|System: X360, PS3||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Yuke's Media Creations||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: March 24, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
to the Old-School Fans
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
March 9, 2009 - The WWE has been around for a long time. Although it has not always been known by this name, the same entertainment powerhouse between the current SmackDown and Raw franchises has been going strong since the 1950s. But, it really reached the apex of its popularity with the implementation of the WrestleMania annual event, which had its first run in 1985. Since then, historic matches have taken place, including the renowned match between Hulk Hogan and Andre the Giant. Since then, WrestleMania has been a staple of pop culture and has had many memorable moments.
WWE Legends of WrestleMania is a title that allows you to experience these historic matches in a whole new way, and we were able to get some hands-on time with it recently before its release later this month. The game has content from the first 15 WrestleMania events, and it gives you the opportunity to "Relive, Rematch, or Redefine" the main events from WrestleMania of the past in its main WrestleMania Tour gameplay mode. The Relive functionality allows you to play as the winner of the match and relive the best moments. You are able to win in-game awards for recreating these matches as faithfully as possible. The Rematch ability takes the opposite approach and has you playing as the losing party in an attempt to change history. The Redefine function is probably the most interesting of the three, allowing you to change the rules of the specific match to create your own version of the event.
In addition to the main WrestleMania mode, there is also a Legend Killer mode, which allows you to take a created character and use them against WWE Legends like Hulk Hogan and The Undertaker. Once you are able to beat all of the WWE Legends with your character, the game will then immortalize you as a WWE Legend. Although this mode does feel a little extraneous to the main mode, it is great if you want to have a more personal experience with the game.
But, if you just have to do things your own way, there is also a fairly deep free-play mode, which allows you to use your favorite WWE wrestler in an exhibition-style match with up to three other people. WWE Legends of WrestleMania does not have the 40+ match types from last year's SmackDown vs. Raw 2009, but instead goes for a very simplistic approach and includes standard two-man, tag team, and Royal Rumble matches. There is no handicap ability, and, unlike SvR, you cannot use items, weapons, or other environmental elements during the match.
One very interesting facet of this title is the control scheme. If you are familiar with the SmackDown vs. Raw series, you may think you know what to expect going into this title. However, Legends of WrestleMania features a much simpler pick-up-and-play control scheme that is very casual-friendly. The control scheme uses just the face buttons, with buttons tied to very general attack, block, and grapple functions. Although a lot of the control depth is lost here, and longtime fans may feel like the control makes the game feel a little bit on the easy side, the casual-centric controls do a good job of letting the user really experience the different matches, which is certainly great for those who pick this title up for sheer nostalgic value.
In addition to the toned-down control system, there is also a new manager system, which makes the gameplay experience feel even more streamlined. This option essentially allows you to pick one of the WWE's most infamous managers, like Bret Hart or Bobby "The Brain" Heenan to support your wrestler during their match. This manager will intervene on your behalf when the match starts getting intense. You do not have to press any buttons to engage a manager intervention; they will temporarily disable your foes completely on their own. This is a great way to keep casual gamers from getting overwhelmed by tough opponents, and it gives them a clear opportunity to fight back if they are down in a fight.
As far as the roster is concerned, WWE Legends of WrestleMania has plenty of superstars to keep you playing. Old-school standbys like Andre the Giant, The Animal, Sgt. Slaughter, and Iron Sheik. In addition to these classic wrestlers, there is some new blood here, and you can play with contemporary legends like The Undertaker, Stone Cold Steve Austen, and The Rock. The roster is definitely impressive, and its variety should please both longtime and current fans.
Even though this title is definitely intended for the vintage wrestling fan, if you are a diehard SvR fan, then there are quite a few extras in this game specifically for you. The coolest extra is, if you have a SmackDown vs. Raw save file, you can import all your unlocked superstars into Legends of WrestleMania, which puts your roster at almost 100 individual wrestlers. You can also import any characters you have created in SmackDown vs. Raw 2009, which you can then use in the Legend Killer mode detailed above.
As far as graphics are concerned, the game has a similar look to SmackDown vs. Raw, with realistic and detailed character models and backgrounds. One thing that fans will appreciate is the faithfully recreated arenas and entrances from the original WrestleMania matches. The game also features original costumes from the different wrestlers, and it does a good job of preserving each Legend's most memorable "look." Although some character proportions have been altered slightly - Andre the Giant is a little on the short side and features a lot more muscle definition than you may remember - these changes are mostly innocuous and serve to add consistency to the game's look more than anything else.
Although Legends of WrestleMania is definitely a departure from the tried-and-true SmackDown vs. Raw formula, it is a game intended for a different audience. The simple pick-up-and-play control scheme will certainly appeal to wrestling fans of all ages, and it makes this title accessible to just about any WWE fan. With a plethora of modes, characters, and extras, this title is shaping up to be on the "must-play" list for any WWE fan. Look for its release later this month.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor