Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes del Ring review

As wrestling fans wait for WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 to arrive next week, we do have an alternative to turn to; one that opens the door to the fascinating history of Lucha Libre wrestling. Some well-known superstars of the US ring grew up with Lucha Libre in their blood, including WWE’s own Rey Mysterio and several other superstars, such as La Parka and Vampiro. Made by the Mexico-based team at Slang, Lucha Libre AAA can’t take WWE head-on, but

You have eight Lucha Libre superstars to start with. There are several familiar types here, but the ones you’ll probably want to start with are La Parka and Vampiro, although you’re welcome to choose whoever As you proceed, you can unlock additional characters and other bonus goodies. The more the roster opens up, the more variety you have available.

Heroes del Ring features a number of matches, all based on traditional Lucha Libre set-ups. Mask vs. Hair is always a favorite, and you can even set up your own referee, either as a face (good guy) or heel (bad guy) to keep the crowd at bay. Other types are also available, including Fatal Four Way, Triple Threat, and the option to go into a Handicapped Match – though you’d be crazy to do so.

The main draw is the Story mode, where you learn the ropes (literally) as you work your way to Lucha Libre stardom. A word of warning – the difficulty ramps up in this mode, and the last few matches will put you in a world of hurt if you’re not ready. Thankfully, there’s a tutorial function that teaches you the basics, along with the quick matches for practice. You can also challenge your friends as well, either locally or online through Xbox Live and PlayStation Network.

Best of all, you can create your own Lucha, and here’s where Heroes del Ring gets interesting. You can choose a number of options in this mode, including outfits, names, wrestling techniques and more. There is a plethora of options to dig through, and you’ll be busy for hours at a time creating your own wing of Lucha Libre pros. Nothing wrong with that.

Although there were times that grapples didn’t come off as instantly as I would have wanted, pulling off grandstanding moves isn’t a chore. You’ll go high-flying, chair-swinging and foe throwing like a pro, and you can easily execute finishing moves and pins without worry. You can taunt your opponents, and not only is it vital to your character’s style, but it also keeps the crowd interested in you, building your popularity. Even if you take the route of the “heel”, you’ll enjoy showing off.

Considering that Immersion doesn’t have the same experience developing wrestling games as Yukes, it’s done a great job here. The wrestlers are animated beautifully, and the collision detection is almost spot on, especially during grapples. Watching these wrestlers execute their grabs, spins and ridiculous high-flying moves is a real treat. Don’t be afraid to visit the top rope in this game – you’ll like the result, no matter what it is.

The atmosphere is equally superb, with low-tier ring set-ups and arenas for you to prove your worth in. You’ll have no problem seeing what’s happening in the ring, or outside of it, thanks to a camera set-up that keeps everything in view – even the cheating Luchas trying to get you from the outside. Watch out for those steel chairs!

The audio commentary can be played in English or Spanish, a huge plus for a game such as this. Spanish is definitely the best option, as it’s so rapid fire and inspired, it’s remarkable – even if you don’t understand it. The English commentary is okay, but tends to be repetitive. Still, it’s good to hear Konnan again. You know Konnan, right? The dude behind the Tequila Sunrise?

For a debut effort from Immersion and Slang, Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes del Ring is an enjoyable piece of work. The gameplay really clicks (for the most part), the presentation is true to the sport, and there are more than enough matches and modes to keep you busy when not detailing your luchador. It has a long way to go to catch WWE Smackdown vs. Raw, but here’s hoping that Lucha Libre AAA expands even further with future installments.

[Reviewed on Xbox 360]