Review by oneofakind2k10

"Welcome To Wrestlemania!!!"

Introduction

Wrestling fans over the years have been bombarded with yearly WWE wrestling games and pretty much know what to expect when it comes to a wrestling game. However, in the professional wrestling world and video game world, one event and word defines one of the greatest annual wrestling events ever created – and that is Wrestlemania. First originated in 1984, Wrestlemania is the pinnacle in professional wrestling and is considered to be one of the greatest spectacles of all time. With this thought in mind, THQ along with Jakks Pacific and Yuke's decided to celebrate not only the 25th anniversary of Wrestlemania with Legends Of Wrestlemania, but to also give wrestling fans and gamers the chance to relive, rewrite, redefine, and to create their own memorable Wrestlemania moments.

Controls

Legends Of Wrestlemania takes a much simpler approach to their game mechanics as oppose to WWE's Smackdown! Vs. Raw franchise when it comes to the controls. Considered to be a throw back to past WWE games such as Wrestlefest and Superstars, the controls are very easy to learn and are always available in the pause menu in case you some how forget to play the game. Once you learn your way around the controls, you will become a legend in no time.

Unlike the recent Smackdown! Vs. Raw series, the game uses an actual health bar to measure your health and if you do enough blows to the head you can cause your opponent to bleed. Also, as you do damage to your opponent you build up your Chain Level. There are three chain levels and with each level increase you gain new grappling moves and by reaching the third level you will be able to execute your finisher. You gain chain levels by striking and using grappling moves on your opponent. One of the fastest ways to level up your Chain Level is the use of Chain Grapples.

To execute a Chain Grapple, you grapple on a standing groggy opponent. From there, you and your opponent are presented with a Button Indicator and one of the 4 face buttons will appear in the indicator. If you press the button correctly, you control the chain and quickly level up your Chain Level. However, if your opponent presses the button before you, your Chain Grapple will be reversed and you will on the defense. Chain Grapples are essential in matches because not only do they level your Chain Level up quickly but they also do a lot of damage to your opponent as well.

As you can see from the description of the controls, this game is very simplistic but do not let this fool you. While this game has simplified controls, this can lead to a lot of button mashing. Timing is absolutely important to playing this game and getting the full experience out of the matches. Paying attention to your health is essential as well especially when pinning and performing submissions. If you are pinned, you can get out of the pin one of two ways: A meter will appear and you can either mash the face buttons until you kick out or you can hold down one button until it reaches a certain point in the meter and you can kick out. If you apply a submission to an opponent, you can mash the buttons to add pressure and do more damage or if they have no health left, they will automatically give up. Again, Timing and health are crucial if you want to become a true Legend in this game.

Game Modes

There are multiple game modes that you can choose from while playing Legends of Wrestlemania. The main game mode is the Wrestlemania Tour Mode; in this mode you have three options of how you can play the game which are “Relive”, “Rewrite”, and “Redefine”. Along with that you also have the Exhibition Mode and a Create mode as well. I will talk about the different modes in the Wrestlemania Tour Mode first.

In Relive mode, the game gives you seven of the most memorable matches that occurred from past Wrestlemanias and allows you to “relive” those matches once more. In Rewrite mode you are given 6 matches that allow you to “rewrite” the history and change the outcome to certain matches that took place. Finally, in Redefine mode, it is similar to “Relive” mode with a twist; the twist being that you are given 6 different matches, but instead of being regular matches they are “special” match types. During the course of these matches, you must meet certain criteria in order to obtain a gold medal. Obtaining certain medals unlocks new matches for Exhibition Mode, alternate attires, and bonus videos for your Theater Mode in the Legends vault. Each mode is very entertaining and fun, showing a promo clip of what lead up to the match and the outcome.

Another mode is the Legend Killer Mode, where you use a created wrestler to go through 5 different “Legend” Tiers and the “Superstars Tier” if you have save data from Smackdown! Vs. Raw 2009 on your hard drive. Through each tier, you face 10 opponents (except in the All-Star Tier, where you face all 38 “Legends”.) This mode, more or less, is so that you can build up your created wrestler and to the max the wrestler's rating to 99. While the mode is fun at first, it can be a bit tedious after the first tier. However, after completing each tier you're rewarded with more medals, making it easier to unlock bonus material.

