With THQ’s Smackdown vs. RAW series starting to feel as old as … a very old thing, it’s about time they took a twist on the genre. Hence this time, instead of the latest hulking sweaty grapplers, you’ll be able to take control of some of your favourite wrestlers from the last 25 years.
The major selling point for Legends of Wrestlemania is obviously the jam packed roster. A whole selection of the biggest, baddest, and greatest wrestlers to ever grace the squared circle are here and ready to bust some heads. Hulk Hogan is undoubtedly the biggest name, but wrestling fans can enjoy the chance to take control of the likes of Bret Hart, Ric Flair, Mr Perfect, and even the oddity that is Koko B. Ware.
That’s not the only major change from the ever popular Smackdown vs. RAW series. Where THQ’s standard wrestling series now packs a quite convoluted control system, making use of various grapples, retaliatory strikes, and general blocking, Legends of Wrestlemania boils it all down into something far simpler.
Everything is now dedicated to the face buttons. Instead of millisecond perfect button prods required to reverse or avoid a powerful oncoming move, the basics are insanely easy to get to grips with. Your choices are essentially whether to aim a strike, attempt a grapple, or block/reverse a move. And outside those, there’s little else to master.
Instead there’s a constant stream of quick time events, requiring you to nudge buttons in the specified order that they appear on screen. Manage to get them all down and your wrestler can start to perform some of the more outlandish moves the sport is famous for.
This twist from the usual system certainly makes things much more palatable for those unwilling to lose huge swathes of time mastering the control-based arts. But it does suffer the inevitable flaw where your skills never feel like they’re truly tested, with only your reaction time truly under scrutiny. Plus, as you stare at the screen focusing on what button to prod, you can easily miss those fantastic moves being displayed for your enjoyment.
It’s a true shame as the rest of the game is polished up to a devilish shine. The roster list is absolutely jam packed, and you can even import characters from Smackdown vs. RAW 2009 if the mood takes you.
Gone is the sometimes awkward career mode, and in its place arrives the chance to take part is some of Wrestlemania’s greatest moments. The Wrestlmania tour gives you the chance to play out some of the most fondly remembered moments, and even change history altogether if the mood takes you. And each of these 19 match-ups comes complete with a 2-minute clip focusing on why these two brawlers are at each others' throats which sets up the atmosphere quite perfectly.
The usual batch of match-ups remain, with Steel Cage matches, Tag-Team bouts, and even Royal Rumbles available to those of you eager to cram a huge amount of baby oil and fake tan onto the screen.
It’s a shame that the simplistic control system lets Legends of Wrestlemania down, as the real meat has been cooked up perfectly. Long-terms fans of the Smackdown vs. RAW series will no doubt be dismayed by the lack of the usual complex control system. And even newcomers will find the lack of depth something that’s bound to help avoid a long-term life.
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