Review: Legends of Wrestling
Posted 05 Nov 2002 at 11:07 by Franklin
With ECW no more and it's wrestlers under WWE contracts Acclaim had to look for other ways to make a wrestling game. What they came up with was Legends of Wrestling, an attempt to bring a little nostalgia to fans of sports entertainment. The idea was great; make a game with a roster full of the old great legends of the sport headed by the greatest legend of them all - Hulk Hogan. But could the greats of the past really come back to full form even if it is just a game?
The models of the wrestlers all look good and solid. All the wrestlers in the game have been animated with a great amount of realism and their faces even show very realistic expressions when hit or taunting. However the clothing of the wrestlers all seems to fit like a glove, even if it's meant to be baggy and really doesn't look the best. At random times when performing a high damage move the camera angle will either change to a cool low to the mat view, or in the middle of the move the action will freeze and the camera will then rotate around the wrestlers. Kind of like a matrix effect. This adds a bit of a "wow" factor to the game, but that's about it. The Arenas all look dull and lifeless, the crowd is as always with wrestling Sims flat 2D cut outs.
However the first three rows are 3D images but look very blocky and ugly. Normally this would be forgiven with a game of this genre but the crowds in LoW don't even seem to move as much. The crowds in the great N64 game No Mercy would add some life to the gaming experience waving their banners up and down and making you feel like you are watching a wrestling match on TV with a massive crowd in attendance. Even though in LoW they do move, something about them makes it seem like they're not there at all as you wouldn't even notice their movements. Maybe the programmers should have put in some random camera flashes for some extra life and more colours and banners. Also a replay option would have been nice, especially at the end of a fight to bask in the glory of your finishing move. Alas there are no replays.
Like the rest of the game the sounds in LoW are nothing special at all. In fact they're barley average. The menu music is dull and boring, as is the music that plays during the wrestling gameplay itself. The entrance music for each legend is not authentic and once again they are all dull and really don't give the feel of a great legend coming to the ring.
The impact sounds are average. The sounds of the punches and slaps seem realistic enough but the crunching noise that happens after a high impact move sounds like bones breaking, but then wrestler gets up off the floor with no problems. Also there have been times when I would land a punch expecting to hear the slapping sound but instead there was nothing, this has happened more than a few times mind you. The moans and groans of the wrestlers when they are hit just sound plain dumb - like someone recorded himself while sleeping and decided to put it in the game.
The referee and ring announcer are probably the only decent sounds. Usually in wrestling sims the ref would have only one phrase for each situation, here he has a few. For example when you win by pin he doesn't say, "Pin Fall" like in other games here he would say "Ring the bell" or "that's it it's over." And then the ring announcer introduces each wrestler not only saying their name, but weight, height and hometown. That sounds pretty cool the first few times but after you've heard it enough you'll be bashing the "start" button to skip the intro and get to the fight. And then there's the crowd, yes they do make noise but not much. It would be good if they would get louder during the match to give the feel that there a real crowd that's enjoying what they see. Unfortunately like with their movements they make enough noise that they become non-existent to you as you play.
During game play you have three meters, two of which are visible the whole time, those are your health and attitude meters. When your attitude meter gets full you will be able to perform your finishing move. The lower your health the easier it will be to pin you. If you lose all your health you will be KO'd. The third meter is your combo meter but this only appears when in certain situations when needed, when you might be able to counter or put a combo together to go right from a throw down to a pin or submission. This is done by pressing A or B when the mark that runs alone the meter enters the green area. Also when in a pin/ submission/dazed situation there's a bit of button bashing with the A button. There are three different playing modes exhibition, career and tournament. And of course the essential create a wrestler option.
Exhibition is where you'll be able to play with your mates or just have a quick game with the computer. Here you can play in four different ways. Versus, 3-way dance, 4-way dance and tag team. You can also choose between ten arenas in which to fight in.
