Look to the past for the future of wrestling games... or something like that.
I have been a wrestling fan as long as I can remember. My grandfather often took me to the wrasslin matches at Cobo hall in Detroit. Legends, like Bobo Brazil, The original Sheik, and the late great manager The Grand Wizard were my heros growing up. But it really wasn't till Hulk Hogan and MR T wrestled Rowdy Roddy Piper and Paul Mr Wonderful Orndorff at the world's most famous arena (Madison Square Garden) at the very first Wrestlemania I knew I was hooked. The wrestlers back then were larger then life, and that was what appealed to me.
Acclaim has a long history with wrestling games. In fact it owned the WWF license for videogames until THQ won the rights from them 3 years ago. Acclaim decided to buy in and cash in the popularity of the now defunct Extreme Championship Wrestling. When ECW declared bankruptcy in the beginning months of 2001, it effectively left Acclaim with out a wrestling license. Well the brain trust at Acclaim made the decision to create a game based on the heroes and legends of the past. It was a unique concept and for some the thought of playing a videogame that stars the legends that they grew up watching in the 70s and 80s interested them considerably.
When Acclaim finally released the Playstation 2 version of Legends of Wrestling the fan response was somewhat mixed. It seemed obvious that the game was rushed to meet the Christmas season and to be perfectly honest the game could have used a few more months of development time. In some regards (such as graphics), Acclaim stumbled a bit. Many thought, (myself included) that the game play was much too slow when compared to the THQ WWF wrestling titles that have been released lately.
What Legends of Wrestling did do was create a unique and different experience and a solid base to form their future wrestling titles around. So here we are a few months later and Acclaim has decided to release Legends of Wrestling for the Xbox. Have they learned from the shortcomings that plagued the PS2 version?
As you can plainly see in the screenshots we provided here, Acclaim has cleaned up the game nicely. The character models have a nice shiny plastic look to them. Which is exactly the type of look that Acclaim set out to capture. The look is based on the old WWF figures that LJN released years ago. Acclaim has also implemented shadows and lighting effects that were absent from the PS2 version. All in all, the graphics look very nice. In the Xbox version of the game, Acclaim has added real hair and cloth dynamics to the wrestlers and the entrance gear as well as the mat apron.
While gamers have gotten used to the lightning fast gameplay of recent titles such as the Smackdown series, Acclaim's Legends of Wrestling had a more plodding feel on the PS2. This appears to be addressed with the Xbox version of the game. The flow of the match has also been improved all the while keeping the innovative control system from the PS2 version. Acclaim also improved the gameplay overall with improvements in making it easier for players to perform turnbuckle moves, tagging in your partner and climbing in and out of the ring.
Legends of Wrestling features a huge roster of characters from the past. And most if not all of the "old time" favorites are in the game. Wrestlers like, Hulk Hogan, The Sheik, Superstar Billy Graham, Harley Race, Tito Santana, Rick Martel, and current WWF superstar Rob Van Dam. Acclaim will utilize the same roster from the PS2 version so don't expect any new additions or surprises.
The Xbox doesn't have a wealth of grappling games, so Legends of Wrestling should satisfy many gamers taste for the "squared circle." If the game is significantly improved over the PS2 version, this could be the wrestling game to own for the Xbox.
Secretly wears Hulk Hogan pajamas.