Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes del Ring

Review

posted 11/3/2010 by Jeremy Duff
other articles by Jeremy Duff
One Page Platforms: PS3
 In the world of wrestling video games, there is the Smackdown vs Raw series, and... well... that is pretty much it. This year though, Konami and Slang are hoping to change that fact with the debut of Immersion Software’s Lucha Libre AAA: Heroes del Ring. The title takes gamers in an entirely new direction, south of the border, into the world of Lucha Libre (Spanish for “free fighting”). The popularity of the Lucha Libre style of wrestling has grown immensely in the United States over the past 15 years since the style was introduced to American television via a WCW talent exchange with the AAA Federation back in 1994. Ever since that promotion, numerous Mexican stars have made their way North into the popular US wrestling federations such as WCW, ECW, WWF/E, and TNA and injected the high flying Lucha-style into our traditional professional wrestling. Now, AA is looking to break into the American culture once again with their first video game based on their popular Mexican promotion.


When you enter the world of Heroes del Ring, it is important to know and understand the culture behind Lucha Libre in comparison to the style of wrestling that is prominent in the US. In the world of Lucha Libre, the fans are everything. There is a lot more “playing to the crowd” done throughout Mexican promotions than we see in the WWE / TNA. The same premise of crowd support exists in our wrestling culture, but the Lucha Libre style takes it to a whole new level. There are two classifications of wrestlers in the AAA promotion, the Tecnicos and the Rudos. The Technicos, or technicals, are the good guys who play by the rules and want nothing more than to be adored by their fans. The Rudos on the other hand, will do anything to win and are more interested in inflicting punishment on the crowd favorites. We have a similar system in the US but we often refer to them as faces (good guys) and heels (bad guys). Lucha Libre in general, as well as the AAA promotion, focuses heavily on these two factions and individual wrestlers are usually strongly aligned with one side or the other. The gameplay system that is used in Heroes del Ring is based heavily on this alignment system.

The main aspect of Lucha Libre’s gameplay mechanic revolves around the player assuming and fulfilling their role within the faction that they choose to align with. If you are playing as a Tecnicos wrestler you will see a huge benefit from keeping your fighting style(s) clean and following the rules; on the other hand, as a member of the Rudos you will want to do everything in your power(s) to make sure that the fans despise your every move. You will need to do this through not only your techniques in (and out) of the ring but also by utilizing your various taunts to rally or infuriate the crowd as needed throughout your matches. It is this concept of fan support, or hatred for that matter, that fuels the gameplay system in AAA. The success of your characters moves and attacks is based on the amount of crowd reaction that you draw; the stronger the reaction that you have coming from the crowd, the more likely your character is to win a lockup / grapple with your opponent and to pull off stronger, more effective moves.


If you are familiar with the popular wrestling games from the Nintendo 64 era, the control system utilized in Lucha Libre AAA should feel extremely familiar.This is perhaps the closest thing to Aki system that gamers have seen in years, since the old Def Jam games perhaps. The Aki-style system is built around the concept of weak and strong grapples. This premise, combined with the importance of fan reaction, requires gamers to gain momentum and support (or heat) from the crowd in order to widen your arsenal of moves.

To be specific, the R2 button initiates a weak grapple, which will allow you to then follow up with a face button of your choice that will trigger something along the lines of a short-armed clothesline or perhaps a body-slam. It doesn't take much to successfully pull off weak grapple moves, unless your opponent has really got the crowd momentum swung in their direction. Strong grapples on the other hand, which are initiated with L2, require some serious crowd reaction in order to successfully complete. You will want to both wear down your opponent with weak grapple-moves, strikes, and submission moves, as well as work on the crowd in order to build yourself up to completing the stronger, more complicated moves that are started with the strong grapple.
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