System: Playstation 2
Publisher & Developer: Acclaim
Released: December 2001
Genre: Pro Wrestling
Capabilities: Memory Card, Vibration Function, Multi-Tap Compatible
Review Written: January 14, 2002
Acclaim made a lot of money making games for the WWF when they had the license to make them for over ten years. But then the WWF ditched them for THQ in 1999, and since at the time Electronic Arts had the WCW license, the only place for Acclaim to go was ECW. They made two not so great games under the ECW moniker, and then the ECW filed for bankruptcy and went out of business. So with no place else to go, you would think Acclaim would give up on wrestling games, right? Wrong, they did the next best thing, they assembled a cast of all our old favorites from the 1970's, 80's, and 90's, and made a game called Legends of Wrestling. They also made a wise move by ditching the old Warzone engine, and finally came up with a new one. Will all of Acclaims efforts pay off? Lets get onto the review and find out.
Big Kudos for Acclaim for the 30+ legends they managed to add in the game. Most of the big names we remember from the past are here like Jimmy Superfly Snuka, King Kong Bundy, Bret Hitman Hart, the Road Warriors, and one of the biggest legends of Pro Wrestling ever, Hulk Hogan. Also wrestlers that have passed away find new life in Legends of Wrestling like Hot Stuff Eddie Gilbert, Brian Pillman, and the Von Erich family. A couple of recent wrestlers that are in the game are Sabu and Rob Van Dam. I find RVDs inclusion in the game very surprising considering he was in the WWF for several months when this game was released. To nitpick a little, there are some wrestlers in here I am very surprised that didnt make the cut like Macho Man Randy Savage, but I can live without him.
The visuals in LoW are the highlight in the game, and they just simply blew me away. The characters just look great, to start off with. The wrestler models are a bit different from the ones seen in Acclaims previous titles. They got a bit of a more cartoon-ish look to them, but in a way they still manage to come off a bit on the realistic side. Like the game will exaggerate certain features of a wrestler, much like a caricature where certain muscles of a wrestlers body will stick out. For example, Hulk Hogan has a huge chest, and King Kong Bundy has a humongous stomach. For the most part, a lot of the wrestlers look like there real life replicas, and the game has nice card pin ups of them during load times, which are a bit on the long side, by the way. The arenas in the game got a great feel to them. They actually look like arenas that the legends we all knew wrestled in. They are small, compact, run down looking bingo halls.
The graphics in the game are a great showing, but not without its flaws. The entrances in the game are one thing that disappointed me, Acclaims old titles were known to have some of the best entrances ever where the wrestlers would go through there taunts and walk down to the ring exactly the way they did on television. Now you just see a several second clip of them walking, and youll be lucky to see them do a taunt. And then theres some annoying guy announcing the wrestlers name and stats, much like the way they did in ECW matches, but at a much more slower pace. The loading times will start to get on your nerve as well if you want to see the whole entrances. First, you have a 10 to 15 second loading time to see the wrestlers walk down the aisle, then another 10 to 15 second loading time to hear the guy announce the wrestlers stats, then a thirds 10 to 15 second loading time to actually start the match. One last thing, instant replays happen out of nowhere, and seem very Matrix like by there presentation. Now this may sound good in writing, but it just doesnt play out as it should on paper, and gets annoying right away.
Since Acclaim doesnt have any licensing privileges, for wrestlers theme music they just had to do there best in there own studios to come up with there own tunes. And I think they did a good job at it. Some of the themes sound a lot like the wrestlers actual entrance music. Like Rob Van Dams old ECW theme sounds nearly identical, and the Dynamite Kids British theme sounds almost like the one he had. And Acclaim matched music types from the region the wrestlers came from, like all the wrestlers from Japan will have oriental like music, and all the wrestlers from the south have more of a country like tune to them. So what Acclaim gave us gets the job just fine. Jimmy Hart and Lou Albano appear after matches in Career mode to give you advice with actual voice acting from them, but those are the only actual voices you get in the game. I was amazed that there was no commentary featured in this game like Acclaims past titles showcased, but after listening to the commentary in Smackdown: JBI, Im not complaining. The sound effects for the game are the same as most other wrestling games out there with all the stomps, slams, and smacks sounding the way you expect them to.
At last, Acclaim has ditched the control scheme it used for its past four wrestling games. In LoW a brand new control set up is introduced. The controls are a lot like the most similar to the ones found in WCW Mayhem and Backstage Assault, but runs at a slower pace. You do most of your standard moves in here by setting them up with grapples, and you can run and do various clotheslines and dropkicks. However, I was very surprised with the total lack of moves for all the wrestlers. It appears all the wrestlers only have the minimal amount of moves to do, like it seems all I can do is about only three moves out of a grapple. The game does offer a new countering system, where in a moment right before a wrestler delivers a maneuver, you see a red meter and an arrow that runs across it pretty fast, you want to hit the X button at the precise moment to get the arrow to stop in the little green section so you can pull off a counter. This is an interesting new feature that Acclaim decided to add, and I think it works well.
For game modes, you dont have as many as you think you would. When you take a look at Acclaims last few wrestling titles, you saw dozens upon dozens of ways to play. In this game, you dont even have ten modes available to you. There is exhibition mode where you have your basic match ups like single, tag team, triple threat, and four way dance. Then there is tournament mode, which is your usual King of the Ring type of mode. There is Arena mode, but all that there is to that is that you can pick one of several arenas to fight in. Acclaims great Career mode is back, but designed a lot differently. Instead of a monthly calendar, we now have a map of the United States, and we pick one of several territories to wrestle in. I really like how you pick to wrestle in the Midwest, Northeast, and so on because it was pretty much how the Indies worked in the United States several decades ago. Any ways, the goal is to capture all titles of the territories and unify them as one national title.
The Create-a-Wrestler mode is back, and just like one of the many other things Acclaim did great in its previous wrestling games, they ruin it in this title. Instead of the great depth and variety of items that Acclaim pioneered with its Create-a-Wrestler mode, they severely limited the amount of things to tinker with in this game. Like, for example, you only have one face for all your created wrestlers. Thats right, you cant even customize the eyes, nose, or mouth like you could before in Acclaims other wrestling games. There are a couple of nifty features in this option, like if you name a certain created wrestler by a famous legend that is not in the game, like Ric Flair for example, the announcer will automatically announce his full name instead of Player 1." So I suggest that you dont even bother creating a wrestler, because theres plenty of great legends here to choose from.
The game starts you off with about 20 wrestlers to choose from right from the start, and with another dozen or so to be unlocked by beating career mode and performing other various tasks in the game. So youll be playing for a while trying to get everyone unlocked. Its usually fun to create your own wrestler, but not in this game. Also, up to four people can play this game, but I dont see the point with the lack of multi player modes. Where are the battle royals, hardcore matches, etc. Theyre not in here.
+: Great wrestler models, outstanding roster of legends, innovative new countering system
-: long load times, horrible create-a-wrestler, very few modes of play
The Final Ratings Rundown
Game play: 6.0
Replay Value: 4.2
Rounded to fit GameFAQs Score: 6
Legends of Wrestling is a significant improvement over Acclaims past efforts. The main complaint about Acclaims past titles was over the control system, which was improved greatly in LoW. Though everything Acclaim did right in its past games, they did wrong in this release by limiting the Create-a-Wrestler, cutting back the amount of modes, and having horrible entrances. And it is obvious that Acclaim did all this so they can have something major to brag about being included in a foreseeable sequel. This game does have some major ups and downs going for it, and I recommend that you rent it before deciding weather or not to purchase it.
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