Career mode is the main one player part of the game. Here you choose one of the 30 wrestlers on offer (there are also a further 12 to unlock) and guide him to the championship belt in different regions of the US. And along the way you will be managed "The Mouth of the South" Jimmy Hart. Most of the hidden characters in the game can be unlocked here. At the top of the screen between the health bars another meter will appear when playing here. A Match Excitement meter. The more exciting your match the more the meter increases. After each match if you win for every 10% or so on your ME meter you'll add a few points to your "popularity" meter if you lose points will be taken off. When your popularity meter reaches 100% you'll be given a shot at the title for the region that you are in. The major problem with this mode is there's no real feel that it is a career, there's no story line like there was in No Mercy on the N64. This leaves the career mode empty and lifeless, you might as well be playing exhibition over and over.
Tournament is like a league system style of play. Here you have versus, tag team and tag belt. Versus is for one on one matches and obviously the other two are for tag matches. The difference between tag team and tag belt is you can win the tag belts in tag belt (duh) but also in tag team you can choose how many teams there are (6 max) and how many times you fight each team. In tag belt there has to be six teams and you must fight each team three times. The team with the most wins is the tournament champion. Also some of the hidden wrestlers are unlocked here too.
And finally we have Create a Legend. Here you can make up your own imaginary wrestler or create some of today's wrestlers. You can do some strange things here to create a total freak. When choosing a skin colour you have the choices of green and blue as well as normal human colours. You can give your creation diseased skin and even change the size of the head and limbs. So you could give him a tiny head (and I mean tiny) to go with a big body. Or have one arm way bigger or smaller than the other. Let your imagination run wild and you can come up with the perfect wrestling freak. Also if you where to make some wrestlers that aren't in the game like Ric Flair or Andre The Giant the announcer will say their names. That said you wonder why greats such as those, especially Andre, where left out in the first place they are massive legends of the sport yet someone like Rob Van Dam got in and he is by no means a legend… yet.
Also this game has some of the longest loading times ever. If you're playing with mates be sure to have something to talk about while your waiting for the game to load. If you're playing the computer try not to fall asleep during the loading times. Also, when you increase the difficulty there doesn't seem too much of a difference in the computer-controlled wrestlers. The only difference was in Legend difficulty (hard) the combo meter does not appear so you have to work out for yourself when and where you can counter or perform a combo.
And one major draw back in the gameplay is it has no variety you can only have normal wrestling matches. There are no variations such as table or cage matches. There isn't even a disqualification rule. You'd think with a game that allows you to knock down the ref you would only be able to use weapons when he's down and can't see (unless it was a No DQ fight) but it seems you have no choice but to have a No DQ fight and beat the hell out of your opponent with a chair n front of the ref and not have to worry about a thing. That said once you use a weapon four times you'll drop it and it vanishes, not very realistic disappearing weaponry.
The controls feel slow and awkward. Move the control stick and you can almost see a delay in the wrestler. Sometimes I found myself having to press the run button more than once before he actually did run. The combo meter adds a little bit of skill and timing to the playability. And the button bashing parts are fun when playing with friends, on your own against the computer it's just tedious and boring. Learning the control system my take some time especially for anyone that never played a wrestling game before, there's just so many moves to try remember.
The Multiplayer is the only thing that will have you coming back to this game. But even that won't last very long. Annoyingly long loading times and gameplay that soon becomes very repetitive even when playing against 3 of your mates make this a dull lifeless boring game. If you buy this expect it to be gathering dust within a day if you have nobody to play it with, or a week if you have friends to play with.
The loading times will put you to sleep. The difficulty doesn't even seem to change when you increase the settings. The gameplay becomes too repetitive and has little to no variety. Even fans of wrestling will be very disappointed with this. I should know, I'm a wrestling fan! Lets hope THQ do a good job with Wrestlemania X8, or we could be waiting a long time till we see a good wrestling sim on the Cube.
N-Europe Final Verdict
This game is so boring... If you're thinking of buying it please rent it first before.
Create a Legend
Mem card pages
Career mode lacks life