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Review of WWE Legends of WreslteMania for the XBOX 360

Review of WWE Legends of WrestleMania for the XBOX 360

 

 

 

WWE Legends of WrestleMania is a spin-off of the established WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw series. Legends of WrestleMania uses the same game engine featured in SmackDown! vs. Raw, but uses a more arcade gameplay style. The game is designed to make things more simplified for players that stopped playing the seemingly more complex simulation wrestling style game that is SmackDown! vs. Raw. SmackDown! vs. Raw is controlled primarily through the use of the 2 analog sticks on a controller. Legends of WrestleMania is primarily controlled through the use of only the left analog stick and the 4-face buttons. This is reminiscent of how a player would control their virtual grappler on an arcade machine with a joystick next to a 4-button game-pad.

Outside of the control scheme, there are some obvious differences in the gameplay between Legends of WrestleMania and SmackDown! vs. Raw to accommodate less advanced players. The most noticeable is that there are no rope breaks in this game. Rope breaks make novice players frustrated. Therefore, in an effort to make the game accessible to novice players rope breaks were left out of the game. This allows players to go for pins and submissions without having to think about their positioning in the ring. (Even in video games, ring psychology is becoming a lost art.) That is the only major rule the game abandons, though. Disqualifications and count-outs are still in effect throughout the game.

Legends of WrestleMania is designed to be a nostalgic look back at the past, focusing on WrestleMania's I through XV. Therefore, the animation is designed to be nostalgic in addition to having that cartoonish arcade style. In this game, it appears the 10' tall Andre the Giant made the switch from trunks to the singlet, because the trunks could no longer hold his rippling abdominal muscles and not to hide his bulging gut as his body broke down on him. The virtual Hulk Hogan would have had the largest arms in the world. The developers at THQ were looking to make the Legends in the game resemble what people remembered them as, not what they truly were. This is probably the reason the game has no referees. Since, it would look ludicrous to throw a normal or small sized referee in with the over-sized Legends. Even the diminutive Jimmy Hart is disproportionately large in this game. That makes putting a regular sized referee in amongst these giants not feasible aesthetically.

Continuing on the theme of revisionist history, the move package of almost all of the Legends have been greatly enhanced to make them more enjoyable to play. Mr. Perfect, Shawn Michaels and Bret Hart had more then enough moves at WrestleMania X to keep players satisfied 15 years later. However, the bare bones offense of Andre the Giant, King Kong Bundy and Hulk Hogan needed some augmentation to be more acceptable to the tastes of players today.

The game features 3 different story modes based around WrestleMania. They are called Relive, Rewrite and Redefine. The Relive mode is pretty self explanatory. The game sets the player as the winning wrestler in a legendary WrestleMania match. The player is then tasked with winning the match in the same way and asked to do some of the things that happened in those historic matches as they win in order to win a medal that counts towards earning unlockable, costumes, videos and the always important achievement points. The basic tasks are things such as, playing as Hogan slam Andre at WrestleMania III. Then there will be some extra tasks, like at WrestleMania VII playing as Hogan vs. Sgt. Slaughter there is an optional goal for getting color. (The game does not require the player to pretend to get color off a plastic folding chair like Hogan did, though.) Then there will be some very complicated tasks to accomplish, for example when playing as Steve Austin against The Rock at WrestleMania XV. There after splashing Rock through the Spanish announcers table, the player must immediately pick up the water bottle off the English announce table and spit it on The Rock.

The Rewrite mode is also relatively simple. The player re-enacts a classic WrestleMania match under the original rules, but changes the outcome. In some cases this is to have the same Legend win the match, but this time win the title. For example, the first match the player is asked to rewrite is from WrestleMania I. They play as Junkyard Dog challenging for the Intercontinental Championship being held by Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, who was accompanied to the ring by Jimmy Hart. At the real WestleMania I, Valentine pinned Junkyard Dog while holding the ropes. However, the referee was informed of Valentine's cheating and ordered the match re-started. Unfortunately, Hart refused to let his charge back into the ring after the referee ordered the match to continue. Therefore, Junkyard Dog won via countout, but did not get the title. Here the player is asked to play as Junkyard Dog and win the match by pinfall or submission to take home the title.

