Remembering the pure awesomeness of Hulk Hogan being pitted against Sgt. Slaughter in Wrestlemania VII. I was just a kid when I saw this but I vividly remember the genuine fear I felt as I watched the Hulkster take a chair to the head, which lead to a very bloody wound. When Hogan finally took Slaughter down I rose up and cheered along with my buddies (one of who’s Mom ordered it from pay per view). Since that time, as I grew up, I never really watched WW
FE. Sure I know of the more famous wrestlers of our age such as Steve Austin, Dwayne Johnson, etc but it never really captivated me as it did in my youth.
This is why I found myself an odd choice to review THQ’s WWE Legends of Wrestlemania. Why am I reviewing a WWE title? Well, as it turns out, the timing just did not work out for me to get the game to its rightful reviewer so here we are. It was with a pensive heart that I loaded the game up on my Xbox 360.
This pensiveness faded as I was treated to the familiar Hogan anthem (‘I am a real American’) at the menu screen and was quickly replaced by a warm feeling of nostalgia. Maybe this game would be good? I decided to start off with a simple exhibition match and selected myself as Hulk Hogan (of course) and as my opponent, that jabroni, Andre the Giant.
Enter the introductions. THQ has painstakingly recreated the exact introductions which the wrestlers were given in their matches. Hogan comes out to ‘I am a real American’ and saunters into the ring then up the turnbuckle placing his hand to his ears. Most awesome of the introductions is when you set your wrestler to be The Undertaker and his manager, of course, Paul Bearer. This intro sequence is simply uncanny. Why did we find a guy wearing purple gloves so scary anyway? But I digress, it is extremely cool and worth the watch. I forgot just how long the introductions ran. You can even select a manager for your wrestler who will help out at opportune moments by sometimes restoring your stamina or even grabbing your opponent giving you a few seconds to recover and/or attack.
Enter the match. THQ has replaced the control schemes found in past wrestling titles with a much more streamlined interface consisting of the left analog stick and the four main buttons of the Xbox 360 controller. The bumpers and triggers and not used in WWE Legends of Wrestlemania. In addition, when locked up with your opponent you are often witness to quicktime events (QEs), whomever hits the QE first succeeds in the move being presented. These are usually seen in very complex grapples and maneuvers which would just be too complicated for the average user to pull off with the controller. There is definite challenge in the QEs as they are only presented for a limited time before the grapple progresses. You will be treated to three of these QEs per complicated grapple. This way, in case you fail the first one you have a chance to recover on the second, etc. The reversals are executed very fluidly in these sequences and it is a real treat to watch.
Unfortunately the animations of the extremely detailed, if not a bit exaggerated, characters are often choppy. There is never a real smooth transition should your character be stopped in mid punch, etc. This does not detract too much and actually worked for me as more of a retro style of gameplay. Most others I know would just call it plain sloppy, so I have included it as one of the game’s negative points.
The main gameplay modes of WWE Legends of Wrestlemania center around the annual titular event. You can choose between ‘Relive’, ‘Redefine’, and ‘Rewrite’ modes. Relive allows you to play a famous Wrestlemania match as the victor, redefine allows you to select a different wrestler in the match, and the rewrite allows you to play the loser in the match in an attempt to change the outcome. You hardcore WWE fans will just eat this up. Personally, I found my best joy to come from the exhibition matches. More so, I enjoyed being able to create a wrestler with my height and weight, then watch him body slam Andre the Giant. As it turns out, my 6′ height and 205 lbs is minuscule compared to all of the wrestlers featured in the title.
As I mentioned before, the wrestlers are detailed but definitely a bit exaggerated in proportions. The crowd is of average detail, their polygons being much more apparent than the wrestlers. Many sport 80’s T-shirts donning various wrestler’s motto’s, logos, etc and there is no shortage of mullets. Sound design during the matches is generally fine and does an adequate job of helping bring the match to life. However the sound design is best in the introduction sequences.
Multiple gameplay modes are available to the multiplayer gamer including Royal Rumbles, Ladder Matches, and a ton more which will certainly appease not only the WWE fan but also the casual player looking for a quick match.
Then comes the anachronistic match-ups. Being that you can pit wrestlers against each other from all of WWE history, you can create a ton of matches that just could never happen. Hogan vs The Rock? Go for it! Care to see ‘Rowdy’ Roddy Piper take on Steve Austin? Done. THQ has done a great job in bringing the nostalgia I felt as a kid back every time I start the game up.
THQ’s WWE Legends of Wrestlemania is a fun wrestler that even a casual gamer can pick up relatively quickly thanks to its streamlined control system. Hardcore fans of WWE games might be put off by this, but the chance to pit so many wrestlers from WWE history against each other should quell their dissension on that point. WWE Legends of Wrestlemania is well worth a place in your game library. So go pick the game up and show Hulk you are not a jabroni, brother.