Legends of Wrestlemania
Mention professional wrestling video games to any fan of the sport, and you'll likely immediately be struck by the passion for the N64's "WCW vs NWO Revenge" or "WWF No Mercy" - games which, even in their fifth-generation simplicity, were immensely addictive and playable. Filled with dozens of unique moves for each wrestler, it combined that aforementioned simplicity with a strategical element that hardcore fans loved.
Fast-forward ten years and we have "Legends of Wrestlemania" on Xbox 360. And while the graphics have improved, the audio is barely recognisable from the "old days", there is still no game to match the ultimate playability of Revenge or No Mercy.
Let's start with the positives, however, the first being that this game looks better than any other wrestling game ever produced. The characters - as insinuated in the game's title, largely all late 1980s/early 1990s Wrestlemania participants - look incredible, if a little over-muscular; even Andre The Giant in his 1974 prime didn't look anything like this.
The game's audio is also sensational, with each performer having their own unique theme music, which in almost every case was their instantly-recognisable entrance theme from television. None is more memorable, of course, than Hulk Hogan's "Real American" song, although you may enjoy reminiscing with themes that accompany The Ultimate Warrior, Mr Perfect, and Jake "The Snake" Roberts.
Also on the positive side is the unique trawl back into real-life (as much as anything in the wrestling ring can be real-life) matches in the "Relive", "Rewrite", or "Redefine" modes, which allow you to repeat the success of a wrestler in their Wrestlemania match, change that outcome, or add stipulations to the match respectively. Video clips from the actual Wrestlemania matches and build-up are also available here, and are tremendous in getting you in the mood to repeat (or otherwise) those feats.
The main game, however, is of course based on having your own matches inside the ring, which is where things begin to run less smoothly. You have the choice of attacking your opponent with strikes (punches and kicks), a grapple (leading to a move, such as a bodyslam), or some Johnny Saint-esque chain wrestling, but unfortunately, the grappling moves are rather repetitive and the chain wrestling consists of nothing other than having to press a single button faster than your opponent. With the latter, also, your ring positioning is not taken into account, meaning that even if you perform an Irish whip (throw to the ropes) in the corner of the ring, the move always occurs in the centre of the ring. You can, of course, perform your wrestler's special move, but much of the fun of doing it is taken away by having to, once again, press the flashing buttons quicker than your opponent.
Though you may enjoy it if you're more into arcade style matches, another issue is that you don't have to take much damage to be pinned by your opponent. To kick out, you have to hold down a button and release it when the bar hits the blue ridge, but even after only a couple of bodyslams, that's almost impossible to do. In other words, you can forget about the 20-minute epics you had on the N64.
WWE: Legends of Wrestlemania is a fun game for the first few hours that you play it, what with the superb entrances and the ease of its gameplay. However, if you're interested in any sort of strategy in your fight games, you'll simply find this dumbed-down and, in line with the WWE's current policy, more for kids than anyone else.