We assume there are two types of people reading this review: those who haven’t kept up with wrestling but are curious if this new game is worth it and those who are big fans of the SmackDown series and are wondering how the controls stack up. Since you’ve skipped ahead and read the score already, we’ll say the answer to both questions is a resounding “Kinda”. Because while WWE Legends of WrestleMania is an interesting companion piece to the SmackDown series, the game only slightly feels like a welcome deviation.
Above: Where are they now? One’s a homophobic nut and the other’s dead
On the surface, Legends is stuffed with all kinds of game features making the overall package very attractive. You’ve got 40 or so old timers to step in the ring with, WrestleMania tour mode (the meat of the game), the Legend Killer mode and uh… 11 exhibition match types. If we sound disappointed it’s because SmackDown raised the bar in terms of depth and features in a 3D wrestling game. We just can’t help but feel Legends is a little lacking.
Above: How it used to be
By design, Legends’ control scheme is simpler than SmackDown’s right-stick grapple-heavy action. The intentional shift towards using all face buttons – seriously, no right-stick or triggers used – was done to entice older players originally put off by SmackDown, and to be honest, the control layout works within the context. Hogan, Piper, Warrior Yokozuna… none of these guys had many moves in their repertoire. Go back and watch some of those “classic” matches and you’ll witness 13 minutes of two guys performing punches and rest holds. And this was all before WWE wrestlers were required to be agile. There was very little imagination in a match that ended with a Hulkster legdrop, just jingoistic ideals.