I originally preordered Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes Del Ring because of the mask giveaway. One of the masks was La Parka and my Gamestop agreed to make sure I got that specific mask. La Parka (Actually L.A. Park) is one of my favorite wrestlers of all time, and I even have his full costume that I’ve worn for Halloween before. Unfortunately, the masks were cancelled at the last second, but I decided to pick this up anyway because I’m always looking for an alternative to THQ games. I’ve earned about 14 trophies and am halfway through the Technicos storyline, so here are ten quick thoughts on the game.
1. Holy crap, is this game slow. Even running is at a very slow pace. Isn’t Lucha Libre supposed to be fast?
2. Looking through all the possible moves, there is a distinct lack of aerial or high impact flippy moves in the game. They don’t have arm drag takedowns off the top rope or any springboard dropkicks, but they do have moves like Military Press Slams and the GTS. The game’s moves are more akin to AJPW than a Lucha Libre game.
3. CAW is VERY limited. It’s better than TNA Impact!, or the first WWF Smackdown!, but it’s still very limited compared to what we are used to in 2010. The best I could really do was Shark Boy, and even then, it’s just his mask. At least I could give him the Stunner as his finisher. You can ALMOST make Jushin Liger, but you can only have one set of horns so it’s either the four on the side or the one in the front, so I said screw it. I think I’ll be able to make Hayabusa or Tiger Mask IV at least, and I know I can make Mil Mascaras, but if I do, I’m making him as a Rudo since he’s a dick. I could also probably make Great Sasuke out of Octagon.
4. I love the roster. I only know about half of them but La Parka, Konnan, Psicosis (with mask!), Cibernetico, Vampiro, Silver King (with a mask?), Octagon and the like are back in video game form and it’s great to see. I haven’t had Psicosis or La Parka in a game since WCW Revenge or my beloved Smackdown Vs. Raw 2006 where I have them as CAWs.
5. There are two versions of story mode – one for technicos and one for rudos. Both are well done and tell the story of an up and coming young luchadore trying to make it in the business. It’s very Lucha Libre, but WWE fans might turn their noses at it since it’s very black and white ala the 80s. However since WWE currently has two undead guys shooting fire and lightning at each other, there’s no real room to judge.
6. There are only FOUR CAW slots in the game. That’s going to be a deal breaker for many gamers. There are midgets that you can unlock though. JUNIORS ARE BACK BABY! (Edit: 5:01pm EST – Some people are taking that last sentence in this thought and thinking it is the code to unlock the midgets. It’s not. it’s just a statement. You’re going to have to find the code on your own.)
7. I love the opening cinematic in the game as well as all the videos about Lucha Libre and its history. However they do forget to mention that tag matches in this game are what we normally consider “Texas Tornado” matches.
8. Gameplay is a bit awkward. Blocking is pretty bad as you only get a millisecond to do so. Moves are done in Strong Style, where you have to work your way up to more powerful moves. Again, this is more a AJPW game with luchadores than a true Lucha Libre game. Contrary to some outright lying on the net by posters on some sites, there are more than 100 moves in the game. It’s just stuff you’d see Misawa do rather than Super Calo (who isn’t in the game, but I may make him and it would be easy).
9. I really like the pinfall and submission system in the game. In both you’ll have to button mash a particular random button, as will your opponent. The button will also change randomly so you have to pay attention besides mashing. If you mess up, the opponent gets the advantage. This means if they are on offense, you’ll be closer to submitting or tapping out and the opposite is true if they mess up and you don’t.
10. Overall the game is better than TNA Impact! and the post AKI WCW games like Nitro, Thunder and Backstage Assault, as well as the three WWF games for the original Xbox. It’s something that would have been considered really good in the PSX or early PS2 era, but it’s too little, too late compared to the sheer amount of customization and match styles available in the last few WWE games. Right now it’s a thumbs in the middle and really only for fans of the specific luchadores on the roster. It’s a nice first start and it’s only Immersion Software & Graphics’ second game. From that perspective, this is impressive. Compared to Yukes and Aki games though, it’s definitely missing something. The sequel is already announced, so here’s hoping that one is a bit better.
At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself: do you want to spend money to support a new but flawed game in hopes that they will get funding for a sequel and that the developers will learn from their mistakes, or do you want to save that money but be stuck with a THQ monopoly on professional wrestling games in North America? Both sides have their advantages and disadvantages.