WWE Legends of Wrestlemania (Playstation 3)
Platform: Playstation 3
Other Platform: Xbox360
A Word from the Fair Friar: “After unlocking everything, the law of diminishing marginal returns comes into play. However, playing Bret Hart and Ric Flair in one game does have its appeal.”
The biggest stage of them all!
WWE’s grandest stage of them all: Wrestlemania. Just last year, THQ and Yukes gave wrestling fans and non-wrestling fans a videogame showcasing past WWE legends and about 15 Wrestlemania arenas in one game. The developers at THQ put on this game for us to Relive, Rewrite, and Redifine. For me, as a wrestling fan, this game really brought out the kid in me as I got to play the old matches I’ve seen on the early Wrestlemania events when I was a kid watching them play out on my betamax (and later on, VHS) player. The story of this game centers of the first 15 Wrestlemania events. So in other words it starts from the first Wrestlemania in 1984 up to the 1999 event of Wrestemania XV. Aside from the 15 Wrestlemania arenas available (and one Royal Rumble ring), you also have a list of WWE legends to choose from. You can pit Hulk Hogan in his prime against Steve Austin in a match for all you want. For a tag team match, you can let The Hart Foundation (Bret Hart and Jim Neidhart) take on The Legion of Doom (Hawk and Animal). If you even have a Smackdown vs Raw 2009 file on your PS3, heck you can have Jimmy Wang Yang take on Yokozuna and Andre The Giant. No really, you can!
Relive, Rewrite, and Redefine
As many review sites, and even Wikipedia, have explained; the game has three main features. First is the Relive mode in the Wrestlemania Tour mode. Relive mode lets you…well…relive certain Wrestlemania moments like Hogan slamming Andre down the wrestling ring mat or Stone Cold demolishing The Rock and even spraying water on his face. Rewrite has you doing matches that would reverse the order of a decision from a previous Wrestlemania. For example, you have to rewrite history and prevent HBK for getting his childhood dreams into fruition with the use of Bret Hart. Redefine, basically redefines the whole setting of past Wrestlemania events. For example, instead of a normal match, you will see a hell in a cell match for Big John Studd and Andre the Giant for Wrestlemania I. There is also the legend killer tier which pits your created legend in a series of gauntlet matches where you should win and outlast 10 other legends. Outside the main feature of ‘Wrestlemania Tour Mode’, the game also has its standard exhibition mode where you can play as anyone and pit them into any type of wrestling match that’s available. The types of matches range from one-on-one, tag team, and even a Royal Rumble feature. So the standard matches you’ll find in the Smackdown vs Raw (SvR) series can be found in this game too. But after finishing everything in Wrestlemania Tour mode, I would care less for the exhibition mode. In other words, the replay value is rather low in this game compared to the Smackdown vs Raw series for me. Why? Let’s just say if I didn’t have the imported data of SvR 2009, I would just not play the game after unlocking the modes, medals, and videos of this game.
Three Stages of Moves
Aside from the nostalgia that the game brings, the controls of Legends of Wrestlemania caught my attention. Unlike the WWE Raw vs Smackdown series, made by the same developer, the controls are a bit simpler. For the average gamer, I believe the controls are easy to master within a few hours of gameplay. I recall last year when I played this game for the first time in my brother’s house, it took me just 2-3 playthroughs to get used to the controls. The simpler controls are also combined with a ‘chain grapple sequence’. This sequence starts when you do a normal grapple on your opponent. The first to tap the button that flashes on the screen will lead the entire sequence and win the chain grapple. This whole chain grapple thing reminds me of videogames such as Shenmue (Quick Time Event sequences) and Resident Evil 4 where we do have to press that button that flashes for the next sequence or move.
The game also uses a health bar for the wrestlers as well as a 3-level meter. Your grapple moves are dependent on which level your meter is. For example, you have a different move when you are in level 1 from level 2. Level 3, the highest level, has the finisher of the WWE legend which also initiates another chain grapple attack. The use of managers has relevance in this game and can influence how a match is dictated. For example, when paul bearer raises his urn, the Undertaker can power up and dominate the match. Even Mr. Fuji rears his evil head into this game and throws ceremonial salt into your eyes when you are near the ropes.
Graphics wise, the arenas are spectacularly built to how it looked like. For example, Wrestlemania I is the simplest arena you’ll see while Wrestlemania IX has the Roman Coliseum type feel to it just like its real-life counterpart. The wrestlers, however, seem to be beefed up compared to their real life figures. For example, while I know Hulk Hogan was muscular, he wasn’t THAT big and muscular as Legends of Wrestlemania depicts him to be. This, to me, seems to be a glaring difference of character animation from this series to the SvR series when you pit an imported roster to this game. For example, you’ll notice the Big Show is even leaner and slightly thinner compared to some of the characters here like Andre the Giant or Big John Studd who’s character animations are far more muscular and burly compared to ‘the world’s largest athlete’.
Another issue I found that disturbed me is the inclusion and exclusion of wrestlers in the game. For example, while Michel Hayes was a pivotal part of Wrestlemania 12 onwards, he never was in a wrestling capacity in the event as Michael P.S. Hayes of the fabulous freebirds. Dusty Rhodes is a legend, but his only WM highlight was an intergender tag match with his manager taking on Randy Savage and Sensational Sherri. Hunter Hearst Helmsley? Triple H would have been better served in this game since his initial incarnation was squashed by the Ultimate Warrior in less than a minute and I doubt I’d like to relive that moment. Notable names that were not included in this roster were Randy Savage, Razor Ramon, Diesel, and even Vince McMahon himself. All in all, the game is very good. With its simple controls and stellar graphics, even a non-wrestling fan would be thoroughly entertained in playing this game. However, the replay value diminishes after the Wrestlemania Tour mode.
Sven’s review in ‘lazy’ form
The good: Stellar arena recreation, easy to learn controls, near-perfect roster lineup, roster import feature for SvR 2009, you get to wrestle as Kamala!
The Bad: Lack of notable wrestlers from the WWE’s past, Character animations make them look too big; Low replay value after Wrestlemania Tour.
It’s a good buy to non-wrestling fans and wrestling fans alike. However, the replay value is not that high for me.