Showdown Legends of Wrestling

Acclaim has been making wrestling games for years now, and at one point they were on top of the world with their WWF War Zone and WWF Attitude games. However, things started to go downhill for them. Acclaim lost the licenses to make WWE video games to THQ, a company that went on to publish some of the best wrestling games ever created. Without the WWE franchise to use anymore, Acclaim picked up the license to make ECW games but failed to change the old formula they had used in War Zone and Attitude and the game was scored poorly by a lot of reviewers and fans of the genre were generally disappointed. After making another unsuccessful ECW game Acclaim lost the rights to make games for the company because they were bought out by the WWE.

This left Acclaim without a wrestling franchise, so they went back to the drawling board, since the WWE also bought out WCW; there was no major company for Acclaim to make games for. That brings us to the Legends of Wrestling series that Acclaim had come up with. Legends of Wrestling is a great concept and could easily become as legendary as the wrestlers in the game, but due to broken gameplay and little to no innovation the series fails to reach it’s potential. After the two past failures, Acclaim brings us Showdown, the third game in the Legends of Wrestling series. Will the third time be the charm for Acclaim?

GAMEPLAY
The concept of Legends of Wrestling sounds great on paper, how could it not a roster full of legendary wrestlers is enough to get any wrestling fan excited. Sadly this concept has been executed poorly with each incarnation of the series and with the second game showing a lot of improvement over the first. I figured Showdown would finally nail that potential that the series has had since day one, but alas I was wrong. Showdown not only fails to be as good as it could be it actually takes a step backwards. LoW2 had an above average story mode for a wrestling game, you traveled the world and gained titles to unite them into one and there was actually a decent story behind all of it. In Showdown there is “Showdown Challenge” which spans three decades (70’s, 80’s, and 90’s) in each decade you fight 5 wrestlers from that decade and before each match you get a little text message and some pictures on the screen. The text usually looks something like this “Can _______ beat ______ in (insert random match type?) And to top it off when you do beat “Showdown Challenge all you get is a lame photo of Hulk Hogan that says “Congratulations!”.

Acclaim was kind enough to put in new “Ready-To-Brawl” control scheme in the game and wow does it…….suck! Acclaim was obviously trying to make this new control scheme similar to AKI’s which is possibly the best grappling system ever, but Acclaim manages to screw this up and instead of a decent knock off of the great AKI grappling system you get a watered down and broken knock off of AKI’s grappling system. The button placement is a bit awkward at first, but most will be able to adapt to it and the graphical hiccups at times cause your attacks to either miss or hit your opponent from a good distance away.
Showdown offers the now standard match types such as ladder, table, cage, single, tag, among others. I am still waiting for a wrestling game that uses the awesome triple cage that WCW used, but that doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon. Just like the Legends of Wrestling series won’t live up to its potential anytime soon if ever.

There are a few things I did like about Showdown though one of them is the huge roster of over 70 legendary superstars including some childhood favorites such as Hulk Hogan, Sting, Ultimate Warrior, DDP, and the late great “Mr. Perfect” Curt Hennig. Having all these legends together in one game opens up the possibility of having dream matches and reliving some wrestling’s more classic feuds. As a mater of fact there is a mode called “Classic Matches” which puts you into some of the classic feuds including, Hulk Hogan vs. Andre the Giant, Bret Hart vs. Owen Hart, and Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat. This is great and all until you realize you are still playing Showdown and that you have been thrown into the middle of the match instead of starting from, well the start. Wrestling fans will still get a nice kick of nostalgia when playing through these classic feuds, but that isn’t enough to call this game good.


GRAPHICS
The graphics in Showdown are not horrible, but they certainly aren’t good. The character models look decent, but they do look like they are bigger then there real life counterparts.
Showdown also features a bunch of fantasy and real life arenas that look rather good. Some of these arenas include Madison Square Garden, Tokyo Dome, and The Legends Arena. All of the arenas look different from each other and offer up a nice variety for the background, but they don’t do anything to affect the gameplay and you can’t even go backstage!
Unfortunately Showdown is also plagued with some graphical glitches such as attacks hitting late or from long distance, falling through the ring, and having both wrestlers freeze in the ring mid-match. Those are only a few of the glitches I encountered in the game.

SOUND
Each wrestler in Showdown has his (there are no women in this game) original theme music or a version that is somewhat close or dead off. You can’t entirely blame Acclaim for the entrance music though because there was obviously licensing issues with some of the talent in the game. The in game music is pretty bad, but thankfully Showdown for the Xbox features the custom soundtrack option so you can listen to whatever you want during the matches. Another cool feature about the sound in Showdown is the announcers which is surprisingly one of the only things this game does right. The announce team consists of recognizable people in the wrestling business and they are Tony Schiavone, Larry Zbyszko, and Bobby “The Brain” Heenan. They provide information on the history of each of the wrestlers and decent commentary on the action going on inside the ring. The sounds the wrestlers make are mediocre at best with there grunts and none of the wrestlers added their voice to the game other then Bret Hart and he talks only in the tutorial.

OVERALL
Showdown was obviously made for fans of wrestling and not fans of wrestling video games. Showdown will give any wrestling fan a good sense of nostalgia, but fans of wrestling video games and casual fans should steer clear of Showdown because it fails to learn from it’s predecessors past mistakes and even makes some new ones. I can only recommend this as a rental for wrestling fans, but once the nostalgia wears off you can see the game for what it is and that is a very average wrestling game that I can only recommend as a rental for fans of the sport.

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Favorite Moment Hearing the voices of the old WCW announce team together once again.
Forgettable Moment EVERYTHING! Showdown is one of the most forgettable games I have played in a long time. The series refuses to follow in the foot steps of the great and innovative Smackdown series on the PS2 or evolve much at all for that mater.
Graphics Showdown is a very average looking game that is plagued with graphical hiccups and glitches.
Control The controls are awkward and at times unresponsive, but as awkward as the button placement is you can get used to it after awhile.
Sound The controls are awkward and at times unresponsive, but as awkward as the button placement is you can get used to it after awhile.
Gameplay Very poor and boring. Showdown at times looks like a game of grab ass due to the graphical glitches and it also plays like one.
Replay If you have a friend over then you might find this game fun for awhile on multiplayer, but as a single player game it gets old fast and there isn’t really much to unlock. I think there are a few wrestlers to unlock and that’s about it.
Handicap Showdown is basically one big handicap. With it’s awkward controls, glitch ridden graphics, and overall lame gameplay that brings nothing new to the genre and doesn’t even bother to implement some of the new things that a lot of last years wrestling titles had.