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Platform

Xbox

 

Genre

Fighting

 

Publisher

Acclaim

 

Developer

Acclaim

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q2 2002

 

 

- Some retro-wrestling fun
- Create-a-Legend feature is great
- Good multiplayer game
- Easy to learn control scheme
- Counter moves
- Definite nostalgia factor
- Use your own tunes

 

 

- Animation occasionally jerks
- No camera control
- Button mashing is sure to annoy some
- Nearly all the characters look alike
- Control scheme tough to master
- Repetitious and lackluster audio

 

 

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Legends of Wrestling

Score: 6.8 / 10

 

legends-of-wrestling-1.jpg (35097 bytes)  legends-of-wrestling-2.jpg (31175 bytes)  legends-of-wrestling-3.jpg (36384 bytes)

 

Everyone remember those non-articulated heavy foam-rubber wrestling figures from the mid to late ‘80s? No? For shame! Any prepubescent to mid-teens male during that time should recall the plethora of figures that were short on detail and even shorter on good paint jobs. Just look at the picture in the sidebar of George “The Animal” Steel. Actually, he looks a lot like his video game counterpart in Legends of Wrestling (LoW).

LoW is an interesting concept for old school wrestling fans – a wrestling game that lets you fight against classic wrestlers such as Hulk Hogan, Ted DiBiase, and the Sheik, and at the same time including such ringside characters as Mr. Fuji and Captain Lou Albano. Unfortunately, several flaws bring the whole thing down – not quite for the three count, but at least a two count.

First, the wrestlers look much like the aforementioned non-articulated heavy foam-rubber wrestling figures. This has somehow been spliced with the sensibility of the

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Hulk Hogan Saturday morning cartoon. The results are rather homogenous (and extremely shiny) – everyone looks pretty much the same except for the clothes they’re wearing. Once a match starts, someone just walking into the room won’t be able to tell who’s who (unless they know their wrestling). This can be avoided by making your own wrestler with the great Create-a-Legend feature. Want a 7’0”

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230lb chain mail bikini-clad Amazon to whap the Hulkster upside the head? With the Create-a-Legend feature it’s all possible. Besides outfitting your character with the latest in retro spandex you also get to adjust stats and attributes. (And with the Xbox’s hard drive it’s possible to store 15 of your own Legends.) But all this being said, LoW is a pretty good-looking and smooth-moving game (for the most part).

Amazingly, there is no camera control. You’re stuck with one view for each type of match, which is either too close or too far away (for my tastes at any rate). Occasionally, the camera will switch to a more “dramatic” angle but that’s only for a second. Additionally, there are a few Matrix slow-down moments but they don't happen often.

And speaking of control… it’s mixed. Old school arcade wrestlers will be right at home with the severe knuckle-breaking button mashing involved in a number of situations. For example to escape a pin or get up after being knocked senseless requires a lot of button pressing. This never seems to be a problem when battling the computer AI, however when matched against a human opponent – watch out. This is the kind of game that results in real world fights between brothers and close friends. (Advice: If you’re old enough, have a few beers before playing. Provided you’re not an angry drunk.) The stronger aspect of the control is the ease at which the attack, grapple, and defense moves can be executed. The moves take a little while to get a handle on, but when you do, you’ll be ducking outside the ring at every opportunity to grab a guitar, garbage can, etc. to smash your opponent with. Some of the more advanced moves take longer to master, but this was a wise design decision since it rewards more experienced players. Also a factor is the opportunity to make a counter move in the middle of getting your butt kicked. Once again, these moves are easier to pull off against the computer AI.

So far you’d think LoW is better than average. Besides the standard wrestling conventions – lots of signature moves, unlockable characters, a career mode, tag team matches, etc. – LoW presents an interesting concept and does so in an easy to pick-up and play manner. But what hits LoW in the solar plexus as it’s trying to get up is the audio.

I don’t like to pick on audio because I think that those responsible for game audio have the most underrated job in the industry. But LoW’s audio exploded both my eardrums after it numbed them with its repetitiveness. I figure my ears just wanted out after hearing the same generic grunt/scream for the four-hundredth time in a couple of matches. With all the characters involved it’s amazing that more speech wasn’t thrown in as well. Who can forget Macho Man Randy Savage’s incomprehensible diatribes? He wasn’t the only one guilty of steroid-driven “ohhhh, yeahhhssss" speeches so it’s disappointing to have each wrestler emit the same grunt over and over. I guess my point is, in a character-driven game, they should also have something to say – even four or five catch phrases (in and out of the ring) would have been nice. (Couple these grunts with the only so-so 3D renderings, and the wrestlers might as well have been given generic names.) The music isn’t much better. Instead of shooting for an ‘80s flavor, LoW goes heavy metal in the tradition of today’s WWF. (LoW allows use of music saved to the hard drive. My advice, use it.)

Legends of Wrestling isn’t a truly bad game, but neither is it a truly wonderful game. It’s based on a cool concept but it only seems to go halfway. The characters are visually and aurally generic (including the crowd), and overall the audio is bad. On the flip side, it’s pretty easy to pick up and play against a buddy with wrestlers built from the ground up and while away a few rainy day hours and remember simpler times of non-articulated heavy foam-rubber wrestling figures. A recommended rental.

- Omni
(June 25, 2002)

 

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