Legends of Wrestling (LofW) hopes to continue the success on the PS2 that Acclaim wrestling games enjoyed on the PSOne. It hopes to not only create the ultimate "old school" wrestling game, but also break in a brand-new grappling system that is supposed to revolutionize the way we execute our favorite moves.
Presentation/Graphics : 75
We have seen some spectacular video game graphics in the past couple of months and in some ways, I think we have become spoiled in the "eye candy" area. So a game like Legends suffers not because the graphics are bad, but because it can't keep up with the Jones's. LofW in no shape or form has the eye-popping graphics of a Madden or of a Tony Hawk, but the graphics are crisp nonetheless.
The wrestlers have a very clean, solid look to themselves. The muscles are very apparent on the bodies and the faces that wrestling fans have become so accustomed to are easily recognized. There are an assortment of body sizes and costumes that keep the gaming experience interesting.
But the game's main graphical downfall lies within its wrestler modeling. Although the wrestlers are clean and crisp, I think they almost look cartoon-ish. They don't look real, but like action figures.
There are ten different arenas that you can fight in. I didn't see but subtle changes between most of them, but there is a beach resort and a gymnasium, aside from the standard arena, that you can fight in.
Presentation/Audio : 60
There is nothing flashy in the audio department in LofW. My main gripe was with the atmosphere. The crowd was disappointing, even for a game that featured mainly wrestlers from a time period that the crowds were not large or loud in manner. Wrestling is one of the best sports to go and watch in person. Everyone gets involved...but in this game the atmosphere wasn't captured very well. The crowd type could be described as a "Wimbledon tennis" type, it's that quiet. I would even go as far to call the crowd "polite".
I would have rather had a raucous and obnoxious crowd, regardless if the match was good or not, than the generic sound bytes the game spewed out.
Interface/Options : 50
There aren't many gaming options for LofW. There is a career mode, an exhibition mode, and a tournament mode. Within the exhibition mode you can select a versus, tag, or three- or four-way dance. That game modes list is pretty shabby considering that not only does the only other PS2 wrestling competition, WWF Smackdown: Just Bring It!, put it to shame, many of the PSOne offerings do, including many made by Acclaim!
The career mode is a little appealing as you take a wrestler and have him conquer one region of the United States at a time in hopes of becoming the USA champion.
Gameplay : 45
This is the area of the game that I had hoped would be the strongest. The much anticipated new Intermediate Start Position (ISP) was supposed to be the latest innovation from Acclaim. Although I saw the potential for a new, refreshing grappling system, it showed its kinks.
ISP is supposed to start whenever you lock up an opposing wrestler. After you take hold of them, you are supposed to press one of four move buttons that executes a specified move. The point of having the ISP was that instead of having to memorize a lengthy button combination, you could simply use the ISP system.
It sounds like a good enough of an idea, but in sacrificing the complex button combinations the game really slow down in pace. The ISP is not an instantaneous thing...it takes quite a while to execute these moves. As a result, the fluidness and explosion of the moves were nullified.
The ISP system also allows the wrestler to link moves together. This task is predicated on a white line going across a red swoosh. If your opponent hits the X button while the white line is in the small green area of the red swoosh the move will be reversed. I didn't like this because I would many times miss the chance of completing or reversing a move because I was watching the action on the mat and not the little ISP meter.
I think the ISP system has potential, but there are some definite flaws. I think if Acclaim sticks with this system and tweaks it, it will be a nice addition to the wrestling genre.
Aside from the ISP system, the wrestling moves are all pretty much the same. Not only are the moves the same as previous Acclaim wrestling games, but also are virtually the same for each and every wrestler. You won't be seeing too many signature moves from the legends, but rather the same generic sets of moves over and over again. This lack of uniqueness makes the differentiation of wrestlers purely cosmetic. There isn't really a big difference in fighting style or agility or movement between the big and heavy guys and the smaller, quicker guys.
There is a match excitement rating that fills up during a match. The more combinations and variation you use, the higher the rating will be. In the career mode your excitement rating has to be at a certain level for you to move on to the next region.
Since so much of the game focuses around grappling and pins, the new ISP system severely weakens the overall gameplay experience.
Replay Value : 45
The career mode is decent, but aside from that the replay value cupboard is bare. I can't see this being more than a weekend rental. It was cool to go around the country and experience trying to become the country's greatest wrestler, but that wears off quickly. I guess if Smackdown: Just Bring It! is rented out and you desperately want to play a wrestling game, LofW would be an acceptable choice.
Overall : 55
After playing Legends of Wrestling for the PS2 for the past few weeks, I think it falls short of a title belt. While I don't think the game is a complete flop, it's nothing special. That overall mediocrity, rather than poor graphics or shoddy gameplay, is the game's strongest weakness. There is nothing really good about this game except for the ability to wrestle with your favorite old-timers, as boring as that experience may be. In closing, the one thing I guess LofW has going for it is that it has the best wrestler of all-time, Bret "The Hitman" Hart in it.