Thursday, February 01, 2007

July 08, 2004

My Showdown: with Legends of Wrestling

I read a lot about this game during it's development and it sounded good. In fact the more they released and the more I read the better it sounded and the more excited I was. The zero came upon and I couldn't wait so I preorded it and the wait began. What did I get you might ask? I got what seemed to me to be a halfway decent early beta test release of a game, not a complete release and certainly not worthy of the $50 I dropped on the title.

I'm not saying the game is without merit, there is much good to be found here, for starters a Huge roster 73 to be exact. Sadly all 73 are available right out of the box, as are 4 separate outfits for each. Let me explain why that is a sad thing, If everything is there for the getting right off the bat what is the motivation for the single player campaign? They dropped the ball big time on this one, they could easily have left a name or 5 off of the list when releasing the game and then had them as ?unlockables? it's just a very nice touch that was painful to not see included.

This brings me to the Story or Career mode. A very nice idea having it span the 70's, 80's, and eventually the 90's eras of wrestling, and then finally facing off against the all time great (This is the tops? Really) Hulk Hogan. The mini videos displayed when moving from one era to the next are very nicely done and they do a good job to show how the business changed as time went on. However the mode consists of 4 or 5 matches and then a ?title? match before moving onto the next era. In between some of the matches the ?story? part of the mode comes into play, it does this via a magazine opening up to a page with a picture and some moving text that usually says something like ?Curt Hennig has a shot at the champion, he should make the most of this opportunity? or something very generic and very dry like that, it's a shame and extremely disappointing Why not include some interview type segments, or some story lines, or even some logic in the placing of ?specialty? matches, I mean I really should not be involved in a Table match before the 90's. One other small touch that is missing from this mode is the belts, you win them at the end of every era but you don't wear them to the ring, How on earth can you produce a game championing the wrestling aspect of the wrestling business and not have visible belts? All in all the concept of ?eras? is a very good idea that I really do like, unfortunately the entire mode needs tweaking to make it a viable single player campaign.

The match types, This is a shining moment, from the ladder matches to table matches to hardcore, 2/3 way dance, battle royal, first blood, steel cage, iron man, ETC... everything is there (with of course the exception of the HitC and Elimination Chamber that are WWE specific and I'm sure trademarked), everything is enjoyable and playable, in fact the cage match was a lot more enjoyable for me than the Smackdown normal cage matches wich can be more frustrating than entertaining. Like I say this is a shining moment for a middle of the road game.

CAL (Create A Legend) Horrible, no let me rephrase that, Horrible for the most part with a few signs of goodness. Let me get this straight, 1 face, 6 hair styles, and nine head shapes for the men CALs (if those numbers are off it's only by 1 or so either way)? Let me get further in, no changing colors on almost all items of clothing, NO using your own ripped music as an entrance theme for your CAL??? Wow is this a complete and total step down from creation modes in other Wrestling games. About all that they did do right in this section was the profile area, there are prerecorded names/nicknames and even hometowns that you can set and actually have your wrestler audibly announced into the ring that is a nice fun touch (it may be spelled wrong but Rick Flair sounds exactly like Ric Flair when the announcer says it, thumbs up on the loopholes).

Ok onto the gameplay. The controls seem sluggish, but the gameplay is slower paced and you can easily adjust to the sluggishness for the most part although there will be times when a reversal would be nice but the timing just doesn't want to cooperate. Collision detection and sycing between the wrestlers is another story, it is Very sketchy and seems only halfway done. You can be dropkicked in the middle of the ring, suddenly you are laying flat on your back outside of the ring and as you get up you move back into the middle of the ring, thats slightly annoying. You about being beaten up by a ghost? I'll use the triple german suplex as an example since almost every time I used it I ran into this glitch. My wrestling giving the move would grab his opponent from behind and then go into the rolling German suplexes, his opponent would stand still as my wrestler roll around on the ground for a second, then as the wrester giving the move is standing up to deliver the second of the three suplexes finally the one receiving starts flying around, the timing just doesn't sync up well at all and it really detaches you from the match, unless the intent there was to have you pretend that you were getting an assist from the invisible wrestler (of WCW fame).

So in the end,

the game is very very pretty, the graphics are top notch, character design is the best I've seen really especially considering these are not scanned in faces but rather drawn. The Arenas help greatly with the nostalgia. The wrestler selection is nearly as good as it can currently get. Match types are fun and implemented well. In a 2-4 player environment this game would be great fun. It just was not worth the cash I dropped on it new.

My end result: A trip to Game Stop, a trade in, I received a whopping 20 dollars credit less than 2 weeks after the $50 I paid. I got a used copy of Morrowind and Max Payne 1, and I put some money down on a pre order for Fable which earned me a nice little sample DVD with a couple demos for different things on it.

My suggestion, Rent the game before buying, wait another month or so before buying either way as I'm sure it will be greatly discounted new, and dirt cheap used.

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