The wrestling genre has been jam packed in recent years with titles ranging from the Legends series, to all of the WWE games, as well as Def Jam Vendetta and Backyard Wrestling. All these games, each with their own unique selling point, try to beat the rest of the pack. Acclaim is at it again with their next wrestling game - Showdown: Legends of Wrestling for the PS2!
Acclaim has been working on their Legends of Wrestling series for quite sometime now, with each edition of the game seems to be getting better, but not by much! The Legends of Wrestling series has always been compared to the Smackdown series, which is like comparing NFL Gameday to Madden if you are a football fan. It’s just a tough comparison and one that is tough to shake off. The Legends of Wrestling series always improves but never enough to catch up! Now in another effort to take the wrestling title Acclaim is back at it again with Showdown: Legends of Wrestling.
The biggest selling factor the series has ever had and still remains to have is an amazing lineup of wrestlers. We are not talking about the best guys now, but instead the best wrestlers to ever hit the mat. The lineup of Showdown: Legends of Wrestling is as solid as ever. With a total of 73 wrestlers, there is no room to complain in this category.
When you hear about this edition of the series on paper you see a game that has a ton of potential. The game modes are plenty with the Quickplay, Versus, Showdown Challenge, and Create a Wrestler. With a long list of game types that include Cage Matches, First Blood, Ladder Matches, Hardcore, Battle Royale, Iron Man, and Best of Three you have plenty of different options to play around with in this game. So on paper the game really does sound like it could be quite the competitor but let’s see how the gameplay holds up shall we.
The face buttons are the main buttons in the game, which include performing strikes, blocks, grapples, and "ready moves". The "ready move" is basically a quick grapple without having to press the grapple move before hand. The controls are fine; they could work great with the game, if the game wasn’t so darn sluggish. The series has been plagued with the same problem year after year and although they made this year a step faster, it is still a step too slow. The timing is so awkward that it will take a long while to get used to it, and the only problem is most of us won’t want to.
What’s kind of amusing about the game is the computer AI. No matter where you are fighting or what type of match you are fighting in, the computer seems to want to fight with the same old normal style. There are other problems that are found in the game where the computer doesn’t respond quite as we have come to expect on this next generation consoles. These computer AI problems do take a lot of the experience out of the game, and stop it from it’s full potential.
What really upsets me more then anything about this game, and most wrestling game’s for that matter, is the story mode in this game. Gosh, when will a wrestling title get a story mode done correctly? In Showdown: Legends of Wrestling we are given the Showdown Challenge that consists of very little story and such a linear design that it’s hard to even become interested by it. This doesn’t help the game’s cause at all as it stops it from having any sort of depth whatsoever.
The one and only positive about the game that I have was the Create a Wrestler feature, which in my eyes was solid from one end to the other. There were plenty of options to take, and for those wrestlers that were not included in the game, you could always create them in this mode.
Overall the gameplay has improved from the last few titles, but if you can’t tell already it still needs some work. With the poor computer AI and sluggish controls the gameplay just hasn’t made it close to its full potential.
In the previous Legends of Wrestling titles we have had games that had much more of a "cartoonish" look then anything. The style had potential but each year the game came out and it didn’t seem to work. Well right when Austin Studios got a hold of the game they went for a much more realistic style. So how does this new style hold up?
Showdown: Legends of Wrestling is quite a few steps ahead of the previous Legends of Wrestling titles but when it all comes down to it that’s still not all that great. The wrestling models have a much more realistic look to them that more accurately depict what the wrestlers really look like in real life. The character models are solid, but where the game really starts to have problems again is in the animation department, which still could use a lot of work. There are plenty of glitches that could be mentioned in this category, but instead of boring you with those I will just let you know that many of them are very noticeable and really hurt the overall flow of the game.
Overall the graphics have been improved, the environments look much better and the character models are solid, the one rather large downside is the poor animation that still needs plenty of work.
Showdown: Legends of Wrestling is a game that has the potential to be fun but with the sluggish controls combined with the poor graphical animation you have a game that loses its fun quite fast. This isn’t to say the game is all that bad; we just have so many other games that offer so much more that it’s really hard to have as much fun with this one as you would want. The gameplay when gotten the hang of can be rewarding but it will take plenty of patience to get to that stage of the game.
Showdown: Legends of Wrestling is a mediocre wrestling title that has a great list of wrestlers, and game modes, but doesn’t have the goods to back it all up. Unless you are sold on the long list of wrestlers I would say this game should only make a rental.
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