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Showdown: Legends of Wrestling

Miami Vice

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Showdown: Legends of Wrestling

In the years since its debut, Acclaim's Legends of Wrestling series hasn't exactly had a storied history. As Acclaim's first wrestling title since the ending of the company's ECW wrestling license, the first Legends of Wrestling was a conceptually neat game that was plagued with major gameplay problems. The sequel that followed it managed to correct some flaws, though, on the whole, the game was still highly problematic. For the third installment of the series--titled Showdown: Legends of Wrestling--Acclaim has shifted development duties to its Austin-based studio, and the result is a game that brings more to the table in terms of wrestlers, gameplay mechanics, and features. Unfortunately, the game still suffers from a number of pacing and polish issues that prevent Showdown from being anything more than a marginal improvement, at best.

Momentum shifts during a match are handled by a momentum meter that sits beneath your wrestler's health meter. This meter fills up when you perform successful attacks and taunts against your opponent, and it's depleted when you're getting your ass handed to you. For the most part, this meter works well, because when it is up, it becomes easier for you to reverse attacks, and it helps build you toward performing your wrestler's signature finisher. The only quirk about it is that the moves that help build your meter don't always make sense. You tend to get the most bang for your buck when you simply hammer on the strike button. Big-time slams and suplexes actually only fill your bar about half as much as a simple punch or stomp. This essentially makes it possible for you or your opponent to simply punch your meter all the way up if you're in a stunned state for long enough.

Another problem with the action is that your opponent's artificial intelligence is generally a bit on the lackluster side. During basic single matches--played without any sorts of gimmicks--your opponent will generally stay on the proper course. When you get into situations like a tag team match or, say, a cage match, things tend to break down a bit. AI-controlled players are fine at calling in their tag partners for help (almost a little too good at it), but when they're being pinned or are in an otherwise dire situation, partners suddenly tend to become stone statues, seemingly unable or unwilling to move for help. The same goes for your own partner in the reverse situation. Cage matches and ladder matches are also somewhat problematic. For example, when in a cage match, you can either climb up the side of the cage or go out the door. However, you will quite literally never make it out either way unless your opponent's health has been completely depleted and you've managed to stun him for the full extent of the game's stun meter. Apparently, your opponent is always well aware of this, because he will never, ever try to escape until you're completely worn down, and even then he'll be a little spotty about trying to get out. As it is, the game is pretty easy, even on the hardest difficulty level, so it's very, very hard to lose a gimmick match against the computer.

In terms of play modes, Showdown features the basic quick play and match play modes, along with brand-new story and classic match modes. The story mode, titled "showdown challenge," isn't especially deep. Basically, you select your grappler and work your way through the three most recent eras of wrestling--the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Each era features five matches, with a title match at the end. Once all the eras are cleared, you fight Hulk Hogan, and beating him earns you the coveted "Legends of Wrestling" title. Unfortunately, that's about all there is to it. None of the titles are actually tangible outside of the story mode, and the few scant bits of story thrown in between matches are barely noticeable. All told, it will also only take you a couple of hours of play time to blast through the whole story mode.

Audio is another category where Showdown doesn't especially excel. In-game commentary is provided by the classic WCW trio of Tony Schiovane, Bobby "The Brain" Heenan, and Larry Zbysko. As with most wrestling game commentary, the actual topicality of their commentary is very general, so as to avoid too many gaffes. You'll get some repetitive history on the grapplers in the ring and occasional bouts of play-by-play, but all of it is so utterly uninteresting and halfheartedly delivered that it just doesn't matter. Aside from a few exceptions, wrestler entrances consist of mostly generic interpretations of classic theme songs, none of which are all that great. In the ring, the game does sound good, though. The slams to the mat, the sounds of fists hitting flesh, and the other noises akin to a professional wrestling match are nicely done and add to the authenticity of the whole experience. All told, however, the game just doesn't have much more than sound effects going for it audibly.

In the end, Showdown: Legends of Wrestling is a game that simply cannot shake off the problems of its predecessors. Everything positive that has been added to the game doesn't do anything to counteract the mechanical artificial intelligence and visual problems that plague much of it. Still, despite all of these problems, this is definitely the most cohesive game that the Legends of Wrestling series has ever managed to produce, and if you had any affection for the previous games, or even just the concept, the game is worth renting just to play a few classic bouts with some of wrestling's greatest names. Outside of a rental, however, Showdown just doesn't have enough going for it to compete with the big boys of the wrestling game genre.

Final Scores

Gameplay: 6

Graphics: 7

Sound: 6

Value: 6

Tilt: 7

Source: gamespot.com

I'm going to rent this both because I liked the first edition and because I think this one will be even better. Plus, I must defeat The Ultimate Warrior at The SkyDome with The Hulkster, I must!

Note: This game is available on PS2, XBOX and Gamecube

Your thoughts?

Edited by Miami Vice
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I saw it today, £25 on X-Box which is a shitting wonderful price. Next time I have £50, i'm off up to the shop to get that and Ninja Gaiden (Both £25 each). I need to trade in some games too, i'll go up to Gamestation probably next weekend and do it, see whether I can get them there.

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I'll probaby get LOW Showdown eventually. I liked the previous two, I've played LoW2 alot recently. I can have some pretty good matches on it, I find the matches more enjoyable than Smackdown HTCP.

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Yeah, I may get this..........

*Realises he has no job, and that the council doesn't pay him to go to college anymore. Breaks down in tears*

Sooner or later, i'll play this, hopefully when the price has crashed like what has happened with the other two. I enjoyed the expanded Tag Team options the LOW2 had such as 4 vs. 4, 2 vs. 2 vs. 2, and 2 vs. 2 vs. 2 vs. 2 (as well as the elimination variants of all of them) that are stupidly left off the Smackdown games. My only problem was it got a little boring after a few weeks. Anyway, expanded matches, more wrestlers makes me a happy bunny- i'll pick it up sooner or later.

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Guest Mr McFarlane

Bah, I'd much rather demolish him in a handicap death match.....

Warrior vs. Cactus Jack & Terry Funk

Cactus Jack, Terry Funk and Vader v Warrior in a No rope Barbed Wire C4 Lighttube Cactus Jello Shooter Deathmatch

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I just rented this game and I have to say it's a bust. I've had a total of 3 matches and am already board of it. You can only do 8 grapple moves with you wrestler and it takes several of each to beat your opponenet. Add to that I've had 3 cage matches in a row and I've already grown tired of it.

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Guest homerjfry

Just rented it as well. Take me a while to get used to the grappling system since this is the first time I am playing the series. I got my asskicked by Eddie Guerrero (not a bad thing), and I will give it a few more plays to see how it is.

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Rented the game for PS2. It was my first time with the series, I always overlooked it as crap. I was wrong. The third installment was fun, better then Wrestlemania X8, but so is any other game :P I give it a 7.5/10

Edited by Laice_
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Just checked out some videos on IGN and it looks pretty damn good, and super holy shit I swear that is Mike Tenay and Tony Schivone commentating, if so that would make it even better. It looks a little unrealistic in parts and fast also, but that's fine.

On the UK Game website it says July 2nd realese, is that true? because they normally talk shit and say that when the game is already out. I'll rent it from Blockbuster once its in there thats for sure. Shit, even Sting is in it. If this game has good gameplay it will be bloody awesome. Also please let the stinger splash be in this game, I swear no wrestling game has that move.

Edited by JohnnyPerfect
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