Lucha Libre AAA Heroes of the Ring
The wrestling landscape in America has changed drastically in the last 10 years, both in terms of what's on TV and what's on gaming consoles. Ever since Vince McMahon purchased WCW and ECW in 2001, there has only been one big name on the national level (TNA doesn't count). Prior to WWE becoming what it is today, there were completely different games based on WWF, WCW, and ECW properties. Consumers of both television and video games had a much larger selection when it came to their sports entertainment, but as of 2010 it's boiled down to WWE on television and Smackdown vs. Raw on consoles. Sure, WWE is working on the promising All Stars, but we're still dealing with the same roster. Konami wants to offer wrestling fans another option, and they've wisely gone with the dynamic world of Mexican lucha libre.
Luchadors are a completely different breed than the John Cenas and Undertakers known to U.S. wrestling fans. They perform an incredibly fast-paced and acrobatic style that makes the stars we're used to seem like lumbering giants by comparison. That's why I'm concerned about AAA Heroes Del Ring. While lucha libre and "sports entertainment" are two extremely different products, the preview build I've spent time with feels like an outdated version of what we're used to. In fact, it feels more like Acclaim's clunky WWF titles (Warzone, Attitude) than the well-oiled machine known as Smackdown vs. Raw.
I started out the rudos (lucha libre term for "heel") storyline by creating my character. My character was Frank ****bàg (pictured above), and his mask was the first order of business. I spent a good 10 minutes going through the different options and getting things just right. When I did, I backed out and went to the accessories option. Just by looking at the different glasses I could put on my character, the game erased the entirety of Frank's mask that I had been working on. Uh oh.
Once the story mode started (and I got past a cringe-worthy cutscene), I was ready to cause some trouble for my opponents. The camera panned across several identical female ring girls, and the ref started the match. It didn't take long for me to notice how terrible the announcers are. After I punched my opponent once, the announcer stated "They might have to stop the match!" Later, I put my opponent in a submission hold which he promptly broke out of. Not 90 seconds later, I performed the same submission hold. The announcer screamed "I've never seen anyone break out of that submission hold!"
Errors like these are all over the game (even going as far as spelling/grammatical errors during load screens and bios), and I hope it's due to its preview build status. However, with the game releasing on October 12th, it's doubtful the game has made huge strides in such a short period of time. I hope I'm wrong...as a lifelong wrestling fan, I'd like to see more options when it comes to gaming. Smackdown vs. Raw is great, and All Stars is looking awesome, but I'd like to try a radically different alternative. Heroes Del Ring has the concept, now I'm just worried about the execution.