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Showdown: Legends of Wrestling
Score: 5.8 / 10
The dust has finally settled and I can
accept that Legends of Wrestling: Showdown didn’t live up to my
Looking back on my expectations, I realize they weren’t that high to
start with, so the fact Showdown couldn’t even meet those is really
saying something. All that I wanted was for Showdown to exceed the
previous titles in the Legends of Wrestling series. (Admittedly, I did
like the first one, mostly because it was so darn nostalgic.) Showdown
does excel in a number of areas but those are mostly cosmetic. Showdown
fails in the gameplay and technical departments.
Foremost, Showdown features a huge roster of old-school wrestlers from
the ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s, including Andre the Giant, Terry Funk, Diamond
Dallas Page, Ultimate
Warrior, Hulk Hogan, Owen Hart, wildcard
Andy Kaufman, “Macho Man” Randy Savage, Jimmy Snuka, Ricky Steamboat,
and Jake “The Snake” Roberts (whom I can’t disassociate from the
documentary, “Beyond the Mat.”) The developers did a great job capturing
likenesses and the plasticized look of the previous titles has been
overhauled. The wrestlers are better than ever and lending a
touch of authenticity to the proceedings is
commentating from Bobby “The Brain” Heenan, Larry Zbysko and Tony
Schiovane, and a tutorial narrated by Bret “The Hitman” Hart.
The play modes are generally standard with Showdown Challenge (“story”
mode), Tournament, Tag Team, and Classic Match.
For fans, Classic Match is likely to receive a lot of attention. During
a Classic Match, you’re thrown into historical wrestling matches and
challenged to change the outcome. A definite highlight for me is the
Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant match at Wrestlemania III.
Showdown Challenge gives you the chance to fight through three decades
of wrestling, starting in the ‘70s. There are five matches in each era,
win them all and get the lamest reward in recent gaming memory. It’s not
much of an incentive, particularly when I word it like that but it seems
a whole lot of nothing for putting up with Showdown’s liabilities.
The liabilities start with collision detection that borders on
horrendous. Maybe the most critical aspect of a wrestling game is making
sure that a thrown punch will make contact with a nearby opponent. With
Showdown it’s not uncommon to smack an opponent from across the ring.
There’s a long list of examples of Showdown’s problems in this regard,
like invisible walls outside the ring that can freeze your wrestler on
the spot – none of them should have passed the QA Testing phase.
Although the animations are mostly great individually, during the course
of a match it’s not uncommon to see animations skip like a record or be
completely mismatched for each wrestler. It’s jarring and almost negates
the upgraded wrestler models (particularly when limbs pass through
Due to the animation and collision issues (particularly when you have
more than two wrestlers in the ring), sometimes the control can be a
chore because you’re timing will be off. Overall, the control scheme is
simple to use – maybe too simple for hardcore wrestling fans. Press a
button and a direction with the stick and execute a move; it’s pretty
easy. And if you don’t have a clue to begin with, there are on-screen
cues (that can be turned off) to make learning moves dead easy.
The audio is hit and miss. The sound effects are right on – loud and
realistic. However, the rest of the audio design is so-so or bad. The
commentating, although informative, gets repetitive in the first five
minutes; signature tunes don’t live up to the expectation created by
Showdown’s opening cinematic.
Though Showdown includes a Create-a-Legend option, it doesn’t feel
robust enough but it’s far from bad. There are lots of options to tweak
(right down to body hair!) for you attempt to create wrestlers that
weren’t included in the game.
Is Showdown: Legends of Wrestling a complete write-off? Not in this
The downsides are hard to ignore (or even tolerate sometimes), but the
fun multiplayer, huge roster of wrestlers, and better-looking graphics
than previous installments, make it a weekend rental for a hit of
wrestling nostalgia, rather than an outright purchase.