Review by cyberarian

Reviewed: 02/18/03 | Updated: 02/18/03

Very flawed, but also progressive and where's the aeroplane (airplane) spin, toughguy?

Because I grew up watching many of the characters in Legends of Wrestling II on TV, I was really looking forward to this game. And, although I'm not altogether disappointed, I feel so much more could have been done with a wrestling title based around the so-called ''TV era''.

Not having played Legends of Wrestling, the original, I have no basis of comparison. But I do own WWE Raw on Xbox. Visually, Legends II cannot really stand up to Raw. Although I quite like the exaggerated plastic action figure look of the wrestlers, the animation leaves a lot to be desired. The most aesthetically pleasing aspect of a wrestling game comes from seeing the execution of the holds and power moves in detail and with Legends, much of this is missed because the actors move a bit too fast. This, by way of comparison, is one of the best attributes of RAW in which most of the moves are applied gracefully, with enough time to see what is going on.

Other reviewers have criticised the inappropriate move sets of many of the legends. While I do think that your typical seventies or eighties wrestling match probably had more classic armdrag takedowns, front facelock holds and Indian death locks with probably not so many Stone Cold Stunners, Sky High powerbombs, Rock Bottoms, leaping reverse crescent kicks and other more contemporary techniques, there were a few pleasant surprises.

An example and one of my own favorites as a kid was Greg ''the hammer'' Valentine. It was pleasing to see that he not only had the figure four leglock, but also the trademark ''hammer'' elbow drop that he was equally well known for. Unfortunately, the programmers could have made a far more authentic Valentine with the existing move set but didn't. The shoulder breaker, inverted atomic drop, reverse chin lock, classic atomic drop, school boy takedown and other moves that older wrestling fans would definitely have recognised were substituted for the fall-away-slam (?), a front face powerbomb (!?) and a victory roll (!!?) to name a few.

This is typical of the selection and is quite frustrating and is evidence, I suspect, of poor research or lazy programming.

And how (!?) can a game carry the title Legends of Wrestling without the aeroplane (airplane) spin as a technique. The designers of a game that supposedly simulates the TV era of wrestling should have made it their first consideration. Not ''ok let's look at the market considerations for this game as a first step'', but ''ok, lets make it clear that whatever we do, the aeroplane spin is going to get into the game.''

In short, and if these design decisions were premeditated in order to sell to the younger wrestling fans, the game attempts to compete with the WWE offerings and will fail. When will people realise that if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one? It would have been far better and ultimately more profitable for the game creators to produce a tight and authentic seventies-eighties era wrestling game, in which case it would have been a title in its own sub-genre.

Having said this, I do quite like the grappling engine and the inclusion of combo's was a good move. This particular system of gameplay is progressive, but the aesthetics will need a lot of work. The career mode is entertaining and could also be enhanced with behind the scene chicanery, locker room politics, possibly making a future release a combined simulation/action game.

Generally, I think that wrestling games are usually only played by people that like pro wrestling. In this case the above is true and add a severe case of nostalgia attack when seeing the title on the shelf of the store ( that's why I bought it ). If you're not really cognizant of pre-nineties wrestling then I believe you will be disappointed with this game.

It was nice, however, that the UK/European version of the game included a few superstars from that part of the world, such as ''Big Daddy'' Shirley Crabtree and Mike McManus.

Rating:   3.5 - Good

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