Tuesday, December 19, 2006

GameFAQs Review - Showdown: Legends Of Wrestling (Xbox)

In the late-90s, Acclaim made some WWF wrestling games. Well-regarded but criticized for their use of button sequences to perform even the simplest of wrestling holds, Acclaim eventually lost the rights to the WWF franchise to THQ. They managed a couple of games based on the cult promotion ECW before that company went under. Now with only one company in the wrestling threshold (WWE), Acclaim had managed to sign some names of the past to use their likeness in a game called Legends of Wrestling. It was a moderately good game, though not without its issues. The same can be said for the second game in the series. So Acclaim decided to bring in a new game engine, sign more legends, and aim to create the ultimate wrestling game for the old-school fan.

The end result isn't what they hoped to achieve... and the final product, while still a decent game, has too many problems going against it that it'll turn off some people. But let's not jump ahead here and get on the review.

GRAPHICS: The graphics in this game lack the cartoonish feel of the previous two games, but aren't even close to being realistic interpretations of the actual wrestlers. Presentation-wise, you have a nice, clean interface, with the menus being presented in the form of billboards and posters - a throwback to the old days, which is a nice touch. There are some clipping issues and some awkwardness issues that'll happen from time to time, but they don't distract much from the gameplay... not that it needs to anyway. All in all, a fair package. 6/10

SOUND: Commentary is provided in this game by the old WCW team of Tony Schiavone, Larry Zybsko, and the weasel himself, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. Admittingly, the commentary featured here is somewhat better than the other flaky attempts, offering bits of historical footnotes concerning wrestlers (without mentioning promotion names), but like all commentaries, eventually gets to the point where it's more tedious than informative. The generic music used for the entrance themes do a fairly good job of emulating the classic themes without downright copying them to the point of getting sued and the sound effects, grunts, and whatnot are crisp and clear. Good stuff, I say. 7/10

GAMEPLAY: Maybe it's just me, but I felt that I could get into this game much more easily than I could. Control in this game tends to be on the finicky side, but is fine overall. The problem is the actual gameplay modes; there aren't that many. You have your usual exhibition mode, Classic Match mode (a mission mode that lets you replay classic wrestling matches), and Showdown mode (essentially a Season-style mode which has a chosen wrestler going through the eras.) They don't offer much variety, but there are the usual match types such as cage matches, turmoil matches, and battle royals. Nothing special. The wrestlers are fine, although some of them tend to use moves that are identifiable with other, more modern ring warriors, but who cares? 7/10

FEATURES: The game is pretty barebones in terms of what it offers - particularly in terms of unlockable content. Acclaim apparently heard the few drones complain about having to earn stuff through the stupid coin system in the last game that they ditched the whole concept on unlockables altogether. On the upside, it means you have 70+ classic grapplers available from the start. But this also means you have nothing to fight for; no hidden features or options will be revealed after completing certain tasks or completing all the Classic Match mission modes. It doesn't really offer much reason to play. 7/10

CHALLENGE: Ideal scenario: when your opponent stuns you, they just taunt for a long time while you recover. That's just one of the things that kills the AI in this game, which is an anomaly in itself. Sometimes it's a slacker while other times it'll be really aggressive. It's hard to tell what personality it'll take in a match and the difficulty setting doesn't seem to affect this in any way. Meh, let's just give it a 5/10 and move on, shall we?

REPLAY VALUE: This usually gets a high score when it comes to a wrestling game, but in the case of Showdown, the lack of extras keeps you from giving this game another try. While wrestling games tend to be great multiplayer games, the bugs might take prevent you and your friends from having an enjoyable experience. 6/10

OVERALL: Showdown: Legends of Wrestling could have been the best of the series given its large roster and some improvement attempts, but the shoddy engine and its many gameplay bugs wrecks the whole thing. While I might take a liking to this game despite the bugs, I've no doubt others won't be as forgiving and will no doubt look to other wrestling games to get their fix. If you really want to recreate the glory days of the 70s or 80s and don't want to take the effort to create the old-school grapplers in other wrestling games, I suggest you rent this first before committing on a purchase and see if the bugs in the game are tolerable. It's not the worst wrestling game ever made, but there are far better wrestling games out there... even on the original X-Box. 5/10

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