I'd be lying if I said that I didn't squeal a little bit when I turned on my 360 today and saw that the "WWE Legends of Wrestlemania" demo was available for download. I'd also be lying if I said that I didn't pace back and forth in my living room, counting down each percent increment as the download dragged on. When I was finally able to play through a little bit, I was left with some very strong impressions, for better or for worse.
The nostalgia is strong with this one!
One could argue that the reason this game is being made period is purely to capitalize on nostalgia. The character list is stacked, and for the most part, the look and feel of the game hits the right notes. You even get points for recreating classic moments in historic matches, which will be great for both completists and hardcore fans.
"Smackdown Vs. Raw" This is Not
This is not so much a pro for me personally, but I have heard a lot of people that were huge wrestling game fans back in the day that refuse to play any of the new WWE games out of principle. This is by no means a return to the "No Mercy" days, but the gameplay is different enough that you can't help but give it a chance.
The revamped Manager system works very well
As Hulk Hogan, I thought I had Andre The Giant put away with the big boot and legdrop, only to have Bobby Heenan pull Andre's leg onto the ropes, stopping the three count. I then proceeded to yank "The Brain" over the top rope and brandish my fist as he backed off, only to be attacked from behind by the opportunistic Andre. Granted, this is probably only cool the first time it happens, but it recreated the "big match" vibe perfectly.
The controls won't be for everyone
The idea of this game was to simplify the control scheme and to a degree, it works. However, it's totally different from ANY wrestling game, and believe me, I've played most. The quick time events (press X... NOW) can make for some cool chain wrestling moments and sort of work in finishing sequences, but become frustrating very quickly. Yes it's different, but that might not be a good thing.
The premise can be awkward at times
I understand that they couldn't bring Gorilla Monsoon back from the dead to do commentary, but listening to The King and Good Ol' Jr talking over the Wrestlemania III match between Hogan and Andre felt a bit weird. When it comes to recreating the classic matches, hearing "WWE" instead of "WWF" and seeing a mismatched world title belt will pull the super dorks out of the experience a little.
It feels half done
To be fair, it's a demo. However, this game gives me an "unfinished" vibe that's hard to put my finger on exactly. It could be a virtue of the awkward mix of time periods, or that the gameplay is almost too simple, but I just don't feel like it made it all the way.
Overall I'd have to say I'm a bit disappointed with the "WWE Legends of Wrestlemania" demo, but I'll still be renting it when it comes out. If I were to spring out and buy it on a whim, I think it would be more because the video montages and overall vibe give me a bit of a nerd chub. A lot can happen between a demo release and a full release, so let's hope that THQ is tying up the loose ends in time to make this game deserving of its "Legendary" namesake.