Then of course there is the Exhibition Mode, where you can play different exhibition matches. Match types include a Singles Match, Tag Match (Regular or Elimination), a Steel Cage Match (Escape or use of the pin/submission option), Ladder Match. Hell in the Cell, Submission Match, Iron Man Match (with 10, 20, and 30 minute matches), Triple Threat Match, Handicap Match, Battle Royal (6 men at once), and the Royal Rumble (which is the same as the Battle Royal, except with 30 men). With 38 “Legends” and 45 “Superstars” to choose from, the possible match ups are endless! Not mention, you have 4 championships that you can compete for: The WWE World Heavyweight Championship, The Intercontinental Championship, The WWE World Tag Team Championship, and The Million Dollar Championship.

Finally, the last mode I want to touch on is the Create Mode. In Create Mode, you can either Create a Legend (create a wrestler), Create A Tag Team, Create A Move Set, and Create an Entrance. The “Create A Legend Mode” borrows heavily from the Smackdown! Vs. Raw franchise when it comes to creating your wrestler. You are allowed to customize your wrestler and mold your wrestler into anyway you want. While not as detailed as Smackdown! Vs. Raw, this mode again offers the simplistic nature of the game and isn't too in-depth about creating your wrestler. The “Create A Moveset” mode allows you to create your created wrestler's move set or adjust the moveset of a superstar. This is a very fun mode, as you can change up a wrestler's style of wrestling and you have a wide variety of grapples and chain grapples to choose from.

In the Create A Tag Team mode you can pretty much create any tag team you want. The game already comes with over 15 pre-made teams and you can create up to 27 different tag teams. Finally, in the “Create An Entrance “mode, you can create/modify the entrance for a Superstar, Created Superstar, or for a Tag Team. This is where the game both lacks in options but gives you the freedom to do what you want (if you have access to original wrestler entrance themes, burned CDs and such). In this mode, you can choose when to let off pyro, different camera angles for your entrance, toggle the lighting and smoke effects, and so much more. If you have a big imagination, this mode will definitely keep you occupied for quite sometime, wanting to create the most “historically accurate” entrance for your roster or one of the most over the top entrances as well!

Graphics/Sound

As I mentioned, you have up to 38 “Legends” and the optional 45 “Superstars” from Smackdown! Vs. Raw 2009 at your disposal for creating your match ups. With 83 wrestlers, this is one of the biggest rosters to date for a WWE game. The game offers you the first 15 Wrestlemania arenas, each accurately portrayed as they looked when they first aired on television. One unique thing about the arenas is that when your wrestler comes out to the ring, the name display matches the accurate display from that year and event, focusing more on the accuracy of the event and giving fans that nostalgia of being at that particular Wrestlemania. In addition, you are also given a classic Royal Rumble arena as well (looks to be from either the 1993/1994 Royal Rumble).

The entrances are spot on, capturing each of the wrestler's moves perfectly as they enter into the ring. My only personal complaint about the entrances is that some of them are not historically accurate, but can be fixed in the “Create an Entrance” mode. For example, The Ultimate Warrior's entrance in the game features the use of pyro. While Warrior did use pyro at Wrestlemania XII, he DIDN'T have pyro for his entire career (like at his match at Wrestlemania VI).

Another thing about some of the wrestler's is the way they look. While Legends Of Wrestlemania was trying to go for the old-school arcade look of some wrestlers, the look seems to be completely overdone. Hulk Hogan is over muscular, Andre the Giant looks more ripped and cut than he ever did, and Ric Flair (both Legend and Smackdown! Vs. Raw 2009 versions) don't seem to look right. However, some wrestlers like Bam Bam Bigelow, The Road Warriors, and Jake “the snake” Roberts look like their actual real life counter parts from that time for the most part. The only other problem with the wrestlers looks are the “Superstars” from 2009. While the “Legends” look half way decent, the 2009 wrestlers have this white glow to them and they really don't seem to fit in too well with their Legend counterparts. While these are small nit picks, the roster and arenas are for the most part pretty accurate and don't take away from the fun.

The last thing about the game's graphics I want to mention is that there are times when the video game glitches up, and that takes away from the presentation of the overall game. One good point is when you use Jake “the snake” Roberts in a cage match and have the pin or submission option cut on for the match. If you defeat your opponent this way, Jake will do his regular post match celebration by placing his snake on his defeated opponent. While this is fine and dandy, the problem comes when the opponent leaves the ring by rolling THROUGH the bars of the cage and leaving the ring. Another issue is the ladder match; no matter which title is on the line, the belt you grab will be the WWE World Heavyweight Championship. Again, while these are small nit picks, I feel this does show the lack of effort on THQ's part of designing this game better than it could have been done.

