There was a time in the annuls of
wrestling that the good guys did not wear black. More emphasis was on wrestling matches
than on in-depth story lines. Before the ring was dominated by the names of the Rock,
Triple H and Stone Cold Steve Austin they were ruled by Hulk Hogan, Ricky the Dragon
Steamboat and Iron Sheik: the Legends of Wrestling. Acclaim, who once had the rights to
publish games for the WWF, now takes these legends, dusts them off and lets them loose.
Legends of Wrestling
boasts over 40 characters. If you have only been watching wrestling for the past five
years there will be many names that are unfamiliar to you. Recognizable names are the
likes of Hogan, Road Warriors and Bret "Hitman" Hart. Recognize any of these
names, "Hot Stuff" Eddie Gilbert, Kerry Von Eric or Superstar Billy Graham?
Unfortunately not all the legends are represented. Notable absences include Macho Man
Randy Savage and "Hot Rod" Roddy Roddy Piper.
Wrestling, whether intentional or not, accurately portrays the indy scene where many
legends have started and finished their wrestling careers. The venues are broken up into
five sections each composed of three cities. You will see these venues while playing the
career mode. Keeping up with realistic portrayal of indy wrestling, on any given night you
are not aware of how many or who you will be facing in the ring. The only thing really
missing is the occasional cancellation of a match. That can be arranged if you have a
family member randomly turn of your PS2 while you are in the middle of playing. While the
turning off of the system is something that you do not have to worry about, the issue of
not knowing your opponents is a nuisance to deal with. What would it have taken to put up
a marquee during one of the many drawn out loading times? After three successful matches
you will be awarded a title match. Once won, another section is opened up to attempt to
conquer. Complete all five to finish your career. Finishing the career mode with certain
legends unlocks more combatants. For instance if you win career mode with the Iron Shiek,
Sabu will become playable.
only three voices you will hear and thankfully not too often. In the career mode your
guidance comes from two managers. For the good guys it's Jimmy "Mouth of the
South" Hart and for the wrong doers it's Capt. Lou Albano. I find this rather
strange. In the height of their popularity these roles were reversed. Hart managed the
heels and Albano the faces. Each of the two real life legends lends their voices to the
game. I had forgotten how much Jimmy Hart's voice is like fingernails on a blackboard.
Those expecting the familiar entrance music will not find it. They do have some music that
is similar to the similarities to the tunes they used to arrive to the ring to. Grunts and
groans will fill the air to illustrate that our aging legends are not yet dead.
As far as
the appearance of these legends, Acclaim keeps them larger than life. Many even look
better than they ever did in real life. Alaims visual portrayal of the wrestlers are
not designed to be realistic with body designs that seem to be inspired by the 80s
cartoon "Hulk Hogans Rock N Wrestling. The legends skins have a
very rubber like quality to them, so its no surprise that they move like Gumby.
Running is really when the gumbiness become blatant. At least the moves are recognizable
despite the pausing the game does between lock-up and performing the maneuver. A more
seamless transition would have made the flow of the matches a lot more palatable. Legends
of Wrestling also contains a create-a-wrestler mode that has quite a bit of depth to it--
nearly everything you could expect from a mode such as this. There is even a way for you
to design your own tattoos to decorate your wrestler. Finally, the rings in an arena are
each unique, fitting the theme of the city. In actuality this has more arena than even the
Smackdown series has.
control schemes from the previous wrestling games developed by Acclaim creates a unique
way of playing the game. It is not without its share of flaws, but overall its easy
to pickup and play. Making sure there is plenty of offense, the controls call for a
pressing one button to lock-up with an opponent, and another to perform the specific
maneuver. Before it can be pulled off though the opponent has an opportunity to reverse
it. To reverse a move you must press a designated button at the right moment. The problem
with this is that this forces you to watch your power meter more than the wrestlers in the
ring. In keeping with the simplicity of the game are the finishing maneuvers. A simple
flick of the right analog performs the final blow in a match. The problem with this
simplicity is the times that is just simply does not work. Ground finishers have no
problems; its the grapple finishers that have a tendency not to work at all. This
really is the worst problem with the entire control system.