Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes del RingESRB:
Platform: Xbox 360
Developer: Immersion Games/Slang
Online Play (2-4 Players)
I have to say that when it comes to the sport of Mexican wrestling, also known as Lucha Libre, I am pretty much clueless when it comes to who is who, and what the sport is really all about. So when I was given the chance to review Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes del Ring, I was somewhat intrigued, but even a little lost, in terms of what a videogame based on this sport would entail. Well after some time I can say that I am still intrigued, but in the sense that I really would like to see a real life Lucha Libre event. As for the game itself, I am sure most are wondering what kind of job it does putting a virtual form of the sport into the hands of gamers.
Visually speaking Heroes del Ring isn’t that bad looking. There are some funky looking wrestlers that show off some good detail in terms of the flashy costumes and intricate mask designs that are associated with the sport. Animations are pretty good too, although you will find some ‘clunky’ ones now and then. I found that the speed of the game seemed somewhat slow though, given that I did some online research on the world of Lucha Libre and the real life wrestling clips that I saw were wild, crazy, and moved at a fast pace. This pace did not seem to be matched in the game’s action. As for the arenas and rings where the action takes place, they look pretty good too. Now I have only seen brief clips online, and I do not know any of the major places that these matches actually occur at, but I can say the visual representation of the rings and arenas in the game are accurate in terms of any stadiums or arenas that these may indeed take place in, and the atmosphere is pretty well recreated.
The audio that is included on the disc manages to help convey the spectacle that is Lucha Libre, from the high flying leaps to the crowd wildly cheering during the match. There is some music to be found as well, and it is very suitable to the game’s theme. There is both English and Spanish commentating in the game as well. I found that the English commentating could be somewhat repetitive and not all that engaging. Given that this sport originates from Mexico, I did switch it to Spanish and found that the flow and tone of the Spanish commentators seemed to match the on-screen action better, even if I could not understand 99.9% of it. I don’t know why this was so, but given the sport’s origins and followers, this kind of makes sense as the Spanish commentators maybe more familiar with the sport and are apt to be more excited by the action.
In Heroes del Ring you are given a chance to control what I believe to be some of the more popular and well known Luchadors who grace the arenas and TV’s in Mexico. Along with choosing from existing Luchadors there is a chance for you to create your own Luchador as well. The latter can be used in Heroes del Ring’s story mode.
In the story mode, you take your created Luchador through a thinly developed story. The trick to the story is that there are two story lines. For those interested in the Technios Camp, you will find yourself looking for the person(s) that stole your camp leader’s championship belt. For those interested in the Rudos Camp, you will find yourself looking for a member of your own team who took the belt. Although the stories do play out differently, there is quite a bit of overlap in the story lines. That being said, at least there is an effort to include a story and give you some incentive to be engaged in the game.
As you make your way through one of the two stories, you will end up involved in many different types of wrestling matches from standard one on one to large group matches. I found that the difficulty managed to ramp up somewhat in the story mode, and that there was quite a challenge to end up the victor. I also found that the matches I encountered further on into the story had computer AI wrestlers that were much more difficult to beat. Although it would make sense for this to occur, you are only given a limited number of attribute points throughout the story that can be added to your created character’s skills, which in the end does not match up against the later wrestlers. It was a strange thing indeed and I don’t know why the developers do not allow you to “level up” in such a way that your attributes remain somewhat close to the computer AI’s attributes to make it more even. In the end though, if you persevere you will take your created Luchador to Lucha Libre stardom and find out the answers to your quest.
In terms of any other modes, Heroes del Ring does offer other things for you to do. Should you be interested in some quick action, you can choose the game’s Pride Battle Mode which allows for many different quick matches such as 1 vs. 1, 2 vs. 2, Triple Threat Match, Mask vs. Hair, or Fatal Four Way. You can even enter a Handicap Match should you decide. You can also challenge a friend, either locally or over Xbox LIVE. All in all there is a lot for you to do other than the story mode.
Controlling the on-screen action is where this game runs into some issues. I found that pulling off moves could be a hit and miss affair. The biggest problem I experienced as the root cause of this was that targeting various fighters or areas on fighters was not accurate. For example, when more than one foe was in the ring, and I went to engage with a specific wrestler, the game would not always allow me to fight that specific Luchrador. It was not that the game was saying “no, not that guy,” but it was the targeting mechanics that caused me to end up hitting another unintended person in the ring. This issue also affected when I tried to grab specific areas of a wrestler that would result in a wrong move or failed submission attempt occurring. This also affects your ability to pin an opponent at times. Overall this problem does take away some of the enjoyment of the game given that the targeting sometimes gets it right, and sometimes it gets it wrong, and when the latter occurs you’ll scream in frustration.
When playing Heroes del Ring I learned that a big factor of the world of Lucha Libre is the popularity of the wrestlers, and the virtual version of the spectacle takes this into consideration. Assisting you in your quest for victory is your ability to win over the crowd. This occurs by performing successful grappling and punching attacks of varying levels, as well as by taunting your opponent. Once you reach a 5-star rating in this area you can activate a special attack and open up a can of whoop-ass.
Finally, you’ll find that there are some AI issues that affect your gameplay experience. It is almost as though the computer AI has a very strange mind of its own. This can range from allies fighting each other to an opponent attacking some other character (e.g. another wrestler or even the referee) when it is clear that he should be focused on you. During these instances, I was left scratching my head wondering what the heck was going on. It was strange indeed and I have no explanation of why this would occur.
Something that I found pretty cool, and that I have to comment on, is the creation system in Heroes del Ring. I was quite surprised with the level of depth and options when creating my own personal Luchador. The choices for features when designing the well identified “hitch” of the world of Lucha Libre, the mask, was quite impressive. Overall I think that you will be able to come up with a pretty cool looking Luchador of your choosing.
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