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by Acclaim

02-01.jpg (6791 bytes)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.

06-01.jpg (7221 bytes)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.

04-01.jpg (7301 bytes)Legends of 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.

08-01.jpg (7601 bytes)There are 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.

07-01.jpg (7596 bytes)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. Alaim’s visual portrayal of the wrestlers are not designed to be realistic with body designs that seem to be inspired by the 80’s cartoon "Hulk Hogan’s Rock N’ Wrestling. The legend’s skins have a very rubber like quality to them, so it’s 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.

01-01.jpg (7609 bytes)Mixing 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 it’s 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; it’s the grapple finishers that have a tendency not to work at all. This really is the worst problem with the entire control system.

03-01.jpg (7852 bytes)Legends of Wrestling is a stroll down memory lane that helps to bring back to the light the ones that paved the way for our current heroes and villains to be where they are today. Having a career mode that is actually better than Smackdown 3 is also a nice bonus. Not without its share of flaws, Legends of Wrestling is a welcome change that wrestling fans should try. Those who are old school wrestling fans should sit up and take notice before these legends fade away back to obscurity.

Jake Carder   (04/03/2002)


Ups: Old school wrestlers; career mode; simple controls.

Downs: Load times; Jimmy Hart's voice; finicky finishers.

Platform: PlayStation 2