.
Write Your Own Ending
The Rewrite aspect lets you rewrite the outcome of a set of different matches with the same point system intact. The Redefine portion of the game works with the same objective based gameplay and has you changing the outcome of matches that have happened in the WWF’s past. These include the Intercontinental Championship being put on the line by Greg “The Hammer” Valentine against the Junkyard Dog at the very first Wrestlemania. In the real event the Dog came out with a count out victory and didn’t win the title. You can now relive that moment and let the dog get the 1, 2, and 3 on the Hammer and win the title. These “What If” outcomes are fun to play through and have the same, if not more, entertainment value as the other parts of the game.
It's Time to Redefine
End up the tour is the Redefine match types. Again, these work in the similar way, you’ll view a made up hype reel before you enter into the ring to win the match while working through pre-made objectives. Redefining means you will play a real match that took place except the match rules will be changed. This can be something like adding the steel cage stipulation, or some other rule. For example Rick Rude faced Jimmy Snuka at WrestleMania VI in Toronto, 1990. This was a normal match with Rude coming out as the victor. In Legends you will duke it out in a Steel Cage with the option to play as Rude, or Snuka as you redefine WWE history. These matches let the play have way more leeway and in some instances would have made great real-world matches. Another example is WrestleMania XI when the Undertaker took out King Kong Bundy in a normal ruled match. Add in the Redefine twist and you have a no disqualification stipulation that might have given Bundy a bigger edge to take out the taker... and who knows maybe Bundy could have ended the Takers streak way back in 1992.
The idea to add “twists” to simply reliving standard classic matches is a great idea and is a feature that every WWE fan will enjoy. The Redefine and Rewrite scenarios are extremely interesting and make for some memorable in-game moments along with reliving history. The only beef I have with this inclusion is that is a little short with only a few matches laid out in each category. More matches would have been great and since this is the main mode in the game it could have used a few more, but I guess that is what sequels are for. Aside from this mode Yukes has added a Legend Killer mode. In this mode you take a created legend or an imported created character and work through ranks of 10 wrestlers. There are 3 normal tiers and two additional ones (all star, favourite legends). Winning a tier unlocks points that are rewarded after each match. You can take these points and build up your created superstars. This little mode is a quick add-on that feels a tacked on, however I am glad it is in the game because it helps extend the games life. Make sure you have some time on your hands when you enter a tier because it’s all or nothing. If you don’t win all 10 matches you will have start all over again... ugh! I think Randy Orton had it easier.
Over 40 Classic Grapplers!
The roster is probably the most impressive line-up of who’s, who’s from the WWF universe. Expect to see era’s biggest stars like Andre the Giant, Bret Hart, Ultimate Warrior, Hulk Hogan, and even a few newer names like The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin. Wrestlers who are still active in the WWE at the moment still has mirror images of their former selves like Shawn Michaels, Triple H or when he was known as Hunter Hearst Helmsley, and the Undertaker. Then you have all the other wrestlers who have built up their careers without being WWF champion like Nikolai Volkoff, Hacksaw Jim Duggan, Kamala, and Jake “The Snake” Roberts. Long time fans might wonder why Macho Man Randy Savage, or Tito Santana didn’t make the cut, but for the most part the list is spot on.
When Managers had a Role
Managers have also been added into the mix which is more fitting to the era of wrestling when a wrestler’s manager made the difference in their wins, or looses. Expect to see Mr. Fuji, Paul Bearer, Bobby Heenan and Jimmy “Mouth of the South” Hart walking the ramp along side their respected contacts. In game you can't control their actions as they act on auto pilot and will take their own initive to interfear in the match. I really enjoyed some of the tricks employed by each manager like Mr. Fuji sticking his cane in the ring to snag your foot, or even a grain of salt in the eyes. Leaving the managers to thier own devices was a smart choice and one that only enhances their useage.
It doesn’t end there, even though would be satisfying enough you can import the roster listing from Smackdown vs. Raw 2009. Then you will have a full palette of wrestlers that even include the duplicity of wrestling the old undertaker vs. the current undertaker which works out better than the debacle Summer Slam match up in '94.