The Rewrite mode culminates by asking players to change the outcome of the legendary Iron-man Match between Bret Hart and Shawn Michaels at WrestleMania XII. This time in a shortened 10-minute format, the player takes on the roll of Bret Hart and is supposed to retain the title by having the most falls when time expires. This mode, like Relive features the same sort of benchmarks that need to be accomplished to win gold medals. In this match, one of the bench marks is to put Michaels in the sharpshooter twice. In this game, unlike at WrestleMania XII if Michaels is locked in the sharpshooter he will tap out. Legends of WrestleMania draws a stark contrast to SmackDown! vs. Raw on the issue of finishers. These wrestlers are Legends and their signature finishers are protected in this game. In SmackDown! vs. Raw, kicking out of finishers is routine by both human and computer controlled wrestlers. In Legends of WrestleMania, a finisher does what it is supposed to do, finish a match. In the over 100 pinfall or submission matches I played, a finisher did not lead to a finish at most 3 times.

The Redefine Mode in the game allows players to be either participant of several legendary WrestleMania matches that are being recreated, under whole new stipulations. This is the mode that requires players to truly suspend their disbelief and forget about what really happened back in those days. This is most glaringly highlighted in the first match where the player is supposed to recreate the match at WrestleMania I between Andre and John Studd with Bobby Heenan. The change is that this time the match will be "Hell in a Cell" to keep Heenan from interfering. That is already an odd stipulation, since Andre won the original match despite Heenan's interference. However, logic goes completely out the window when Andre wants to start the match on top of the cell. The thought of a hobbling Andre and an immobile Studd climbing the cell, reveals reality has little place in this game mode. The historical accuracy in the Redefine Mode also breaks down very badly in the culminating match of the mode. The player is asked to recreate Undertaker with Paul Bearer vs. King Kong Bundy from WrestleMania XI. This was a straight singles match, but the game changes it to a no disqualification match. Historically this makes some sense. The storyline setting up the real match was that Bundy was being managed by Ted DiBiase who had taken possession of Undertaker's urn. Throughout the match DiBiase and the rest of his crew would interfere frequently on behalf of Bundy. There was a match long struggle for control of the urn that ended when Kama finally stole the urn back from Bearer and left ringside. (That kicked off the memorable angle where Kama melted it down and turned it into a necklace sparking his great feud with Undertaker.) However, despite the fact DiBiase is in the game, he is not at ringside. This turns the match into largely a handicap match against Bundy, who lost the original match.

WWE Legends of WrestleMania is an enjoyable game, but there are some things to criticize about the game. First, there are some things that THQ cannot be criticized for about the game. That is primarily the roster. The roster is composed of people signed to WWE Legends contracts. That is why there is no Randy Savage. It is practically a minor miracle that Ultimate Warrior is in this game, and THQ needs to be given a lot of credit for making that happen.

Now, the game is very short and probably too easy for many players. A player can easily make it through all the single player story and the Legend Killer Mode in a weekend with time to spare. The Legend Killer Mode, where a player uses a Legend they created to defeat the game's roster several times is no challenge. With the ability to add an extra-tier to the mode for 10 additional matches with SmackDown! vs. Raw 2009, there are 88 matches in this mode that provides no replayability. My legend was able to go 88-0 with most victories coming under 3 minutes and many coming in around 1 minute.

Winning the matches in the story mode is not very challenging, either. The difficulty comes from trying to accomplish enough benchmarks to earn the gold medal, while winning every match. In the matches where it is most difficult to earn the gold medal, the challenge is generally not satisfying, but frustrating. There are 2 matches where it seemed exceedingly difficult to get the gold medal. In both of those matches, the challenge did not add to the gameplay experience, but detract from it.

The first match where it was very hard to get the gold medal the WrestleMania VI match between Ultimate Warrior and Hulk Hogan, and was found in the Relive Mode. All of the benchmarks were relatively easy and normal things to accomplish, except for 2 goals. The player needed to win at least 1 of 2 button-mashing mini-games against the computer to earn the gold medal. This artificial mini-game is not a part of the regular gameplay experience and it is not enjoyable.

