Reviewed: April 3, 2009
Released: March 24, 2009
I remember back in the late 80's when I was in high school there was all kinds of publicity for the WWF and “Hulkamania”. I never really bought into the whole thing. About the only interest I had was when John Stossel did an interview on 20/20 with “Dr. D” and ended up with a busted eardrum. It was only due to all the Pay Per View commercials that I even knew about all the other wrestlers that followed. I just didn't care to spend time watching a fake sport and certainly didn't want to pay to see it. But it seems to be a perfect fit for a fun video game.
Now, just in time for WrestleMania's 25th Anniversary spectacular in Houston, we have THQ's WWE Legends of WrestleMania video game. Legends of WrestleMania offers much of the fun and craziness of WWF wrestlers from the past 25 years. Almost. More on that later.
In the opening screen you can jump right in with an Exhibition match. When you first start the game you have only a couple possibilities for match type, but it's easy to start unlocking the other modes. Modes include normal single match, Steel Cage Match, Ladder Match, Hell in a Cell, Ironman Match, Submission Match, Tag Team Match, Triple Threat Match, Battle Royal, Handicap Match, and Royal Rumble.
Game modes offer the opportunity to unlock most everything. Once you have made a wrestler in Create mode, you can enter into the Legend Killer, WrestleMania Tour, and Hall of Fame. Most of these modes include video background on actual matches during WrestleMania events and a little background info. The tour mode offers the most fun, with opportunities to “relive”, “rewrite”, or “redefine” legendary matches from the past 25 years of WrestleMania. Online mode offers a pretty limited lineup with ranked and player matches, and the usual statistics leaderboard. This was probably the only part of Legends of WrestleMania in which I was disappointed. It would have been nice to have leagues with some type of tag team capability.
There are over 40 wrestlers included in Legends of WrestleMania. A sampling of those included: Andre the Giant, Arn Anderson, Bam Bam Bigelow, Big Boss Man, Big John Studd, Bobby Heenan, Bret Hart, British Bulldog, Brutus "The Barber" Beefcake, Dusty Rhodes, Greg "The Hammer" Valentine, "Hacksaw" Jim Duggan, Honky Tonk Man, Hulk Hogan, Jake "The Snake" Roberts, Jimmy Hart, King Kong Bundy,"Million Dollar Man" Ted DiBiase, Mr. Fuji, Mr. Perfect, Nikolai Volkoff, Paul Bearer, "Ravishing" Rick Rude, Ric Flair, "Rowdy" Roddy Piper, Sgt. Slaughter, "Stone Cold" Steve Austin, The Iron Sheik, The Rock, Ultimate Warrior, Undertaker, Yokozuna and others.
As you can see, most of the major guys are there. But there is one huge omission. There is no Randy “Macho Man” Savage. The online forums are buzzing with rumors of some spat between Savage and Vince McMahon. How can you have a Legends of WrestleMania game without the intensity of Macho Man? It also would have been fun to have some classic events with Mr. T and all the other big stars of the time who stepped into the squared circle.
Legends of WrestleMania provides a fun look back at the majority of notable matches. It is too bad that there isn't some type of “career” mode with all the back stage drama. But at least they do allow you to import your characters from Smack Down vs Raw 2009.
Legends of WrestleMania brings some of the best graphics I've seen in the genre. They are on par if not slightly better than Smackdown vs Raw. All the characters are modeled... well I was going to say “close to the actual wrestlers” but that isn't true. All the characters, especially Andre the Giant, Hulk Hogan and The Rock are a lot more muscular and chiseled than they were in real life. Watch the included videos and you'll see. It certainly doesn't take away from the fun though, after all, why would anyone want a wrestling game that was close to being real?
Each wrestler has an opening sequence when they enter the arena. When you create a wrestler you can actually edit together specific music and graphics with certain cameras. It's easy to get really into the fun, but I found that after awhile the openings were repetitive and soon turned them off so I could get straight to the action.
I am still at a loss as to why developers are usually not utilizing full 1080p graphics for the PS3 games. The PS3 is supposed to be a much superior chipset with higher processing power. The blu-ray discs have a lot more space than a standard DVD. Yet we are again stuck with 720p graphics.
Historically speaking, Legends of WrestleMania is a real gift to any WWF fan. The inclusion of some of the horrible entrance songs for many of the included wrestlers brings back a lot of memories, but also makes it quite clear that these guys are not there for their vocal chords. The announcers unfortunately are not much better with repetitive audio clips for each wrestler.
Much of the value in Legends of WrestleMania comes from the classic video footage included in the game. You get highlights from many of the major matches in the history of WrestleMania which are nearly as good as buying a DVD. There is an 18 page manual which is certainly needed if you want to progress beyond the easy skill level. There are a mix of standard and unique moves for each wrestler, which you can also set for your created wrestler.
The PS3 version of Legends of WrestleMania includes support for up to 6 players (2 more than the xbox 360). However it also takes up over 2 gigabytes of space on the hard drive, and it only has 720p graphics. There are 20 trophies up for grabs. Most of them you can easily get by creating a wrestler and going into the Legend Killer and other modes. There are 2 secret trophies as well.
THQ really did a great job with this game. It's great fun in multi-player when you have some friends over. It's also fun just playing the single player mode. The classic video highlights are both interesting and funny. Anyone who is a fan of the old WWF or the classic wrestlers of the 80's and 90's will have a blast with Legends of WrestleMania.