Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes del Ring Review (PS3)
In the US wrestling is largely synonymous with the WWE. There are smaller competitors, like TNA and ROH, but they are not large enough to compete on a grand scale. However, in Mexico and Latin America, there are other options, one of which is the Asistencia Asesoría y Administración, also known as AAA. AAA's style of wrestling is far different from the WWE, which is easily seen by watching matches of the promotion.
Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes del Ring is the first ever AAA video game, which is coming out just weeks before WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011, a game with a much longer history, both in terms of the game franchise itself, along with the history of the promotion it's based on. AAA was founded in 1992, while the WWE's history stretches back to 1952.
In multiple facets, the game shows how young it is. There is a lack of fluidity to how the luchadors walk around the ring. If there is any kind of obstacle at all, you are immediately stopped in your tracks. There is a lack of wrestling moves to pull off, whether it is in a grapple, from the top turnbuckle or even standard strikes. There even seems to be a lack of responsiveness when trying to make moves of any kind, although it's mostly apparent when starting to run or trying to reverse attacks.
The difficult reversals can be very problematic. In the story modes, you are often shoehorned into handicap matches, which are nearly impossible on even Easy mode. The only way possible to win that match is to reverse whenever possible because you will be in the middle of the other wrestlers as they all try to take you down. The difficulty can also be problematic because it is not consistent. I say this because the story mode does not have squash matches. In other words, the story should slowly build towards a finale. However, this tended not to be the case because there were inconsistencies between matches of ease and impossible challenges.
But the matches are not all horrific because the game combines crowd appeal and damage into most of the decisions. This aspect allows matches to look more realistic, whether it is a squash match in which one luchador gets steamrolled and loses his match popularity, or an epic back-and-forth battle between two luchadors where one goes from nearly being defeated to securing the upper hand.
Going into this game, one might have the understanding that Lucha Libre is all about the aerial combat, either from the top turnbuckle to the mat, the mat to the ringside area, or even the top turnbuckle to the ringside area, but in this game these attacks are too difficult to pull off because of the stiffness of the characters and the clunkiness of the controls. The matches are simply easier to win by using generic attacks and defense rather than a flashy aerial style, which for some characters simply does not fit their play style (one such example being Jack Evans).
The story mode, however, is not all bad. Both paths are engaging stories centered around your created luchador, and both give him a distinct personality. Most wrestlers in the mode do not have such a luxury, except for a few. There is also a Luchas de Apuestas match (basically Mask vs. Mask) in each story mode, which is an interesting facet of AAA that should have played a larger part in the game. At the very least, the stories in the game are not nearly as bad as some of the storylines in the real thing.
The Create a Luchador customization is not nearly as in-depth as WWE Smackdown vs Raw, which is to be expected. The mask creation was the highlight because you can build the mask by picking all the different pieces to make the mask unique. The attire selection is reasonable, but it's not nearly as complete as the other offering.
The graphics are nice to look at, and each luchador looks great. The arenas have some unique feel, including a couple locales outside the Mayan pyramids. Simply put, this game gives WWE Smackdown vs Raw a run for its money in terms of how everything looks, but Lucha Libre is not as fluid as the other game in the ring.
The voice acting is hit and miss. The voice for the Tecnico campaign is terrible, but in the Rudo campaign it is very good. Konnan's intro is decent but is not something to write home about. Immediately after buying this game, every gamer should immediately switch to Spanish announcing. The English announcing is just horrific to try to listen to.
Some of the best parts of the story mode are the videos where the game takes a few minutes to explain more about Lucha Libre, AAA and how it connects with the crowd. The game tries to hammer home the uniqueness of Lucha Libre, and it largely succeeds. The game does a fantastic job in giving the player a different view of wrestling, one with massive amounts of honor at stake in every match.
When it comes to online play, every match type available offline is also available online. There is also a Luchas de Apuestas option for ranked matches where you offer up the hair or mask of your created wrestler. If you are a fervent online player, it could add a couple hours to your enjoyment of this game.
Perhaps the biggest failing of the game is that it just does not have enough content. After you beat both stories, you will have unlocked a lot of the luchadors in the game. There is no indication of how to unlock the others, or the code in which to play with the minis, who are shorter wrestlers under 5-feet tall. The problem is that even if there was an indication, these would not add any additional significant playtime.
Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes del Ring is a fun game. The story mode is well done for a first go at wrestling, with a reverence with what makes Lucha Libre great. However, with a relatively clunky control scheme, players are not likely playing exhibition matches to expand the playtime. The online mode might add some playtime for some players, and the Rey del Reyes Tournament mode might add some offline multiplayer appeal, but this game just does not make the competition submit. This game is fun, but it does not have $60 worth of fun. This game would have been much better served to be $40 instead of a full $60 purchase.
In the Ring: The game is not as fluid as it should be and has clunky controls. The inconsistent difficulty does not help either.
Graphics: This game is not one of the most beautiful games ever, but it looks good. Each luchador looks very good.
Audio: At times the sound is great, but at others it is laughable. The English commentary is terrible, and the Tecnico voice-over work is pretty bad as well.
Entertainment Value: The entertainment value lasts through the end of both story modes, but it ends there. There just is not very much else left to prolong the enjoyment.
Learning Curve: If you have played a wrestling game, there is not that much of a difference. Most of the learning curve has to do with the clunky controls.
Online: Online play is serviceable and adds a nice Lucha de Apuestas mode. But you still fight with the clunky controls, plus any lag you might have.
Score: 5.5 (Slightly Above Average)