The second match where it was hard to get the gold medal was the WrestleMania XIV match between Steve Austin and Shawn Michaels. This match is also found in the Relive Mode and is largely broken. It starts off well with Michaels being accompanied to the ring by Triple H as he was in real life. (Michaels was also accompanied to the ring by Chyna, but she is not in this game. There are no women in this game.) In real life, this was a no disqualification match that saw Triple H and Chyna acting as Michaels managers ejected from ringside for interfering. However in the game that has a focus on managers, Triple H stands virtually motionless on the ramp as the match progresses around him. The match gets progressively more "buggy" as the brawling continues on the outside. One of the key goals a player must accomplish in the match is take Michaels over to where the drum kit is set up on the stage and use an environmental grapple. In theory, this is supposed to have Michaels be hit with part of the drum kit. Unfortunately, the animation is broken. Therefore, when the player activates the objective they get hit with the drum kit and slammed into the nearby dumpster. This does a tremendous amount of damage to the player and can lead to getting pinned.

WWE Legends of WrestleMania returns all of the graphical bugs that have plagued the SmackDown! vs. Raw series. Some of them have gotten a little better, but it is generally more of the same. For a more detailed look at those here is the review of WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2009 for the XBOX 360: http://www.number1contender.net/the-latest/2009/1/22/review-of-smackdown-vs-raw-2009-for-the-xbox-360.htmlThe problems are inherent in the dated SmackDown! vs. Raw game engine. Unless THQ shelves the series for a period to fix all of the bugs or introduces a new game engine it is unlikely that these problems will ever all be resolved.

Finally, SmackDown! vs. Raw 2009 featured the best tag team mode ever in a WWE video game. The simplified control scheme in Legends of WrestleMania have almost completely rolled back the advances that had been made to the previous tag team mode. Legendary tag teams like the Road Warriors and Hart Foundation are in this game. However, this game is about singles wrestling and the tag team mode is a terrible disappointment.

Legends of WrestleMania is generally a good game, but may be doing more long-term harm then good. WCW plunged into an even steeper decline when they launched Thunder, because they simply had too much product out there. WWE is scaling back the number of PPV's, because after a certain number people start picking and choosing which PPV's to buy and not buying every show. It appears that the video game market has reached its point of saturation with wrestling video games.

WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2008 that was released in November 2007 was not considered a very good game, but sold very well. WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2009 was a very good game, but has sold only about half as many copies as WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2008 did at the same point. What happened was that consumers who had bought years of bad WWE video games decided to stop buying them. In 2008, the video game industry experienced double digit growth, but it did not translate to WWE video games. What appears to have happened is that THQ and WWE became over-reliant on the PS2 to sell WWE video games. As that console dies, their sales numbers decline. Now, WWE and THQ are releasing a second game exclusively onto the XBOX 360 and PS3 only 4 months after their last one that was somewhat of a failure.

At this point, THQ as a company is doing very poorly and losing lots of money. It has lost money 7 of the last 8 quarters, with the lone exception being the quarter that saw the release of SmackDown! vs. Raw 2008. In addition to being over-reliant on the PS2, THQ has become over-reliant on licensed titles with the WWE franchise one of their key licenses. However, THQ is losing the WWE license. They have known it for quite some time. WWE filed a lawsuit in 2006 to get out of their contract with THQ. That lawsuit was dismissed. However, it is a sure bet that THQ will be losing the WWE license when WWE has the first opportunity to break away. That is either at the end of this year or the end of 2014.

A financially sound company that is in things for the long haul, would not look to possibly further over-saturate the market with WWE games. This risks doing long-term damage to the WWE brand name. However, THQ is in a struggle to survive at the moment and knows they only have the WWE license around for a few more years. Therefore, they need to maximize the amount they can make off the license now, with no thought to how much the license will be worth in 2015.

