Showdown Legends Of Wrestling
Sony PlayStation 2
"Legends of Wrestling throws the greatest wrestlers into one game to find out who is the true king of kings. Wrestling superstars, including Hulk Hogan, Bret "Hitman" Hart, and Jerry "The King" Lawler, step back into the ring to deliver more body slams, piledrivers, and powerbombs to the competition. Play as authentic professional wrestlers or create your own legendary fighter, and then travel around the world to battle for wrestling's top titles. Legends of Wrestling also features customizable ring attire and new wrestler entrances!"
Acclaim's Legends Of Wrestling series (beginning in 2001) is not the most popular series of pro wrestling games; not by a long shot. In fact, people generally seem to dislike it as a whole. I must be in the minority because I always kind of liked the games. Were they all-time greats? No, but if you give me a game where I can play as officially licensed versions of Terry Funk, Harley Race, and Abdullah The Butcher (among many other legends) then I'm willing to overlook a lot, I suppose. Hell, this third game in the series that we're looking at today even lets you play as Andy Kauffman! That's a pretty awesome bonus in and of itself.
Since I mentioned the roster, let's start there. That's one thing almost anyone can agree on about this game; it has an amazing roster of wrestling legends! Just to name drop a few more - Andre The Giant, The Ultimate Warrior, The Steiner Brothers, Jimmy Snuka and many, many other grappling greats are featured in this game. Each wrestler also has four different "outfits" to choose from the feature how they looked at different points throughout their career. For example... with Sting, you can choose to be different versions of "Surfer Sting" or "Crow Sting."
The announce team for this game are also legends themselves; the ring announcer (who I've had the pleasure of interviewing) is Gary Michael Cappetta and the commentators are Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko and Bobby "The Brain" Heenan. Sadly, at this point, Heenan was already having issues with his speech. I heard one Youtube reviewer exclaim, "the commentary is terrible and repetitive and what's up with Bobby Heenan? It's like he's mumbling. I can't even understand him most of the time." I assume this reviewer doesn't know the situation because that's not knocking the game, at all. That's just taking a cheap dig at a legend who was trying to participate and enjoy what very likely could have been his last commentary job. Also, speaking of repetitive commentary, I've played enough WWE 2K16 to quote Lawler, Cole, and JBL line for line. Wrestling game commentary gets repetitive if you play them long enough. That's just kind of the way it works.
Some people also say that the game play is pretty glitchy here, once the matches start. Again, I'll reference current WWE games because matches throughout the whole 2K series have always been glitchy, off and on, for me. I remember the online mode for 2K13 used to basically be "broken" due to glitches that players could exploit in order to win matches. In my opinion, the game play here in Showdown may not be the tightest but it's perfectly fine. It works well enough. On a side note, I also really like the "blood effects" in this series of games. It's more "graphic" and realistic than any other series. You can literally watch the blood drip from your wrestlers forehead and it stains the ring mat throughout the entire bout.
There are a few different match types to add some variety besides regular singles and tag matches. There are also table, cage, and ladder matches available to play. I will say that the ladders used in the ladder match and the steel cage itself look insanely tall for some reason. It's a little ridiculous. The cage literally looks like two cages stacked on top of one another. I guess Acclaim maybe figured that would make it even more epic when you climbed to the top and dove off onto your downed opponent, Jimmy Snuka style. To me, though, it just looks dumb and unrealistic to have what must be a 30 foot tall cage.
I like the story mode for this game although it's not very complex. It's cool that you get to have rivalries and wrestle through the decades, starting with the 70s. In another great mode; you can play through classic matches like Hogan vs Andre or Jerry Lawler vs Andy Kauffman.
One final nice touch here is that Acclaim took the time to recreate some of pro wrestling's classic arenas and include them in the game. Arenas like Madison Square Garden, the Mid-South Colusieum, the Omni in Atlanta, San Fransico's Cow Palace and even the Sheik's old stomping grounds; Detroit's Cobo Hall. Lots more great venues from around the world are also included.
Personally, as I've made pretty clear throughout this review, I really like this game and the Legends Of Wrestling series in general even if most people don't. If any of you out there haven't played it; I would suggest checking it out for yourself. Don't let the bad reviews scare you away.
Until next time... keep mashing those buttons!