When most people heard about WWE Legends of Wrestlemania, they we’re not only stunned, but most of then went weak in the knees, with the fact that, you no longer had to “unlock” or “create” your favorite legends to play them. There is was; all 38 legends in an incredible roster that promoters can only dream about. But the thing with legends is that you expect it to win..and sadly..it just doesn’t live up to the hype that was built from last year’s E3.
Well I’m one of those rabid SmackDown vs. Raw fans that has just not digested this game completely. For one, it lacks the depth in controls provided by the SvR series, at least in terms of gameplay. Compared to the control schemes of SvR, Legends sticks to the face buttons. That’s right, four buttons (strike, grapple, block, action) are all you need to control this game. It’s a move that’s aimed at wrangling those casual gamers that seem to be floating around the fringe of the industry; THQ hopes people see Hogan and Big Bossman, feel like this scheme isn’t intimidating and pick up the game. Disappointing to say the least.
Chief among my complaints is that the scheme leads to matches not feeling exciting. Yeah, I know that Kamala and Dusty Rhodes were never known for blazing speed, but playing Legends isn’t as simple as grappling, striking and so on. Sure, the punches, kicks and grabs move just like SVR, but often times you’ll start moves that lead to chain grapples — basically quicktime events. A move starts, lumbers around the ring and you need to hit the button on the screen to keep it going. A handful of chains don’t give you a specific prompt, but instead let you choose which face button you want to hit when the screen flashes blue.
Of course, if you’re getting this move done to you, you can hit the onscreen button and reverse the move. While you’re pulling off these moves, you’re building a momentum meter underneath your name. When you fill the meter, you move to the level two meter. Fill that, and you’ll move to the level three meter and can unleash your finisher at anytime (every finisher is a chain and starts from the standing position). Each one of these tiers has different moves that tend to be more powerful.
This whole chain grapple pacing just feels off to me — it doesn’t feel like a real wrestling match. You hit your finisher and you’re immediately back to momentum level one. If you taunt, you lose a level of momentum but can get bonuses such as being irreversible for a period of time. Still, once you’re in the red — meaning your health meter is completely drained — you can be pinned super-easily, so it’s in your benefit to win matches as quickly as possible. Kicking out or climbing the cage comes down to pounding the face buttons and while the computer can kick out with ease, it’ll be a struggle for you even after taking minimal damage. Beating on the computer is simple, and playing real people often just leads to cheapo victories.
Of course, this feeling of the matches not being quite right is only made worse by the number of liberties THQ has taken with the Superstars of yesterday. Rather than give characters spot-on physiques from their heyday, THQ has reimagined the stars with action-figure like bodies. It doesn’t take a WWE historian to see the adverse effect this choice has when you sit down to play the game. King Kong Bundy was never this defined, Hulk Hogan never had that much hair, and people just couldn’t toss around Andre the Giant like this. Am I nitpicking? Yup, but these kind of errors were to be expected when you dropped old school folks into SVR; this is a game that’s all their own. Why have these Legend issues been ignored?
Apart from the issues with the controls, the career mode is lacklusture. There are some intersting in game goals you need to finish, like slam dunking Andre the Giant with Hulk Hogan. Think of them as re-playing WrestleMania Moments. Yeah, just to give you that kick and say ‘I was there live’..NOT! What sucks is that Legends’ biggest pro is also one of its most obvious cons; I’m talking about presentation. So, those videos before the Relive, Rewrite, and Redefine matches are awesome and they’re followed up with some truly nifty wrestler entrances. When Andre walks out in the WrestleMania III arena, there’s that red bar with yellow text above it straight from my old VHS tapes in my Dad’s attic. When Stone Cold needs to slam the Rock’s head into the WrestleMania XV sign, it’s the gigantic XV at the end of the aisle you remember. Paul Bearer’s Urn antics are spot on; the ring ropes are red, white and blue when they should be; and Caesar’s Palace is outside. The problem is that the game fails at so many little things. Championships are in the game, but only one version of each belt shows up. That means Stone Cold and the Rock are battling over the mid-’90s WWE Title instead of the circular WWE title from the Attitude Era. Regardless of the title on the line in a ladder match, the winner pulls down the WWE title only to have it morph to the title at stake during the celebration. My issues aren’t just limited to belts. The Junk Yard Dog’s only in one Rewrite match; in the video proceeding the bout, he’s in white pants, but his character model is in red pants.
Another boring element is the CAS of Create a Superstar. I’m not getting into this. My lack of excitement for the CAS feature in Legends probably has to do with the fact that there’s really nothing to play around with. Because you can’t shove a created character into the historically driven WrestleMania Tour Mode, the non-exhibition option for created Superstars is Legend Killer. Here, you’ll choose from six lists of wrestlers and go at it in a gauntlet-type format that only gives you a bit of health back from match to match. Most of these give you ten Superstars to face, you go down the line and are then awarded experience points you can put toward your Superstar’s attributes. If you’re like me and put on some decent matches, you’ll have your CAS maxed out before you’ve unlocked all the Legend Killer lists. These things usually take about a half hour without the entrances and you cannot save mid-gauntlet. If you have to quit, you lose everything. That might not sound too bad — you know you need to dedicate about a half hour to playing — but when you unlock the final tier, you’ll find out you have to wrestle 38 Superstars. That’s right — 38 in a row without the ability to save. That sucks.
The saving grace I would think…is the fact that you can import the entire roster from WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2009. All you need is an SVR save on your hard drive and you can bring over every character — including your created Superstars but excluding your DLC — via the main menu. Once they’re in the game, the characters will look just like they did in SVR and have their original entrances, but they’ll now have chain grapples like everyone else in the game. It’s an easy way to pad the roster.
Don’t bother about online play its the same boring jazz. So all in all this game is quite boring. Nothing to keep you up all night. But yes, it does have its interesting moments. Playing as the Ultimate Warrior. Bret Hart vs Bull Dog and you know the fun matches, just come alive with the very very nice graphics! But it could have just been a lot lot better.