async src="//"> The Wrestling Chronicle: Legendary: The Perils of Living in the Past

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Legendary: The Perils of Living in the Past

Hmmm, someone at 2K didn't read my Suicida Solution article I wrote a few months ago on I wrote that piece just as THQ, the previous owners of the publishing rights of WWE video games  was in the middle of being sold off IP (intellectual property) by IP and in it I offered up some points to consider for the future of WWE games, one of which was the avoidance of relying on the inclusion of legends to garner interest. Given what Yuke's & 2K have announced in WWE2k14's "30 years of WrestleMania" mode, the practice seems to have gone into overdrive. As I said, Hmmm...

My issues with legends in the core WWE series are twofold, firstly the attention to detail in these games are sorely lacking at times, be it lazy character modeling  inappropriate move sets  the wrong theme or wonky animation. Nostalgia is a powerful thing, but poorly realized nostalgia can be an incredibly huge misstep. The much vaunted Attitude era mode of WWE 2k14 was a nice idea in theory, but adherence to current WWE political dogma meant that certain aspects & key players were strangely absent. This may not be the cynical rewriting of history you may imagine but it does seem that the Attitude Era mode is best enjoyed by those who have little or no prior knowledge of the time, so the target audience that the mode is pitched at may find themselves turned off by inconsistencies.

My second issue is that the heavy- handed & aggressive promotion of the legends (and with WWE 2k14 it's almost sledgehammer levels of promotion) devalues the current roster. One of the main faults of modern WWE is a seeming lack of ability to create stars that truly catch on with crowds and video games are an extra way of exposing your talent to an audience. For example, my first exposure to WCW was through the Nintendo 64 AKI/THQ wrestling games WCW vs nWo World Tour & WCW/nWo Revenge.  WCW wasn't really a factor on UK television until 1999 or so but when it did I was fully aware of who pretty much everybody was & what their big moves were, and thus the barrier of unfamiliarity was broken. The reliance on the legends could be seen as someone somewhere within Take Two (the publishers) or within WWE itself being unconfident in the current crop of stars ability to shift units. Whose fault this situation is if it's true is another article for another time, but when your game's marketing is essentially "WWE Legends of WrestleMania 2: Now featuring guys & gals you see on TV each week" something is wrong with your current product.

Legends in WWE games used to be a novelty, unlockable characters whose inclusion was almost akin to Easter eggs for long term fans. For anyone curious and not already aware the practice first started with 2003's WWE SmackDown: Here Comes The Pain, where The Iron Sheik, Nikolai Volkoff, Roddy Piper, Sgt. Slaughter, Jimmy Snuka, Hillbilly Jim & a retro version of The Undertaker could all be unlocked. This continued as the series morphed into WWE SmackDown vs Raw through to today's WWE 2k14, with each version getting a larger selection of wrestlers from yesteryear.

I'll admit there's a great thrill to be had playing "fantasy warfare" matching classic stars against their modern equivalents, but I'm starting to feel like the current roster is secondary or an afterthought in favour of a nostalgia powered cash grab. It's the development equivalent of booking a legend in an attempt to increase a PPV buyrate except the legends count dwarfs that of the established and future stars (which come to think of it, being an old WCW fan, I should like this state of affairs).

My personal solution would be to ape 2009's WWE Legends of WrestleMania and give the legends their own game with the option to import the current roster into the game for those who own both, or better yet offer up the legends as downloadable content for a fee, freeing up the disc for more of today's roster to earn a little royalty money from sales of the game. Some of you may be screaming at me that the create a wrestler function serves this purpose, but I'm not blessed with a lot of free time, and the game's roster coming "some assembly required" is something I'm not prepared to put up with, and I'm aware there's the community creations option, but have you tried using WWE 13's online servers? Exactly.

Will I buy WWE 2k14? Yes. Will I buy the ridiculously expensive Phenom edition? Yes, if just for the Undertaker signature. Does this make me a hypocrite? Almost certainly, but for all the issues I have with the roster, the games are still enjoyable on the whole and the only way I as a consumer can support the developers is to buy the thing, as in today's cut throat videogame market perceived "poor sales" can mean a series gets cancelled all too easily. So while I may have my gripes, I'd hate to see wrestling videogames die out, I just hope in the future as far as the main WWE games go, the legends go back to being special attractions, and not the main focus of everything (and you can all do your own WCW/TNA jokes).

Martin Dixon
PSN ID: BunnySuicida

Martin Dixon hails from Barnsley in South Yorkshire, UK. He's been a wrestling fan for over 20 years and writing regularly for since January 2013. If you are interested in submitting an article for The Wrestling Chronicle send your completed piece attached in an email to
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