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Legends of Wrestling

Review By:  Nick Arvites

Developer:   Acclaim
Publisher:   Acclaim
# of Players:   1-4
Genre:   Wrestling
ESRB:   Teen
Online:   No
Accessories:   HDD (import music)
Date Posted:  

6-18-02

Acclaim isnít really known for its top wrestling games. Honestly, Acclaim isnít really known for having top games recently in any field. Having lost the WWF/WWE license to THQ and the ECW license to a buyout from WWE, Acclaim was left without a league to design a game around. That apparently did not stop Acclaim. Instead of concentrating on one single league, they managed to throw some of the most famous names of all time into one game titled "Legends of Wrestling." However, even with a great idea like that, Acclaim still cannot make a game worth spending the full 49.95 MSRP.

Like the name suggests, Legends of Wrestling takes some of the top wrestlers of yesteryear and drops them into a game. The featured wrestler is Hulk Hogan, but it really seems to go down from there. Sure, it includes the Road Warriors/Legion of Doom, Ted "the Million Dollar Man" DiBiase, Jimmy Snuka, Bret Hart and many others, but the roster lacks several major wrestlers including Jake Roberts, Randy Savage, Ric Flair and Andre the Giant. The two additions to the rosters that left me wondering were Sabu and Rob Van Dam. Donít get me wrong, Sabu and RVD are great, but they do not even belong in the same game as the rest of the roster (with the exception of Terry Funk) because they arenít even from the same style of matches. The announced sequel seems to have attempted to fix the roster problems, but the world will have to bear with this game for a while.

The control scheme reminded me of WWF Raw because it simply took good ideas and dropped them in a blender. I actually liked this control scheme because it reminded me of THQís N64 method with a few additions. Acclaim calls it the ISP (Intermediate Start Position) System, but I like to call it the BMS (Button Mashing System). During a grapple, players press one of the other buttons to perform a certain move. Some of the buttons bring you to a position for a few seconds where you can jam another button to perform a stronger move. There are also counter bars that fly every time a move is pulled. If you hit the corresponding buttons, you can counter a move being done to you or make the move you are attempting stronger or end up in a pin/submission. The system is great in theory. However, the word "sucks" describes it in practice. The button response is extremely sluggish, so running moves are close to impossible to pull off. The ISP/BMS system is cool, but it eventually turns the game into a button masher because of the way counters are set up.

Graphically, the game is ok. WWF Raw looks slightly better because the characters have a realistic look. The characters in Legends of Wrestling (in fitting with the time periods that the characters wrestled during) have a larger than life look. Characters look almost muscularly disproportional. However, Acclaim did do their homework since the wrestlers look extremely close to their real life counterparts. Letís come to reality folks, these wrestlers looked HUGE during their prime and this game captures that feeling perfectly.

The game plays like wrestling matches were until the 1980ís. The matches are fairly slow paced although this is due to the match style. There really arenít any of the fast paced modern moves or hardcore wrestling antics of ECW. The game is based on punches, kicks, and grapple moves.

There are not a major variety of matches and that is a shame. There is single, tag, 3 way and 4 way dances. You cannot recreate some of the greatest cage matches of all time and you cannot take on Terry Funk in a hardcore match. This really kills the gameís replay value. However, the introductions to the matches are a great innovation. There is an announcer that hypes the character (spouting off info like height, weight, and nicknames). The audience also reacts to the entrance walk and the announcing. Itís interesting, but it still cannot extend the replay value.

The matches are slow, but interesting. Instead of just breaking out of a submission hold, wrestlers flip around and crawl towards the ropes in a dramatic fashion. A Referee is present during the matches. Managers can distract the ref and wrestlers can "accidentally" bump into the ref. Acclaim manages to do what every other game needs to do: they added an interactive referee to the picture. There are weapons, but they arenít as extensive as a modern wrestler (not that they should be). An "audience interest" meter, located at the top of the screen, indicates the match rating. This meter is positively and negatively affected by various actions such as repetitive moves, dangerous moves, weapon shots and ref bumps.

The Career mode is the high point of this game. It captures the wrestling world during its pre-WWF/WCW phase. Your character must go from territory to territory to capture the title belt. You eventually move up to the world stage. In order to get a belt, you must be popular enough with the crowds. How do you gain popularity? This is where the audience interest meter comes in handy. You must win matches with the meter ranking all the way up to gain popularity points. However, the career mode does get extremely repetitive and there really isnít any sort of storyline or plot to all of it. Hopefully this is improved in the sequel.

The game does have a Create-a-legend feature. Its decent, but it still does not seem to capture the full potential of the next generation systems. I did like it better than WWF Rawís feature mainly because it allows you to chose pre-recorded names, hometowns, and nicknames as well as import an entrance theme from the hard drive.

Highs:

  • Some of the greatest wrestlers ever
  • Import music in the Create-a-legend feature

Lows:

  • Characters look like they inject more steroids than Major League Baseball players
  • Gets boring quickly
  • No gimmick matches
  • Rob Van Dam and Sabu do not fit
  • No Ric Flair or Andre the Giant

Final Verdict: 

Legends of Wrestling is by no means a horrible game. It does manage to follow the trend of next generation wrestling titles. It does not deliver and actually disappoints. It also follows the Xbox tradition of not providing any sort of replay value or gimmick matches in the game. Iíd buy this game before Iíd waste my money on WWF Raw, but I doubt Iíd spend more than 20 bucks on it. So, whatís the final verdict? Either grab it out of a bargain bin or rent it.

Overall Score: 5.8

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