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In several weeks, WrestleMania 25 will erupt from Houston, Texas. We know what you’re probably thinking: they have twenty-five WrestleManias? And how did I get so damn old? In the past quarter-century, the WWE has grown from a small-ish organization with national mainstream appeal to a full-blown media spectacle. But if you’re one of the many fans who’ve grown out of sports entertainment but recall vividly your memories of the Hulkster, Ultimate Warrior and Bret Hart, then WWE Legends of WrestleMania is for you.
Just a few months ago we had the pleasure to sample Legends but didn’t get a full-blown taste. But now, with the full version of the game in our possession, we’re ready to divulge on the new Legend Killer mode. First, let’s give you a quick reminder on gameplay.
Legends takes a simplified approach to the control scheme, eschewing much of SmackDown vs Raw’s right-analog stick based grappling. Instead, the controls are mapped to the face buttons. On the Xbox 360, the controls are: X for Strikes, Y for Defense (block, reversals), A grapples and B is an all-purpose move (exit ring, turnbuckle, pin). Matches retain the quickness of SmackDown! titles, but slow down the action. We don’t remember Ric Flair and Ravishing Rick Rude performing huracanranas or moonsaults, as many matches retain the punch/bodyslam pacing of the 80s and early 90s.
Additionally, some grapples become about chain-linking quicktime events, where the wrestler who inputs the button attack on screen first will end up executing or reversing the move being performed. So say Hacksaw Jim Duggan and Bam Bam Bigelow lock up, if the B icon lights up, you’ll have to press it to get Bigelow into a headlock. Next, you may have to hit the Y button in order to give Bam Bam a vicious punch to the face. Or maybe your opponent hits Y first and Bam Bam reverses the headlock into a takedown. These quicktime grapple events break up the familiar strike/grapple formula and can make for some interesting encounters.
We also went over the WrestleMania tour mode in our last preview. Essentially, the mode is the beef of the game and is split into three sub-modes: Relive, Rewrite and Redefine. Each mode enables you to replay classic WM matches, but with different parameters. Relive puts you in the boots of the winner of the old match and you need to just… win again. Rewrite tasks you as the loser of the classic bout and you’re attempting to rewrite history. And Redefine places a stipulation on a classic match, like making the Andre vs Big John Studd match at WrestleMania 1 take place inside a Hell in the Cell.