Full Review: A legend never dies; they just get a lot older.
Pro wrestling often gets a bad rap for its overly violent content and over-the-top storylines that are meant to shock you. Sometimes it's good to look back at the glory days of wrestling and remember why so many fans became interested in sports entertainment in the first place. That's why I like the idea of these Legends of Wrestling games, it gives you the chance to play as some of your favourite wrestlers from days gone by. This is Acclaim's third try at the Legends franchise and now this fun series promises more old school wrestlers, new play-by-play commentary, and easier game play. Showdown proves to be the best one yet in the series but the game is still filled with more problems then Jake ?the Snake' Roberts career.
Showdown wouldn't be much of a sequel if it didn't have more legends, eh? New editions include big time names like the scary NWA/WCW superstar Sting, one of the stars of Beyond the Mat: Jake the Snake Roberts (he didn't look too good in that documentary by the way), the late ?Mr. Perfect' Curt Henning, the strange Native American wanna-be: the Ultimate Warrior, Spiderman star and now rap artist Macho man Randy Savage and many more. There are over 70 superstars here so unless you're Amish there is bound to be at least one name that is recognizable.
Perhaps the biggest surprise for me was that Eddie Guerrero is still part of the line up here. Big wrestling companies like the WWE are in no way part of Showdown yet here is one of their main event players in a rival franchise. Just to get an idea how big Eddie was in 2004 he actually won their World Heavyweight Champion at a February PayPerView. This really surprised me because if Acclaim was smart they would have put Eddie on the cover art instead of a washed up loser like Jake Roberts but hey, that's just my opinion.
If you don't like the list of legends here or you just see someone missing then the Create-a-Legend feature is back. Acclaim even included outfits from other famous WWF or ECW superstars like Kurt Angle, Doink the Clown, and Rob Van Dam but the trade off was that I couldn't even change the colours? I also found it annoying that when I was editing the moves that they were not listed in alphabetical order. It was very confusing to search for what you want plus there was no mention of the damage a move could cause either. The Create-a-Legend could have been a lot better but with enough effort you should be able to make a few famous faces like Nature Boy Ric Flair and the Undertaker no problem.
Sure, I could talk about Showdown's roster here all day but another big question is how does it play? Thankfully Showdown is quite easy to pick up and play and Acclaim even done away with the awkward ISP system where you were forced to time your moves perfectly if you wanted the most damage. If you don't like reading manuals, the game even comes with a built in tutorial hosted by none other then Bret ?the Hitman' Hart so you can learn how the game works in just a few minutes.
Acclaim also improved the graphics slightly so the characters don't look too cartoon-like or exaggerated this time. Guys like Andy Kaufman now looks like a believable 150 pound Hollywood celebrity instead of some beefed up 220 pound cruiserweight like he was in the previous game. Unfortunately other wrestlers like Jerry the King Lawler was never a steroid buff like a Hulk Hogan yet he looks totally ripped here and King Kong Bundy still looks way too fat. C'mon, he was only 400 pounds not 800! Another issue I have with the game is with its questionable animation. The Ultimate Warrior, for example, just doesn't have the same intensity when he runs to the ring and wildly grabs and shakes the ropes during his entrance. You can even see his hands are not even touching the ropes here either. If that wasn't bad enough, there is even this one really ugly glitch where the wrestlers can float across the screen without warning.
Showdown also added play-by-play commentary which is done by none other then Bobby ?the Brain' Heenan, ?Living Legend' Larry Zbyszko, and Tony Schiavone. This is a great bonus because these three men are very knowledgeable of the sport but it doesn't take long for the commentary to become repetitive after a few matches in the Showdown mode. There is an option to use the Custom Soundtracks option here but only as background music. You can't use them for entrance themes like in WWE Raw 2 (also for the Xbox).