Now the sound of the game is both a hit and miss when it comes to the entrance music, crowd chants, and commentary. Most of the entrance music used for the entrances is accurate while some are completely re-done versions of the wrestler's theme. For example, both “Legend” Undertaker and 2009 Undertaker come out to the SAME ring entrance. While both do have similar ring entrance themes, it would have been nice for THQ to be able to use some of the older themes (like they did with The Rock and Steve Austin) for the “Legend” counter part instead of using the 2009 theme for both (because it is simply inaccurate both from a wrestling stand point and game stand point).

The crowd chants are pretty decent and add to the flow of the match and game. However, it is clearly obvious that THQ did the same thing with the crowd chants that they did with the entrance music and that is they re-used the crowd chants from Smackdown! Vs. Raw 2009. A good example of this is when you are wrestling as “Legend” Ric Flair. During his crowd chants you hear “Thank You, Flair!” and “One More Match”. Why would the “Legend” Flair have these chants when he is suppose to be wrestling in his prime? Not a big complaint, but again just a lack of effort. Finally, on commentary in the game is “Good Old” Jim Ross and Jerry “The King” Lawler, with Ross doing play by play and Lawler doing color commentary. While it is good to have them do the commentary, the same thing that happens with all the commentary in a WWE game is that it tends to repeat itself after a short period of time (especially during an Iron Man match). Also, they tend to use the same commentary for both the Legend and 2009 wrestlers during their matches. When wrestling as “Legend” Shawn Michaels, Jim Ross refers to him as the “Leader of the New Generation of Wrestlers” (which he was dubbed in 1996 after his win at Wrestlemania XII and became the WWE World Heavyweight Champion). Yet, when you wrestle as Smackdown! Vs. Raw 2009 Shawn Michaels, JR will say the same exact thing about him. It's a little funny at first, but clearly shows the (again) the lack of effort on THQ's part.

Over all though, the graphics are very well done and the sound is decent, but some of the inaccuracies can add up after a while and might strike a nerve with some “nostalgic” wrestling fans. However, WWE has made games with worst commentary (WWF Smackdown!: Just Bring It) and visuals (WWE Raw), so these little lacks of effort aren't too bad and don't deter you away from the overall fun of the game.

Final Thoughts

While Legends Of Wrestlemania is a diversion from the Smackdown! Vs. Raw franchise, I believe the replayabilty of this game truly rests in the hands of individual playing it; meaning after you achieved all the achievements (all 19 of them) and played all the main modes, the game is pretty much left up to YOU to keep playing or not. If anything, this game reminds me of the old Wrestlemania games from the NES era – where you have a roster of wrestlers and it's up to you to use your imagination to make the best of the game. For big wrestling fans like me, you will constantly find ways to keep enjoying the game after completing all the main objectives. For those looking for in-depth storylines and match modes, this game won't be for you. However, the Wrestlemania Tour Mode is a unique concept allowing you to relive, rewrite, and redefine matches from Wrestlemanias past but it's the Exhibition Mode that is the real star of the game.

While wrestling fans never got their chance to see their dream match ups (due to retirements or deaths of wrestlers), this game offers you the chance to create those match-ups that will never take place. Match-ups such as Bret “the Hitman” Hart Vs. Stone Cold Steve Austin for the WWE World Heavyweight Championship, Arn Anderson Vs. Ric Flair in an Iron Man match, Hulk Hogan Vs. Randy Orton in a Hell in a Cell match, and many more. The only downside is that some legends (like Macho Man and Ricky Steamboat), weren't featured at all in this game (that is until WWE All-Stars came out in 2011) but besides that, the roster and match types give you plenty to work with, along with the first 15 Wrestlemania arenas, the Royal Rumble Arena, and the ability to make title matches on the spot. Legends Of Wrestlemania offers wrestling fans not only a great opportunity to create their own unique Wrestlemania Moments, but also offers solid gameplay, nostalgia, and fun that will keep them coming back for more.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 08/01/11

Game Release: Legends of Wrestlemania (US, 03/24/09)


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