The early international sales figures suggest that this game is not selling well. The WWE video game market appears to be taking a colossal tumble. This is not something that can simply be credited to the economy. Other high profile games and franchises are still selling very well. It appears there are simply too many WWE games being made right now and while WWE Legends of WrestleMania is a fine game it is making the situation worse. Asking people to spend $60 on a WWE video game twice in 4 months appears to have been too much. These same consumers are going to be asked for $60 again in November for another WWE video game. The trend appears that even fewer of them will buy it at that time. There are simply too many WWE video games, now. Even if THQ makes good ones at this point they are going to sell fewer and fewer copies. When the WWE video game license eventually ends up in the hands of another developer, it will have been greatly devalued by having been over-produced by THQ.

This is an average game that could be an enjoyable rental or worth picking up after it takes a sharp price drop. However, it appears it may be doing a great deal of long term damage to the WWE video game market and the WWE brand name. It is not as good as WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2009. WWE Legends of WrestleMania is better then SmackDown! vs. Raw 2008. It is worlds better then TNA iMPACT!, but so is The Plague. WWE Legends of WrestleMania gets a 3/5.

 

 

 

News and Notes: File this under your childhood was really not that great. Here is the complete match listing from WWE Legends of WrestleMania with the star rating they received from Dave Meltzer in the following weeks' Wrestling Observer Newsletter. (Thanks to Dan Wahlers for help on the research here and to the Legendary Dave Meltzer for letting me re-publish this and for watching decades of horrific wrestling.):

 

WrestleMania I

Junkyard Dog vs. Greg Valentine: 1/2*

Andre the Giant vs. Big John Studd: -**

 

WrestleMania II

Hulk Hogan vs. King Kong Bundy: *1/4

 

WrestleMania III

Jake Roberts vs. Honky Tonk Man: **1/2

Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant: -****

 

WrestleMania IV

Brutus Beefcake vs. Honky Tonk Man: Dud

 

WrestleMania V

Ultimate Warrior vs. Rick Rude: **1/2

 

WrestleMania VI

Rick Rude vs. Jimmy Snuka: *3/4

Ultimate Warrior vs. Hulk Hogan: ***3/4

 

WrestleMania VII

Big Boss Man vs. Mr. Perfect: **1/2

Hulk Hogan vs. Sgt Slaughter: **1/2

 

WrestleMania VIII

Bret Hart vs. Roddy Piper: ***1/2

 

WrestleMania IX

Yokozuna vs. Bret Hart: ***

 

WrestleMania X

Yokozuna vs. Bret Hart: **1/4

 

WrestleMania XI

Undertaker vs. King Kong Bundy: -*

 

WrestleMania XII

Bret Hart vs. Shawn Michaels: ****1/4

 

WrestleMania XIII

Bret Hart vs. Steve Austin: *****

 

WrestleMania XIV

Steve Austin vs. Shawn Michaels: ***1/4

 

WrestleMania XV

Steve Austin vs. The Rock: ***1/2

 

In an odd note, the "Legend" that could have most helped bolster the games roster with good matches outside of the obvious Owen Hart, Randy Savage and Ricky Steamboat was Diesel, Kevin Nash. The game was required to have 1 match from each WrestleMania and they wanted to get an Undertaker match in there, also. Diesel had the best match with Undertaker at a WrestleMania in the game's time period at WrestleMania XII. Also, Diesel vs. Shawn Michaels was the best match at WrestleMania XI. The lack of Diesel forced the developers to put Undertaker vs. Bundy from WrestleMania XI in the game instead.

 

 

 

The next video game review is going to cover UFC Undisputed 2009 that is slated for release on the XBOX 360 in the United States on May 19, 2009.

 

 


Sincerely,

 

Jereme Warneck

number1contender.net

Boxing and Video Game Correspondent for f4wonline.com

Hidden Valley Lake, CA

 

I can be reached for feedback and comments at ZurRoadie@aol.com or as JeremeW on XBOX Live. I read everything.

Posted on Thursday, April 16, 2009 at 01:08PM by Registered CommenterJereme | Comments2 Comments | References8 References

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Reader Comments (2)

Hi,

I am fan of wwe superstars and i am crazy about them..
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November 16, 2009 | Unregistered Commenterr4i card

The create modes are similarly unaltered. You can design belts, movesets, stables, entrances, and finally, a superstar.

December 10, 2009 | Unregistered Commenternintendo dsi r4

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