WWE Legends of WrestleMania
WrestleMania, the Granddaddy of ‘em all. The Showcase of the Immortals. The Crown Jewel in sports entertainment. There have been many outlandish and fantastical terms attached to the WWE’s annual grapplefest and it would take a peculiar man to claim he’d never seen or heard of the extravagant event. For wrestling fans it’s the pinnacle of the year’s calendar and as Vince McMahon’s baby celebrates its 25th Anniversary, the arrival of THQ’s nostalgia trip through the golden era is perfectly timed.
Based on WrestleMania I through XV, Legends of WrestleMania perfectly encapsulates the over-the-top action and cartoon nature of a time when cheering sweaty men in a ’squared circle’ still had some fun to it. And as a long time WWF and WWE fan myself, the idea of rekindling childhood memories with a list of the businesses best is an exciting one; it’s that adolescent fever that arguably makes LoWM the best wrestling game this generation has seen so far.
Drawing inspiration from what many believe to be the genre’s pinnacle, the N64’s No Mercy, as well as cabinet classics from the early 90s, LoWM is an arcade game by heart. Gone are the complicated move sets and controls seen in the increasingly poor SmackDown vs. Raw series, replaced by a streamlined, user-friendly system that relies entirely on the face buttons and quick-time events. At first it feels strange; it’s slow and repetitive and appears to be lacking any depth, seeming more like an interactive playback than the do-as-you-please environment we expect. There’s no run button, for instance. Sure, you can flick your analogue stick towards the rope in-ring, but move to the outside and you’re strapping on lead boots. Irish whipping opponents can be just as awkward and corner grapples are few and far between. It just feels so… weird.
But stick with it and you’ll soon see the new system click into place with an epic sense of satisfaction, as the pace and atmosphere of matches begins to mirror their real life counterparts. Old school wrestling, especially in the 1980s, was far slower and basic than what the ‘powered up’ athletes of today provide with the limitation in moves in LoWM seemingly feasible – even somewhat realistic -with plenty of scoop slams, backbreakers, big splashes and leg drops padding out the majority of matches.
There’s no stamina bar or little voodoo men littering the screen either, just a momentum bar and a health bar split into three stages, with each providing stronger grapples and attacks that lead to your finisher. It’s simple, clean and works just as it should.
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