WWE: Legends of WrestleMania - Review

WWE: Legends of WrestleMania, Xbox 360 - £27.99 delivered
WWE: Legends of WrestleMania, PS3 - £27.99 delivered

Review by myp

So, wrestling eh? You either love it or you hate it. Me, I think it’s ok, as long as you accept the fact that it’s just a soap opera for boys. The acting is terrible and the plots are weak, but for some inexplicable reason it still manages to draw me in with its implausible story lines and over-the-top circus theatre. This game takes us to the so-called ‘Golden Age’ of the World Wrestling Federation Entertainment of the 1980s and 90s, back when the fights were real and the best man really did win (sub please check).

Let’s get it straight from the onset; this is a niche title. I know it sounds strange to say it, due to the global outreach of the WWE brand, but it’s not going to entice anyone in who doesn’t already have an interest in this particular division of ‘sports entertainment’. However, for those fans out there who have slowly lost interest in the over-complex Smackdown vs Raw offerings that require you to have the brainpower of Stephen Hawking in order to remember combos, you’ll be pleased to know that WWE Legends has been pared back and is a lot simpler to get to grips with. This doesn’t mean it is simplistic, however. You can still perform a variety of strikes, grapples, irish whips, clotheslines etc, but it all seems a lot less bewildering when you first pick it up. You’ll soon be suplexing like Mr Perfect and chest-chopping like Ric Flair himself.

The basic game works in a similar fashion to other wrestling games; the more successful moves you perform, the more your opponent’s energy bar will deplete. When it’s been depleted far enough, you will be able to pin or make them submit. Where this game differs is that it introduces a levelling system. You start on Level 1 and can progress up to Level 3, where you can then perform your finishing move with a couple of button presses. As you level up, your attacks become stronger, and you become more resilient. When initiating special moves and and certain grapples, you are presented with a quicktime event, where you have to press two or three face buttons during the move in order to complete it. Yes, yes, I can hear you groaning already about the QTEs, but for this type of game it doesn’t seem to break the flow of the action. When you complete your special move (or fail it), you then drop back down to Level 2, and have to work your way back up again. There’s the obligatory button-mashing when it comes to getting yourself back up after a fall, or trying to escape from a pin, but thankfully it’s not too frequent.

From what I’ve described so far, it sounds like this is a decidedly average fighting game, and that’s mainly because no matter which way you dress it up, it is. Compared to something like Street Fighter IV, it really doesn’t cut the mustard, but wrestling games (much like its real-life counterpart) have never only been about what happens inside the ring. Where this game really begins to shine is in the presentation. Each venue from the original WrestleMania right up to XV have been painstakingly recreated to the very last detail; even down to the miniature rings that combatants entered in at WrestleMania III.

Much has been made of the ‘Relive, Rewrite, Redefine’ modes. They are set out in chronological tiers, where you unlock a match once you have won the previous one (attaining a gold medal if you manage to fulfill a number of objectives. ‘Relive’ is in some ways the most restrictive mode, where you have to re-enact moments that actually happened in the match. For example, in Hulk Hogan’s cage match with King Kong Bundy from WrestleMania 2, you earn extra points for irish whipping Bundy into the cage wall and busting him open. Additional points are gained from preventing him from exiting the cage through the door (twice, as in the real match), and then escaping over the top. However, it must be stated that performing these feats are optional, only if you’re interested in collecting the gold medals. You can unlock the next match by simply winning the bout.

‘Rewrite’ (or ‘Totally Changing Time’) pits you against a winner of a particular match from history, instructing you to change the course of history. Again, it gives you objectives to complete, but they tend to be more general, such as performing a move off the top turnbuckle or getting your opponent into a strong grapple. The ‘Redefine’ mode is very similar to ‘Rewrite’, but match rules are changed (changing a ladder match to a Hell in a Cell, for example).

The character creation mode from SvRi is still prevalent, and you can enter your lycra-clad goon into the ‘Legend Killer’ mode, where you face off against six tiers of WWE superstars to become—you guessed it—a legend killer. For those of you with SvR2009, you can even import characters from there. So if you’ve always wanted to pit Cody Rhodes against his dad, then you can finally fill your boots.

With regards to the roster, almost everyone is there: from Greg ‘The Hammer’ Valentine to ‘Stone Cold’ Steve Austin; Andre the Giant to Jake ‘The Snake’ Roberts—even younger versions of The Undertaker and Triple H. The only notable exceptions I can think of are Chris Benoit and Owen Hart, but that’s kind of understandable, really. The likenesses are generally very good (even though some of them have been made far musclier than in real life). The only strange one is Shawn Michaels—his face just doesn’t look anything like him.

Manager interference is new to the series. Before you’d have to go outside the ring to hit them, but now they interject just when you want them to (or not, depending on whether they’re on your side). This can get a little frustrating when you think you’re nailed on for a pin and Bobby Heenan grabs his guy’s leg and sticks it on the rope, but it’s all part of the show, so it’s hard to grumble. You can even go over to your manager when you’re low on energy, and he’ll refill it for you (losing a level in the process).

So in summary, should this game pique your curiosity if you’ve never held any interest in watching men in their pants pretending to hit each other before? No, but to those who are still reading this, dare I say it; this could be the best wrestling game I’ve ever played. Whoops, I’ve just damned it with faint praise.