The gameplay and control system of Lucha Libre sets and extremely solid foundation for the game but things go downhill rapidly when the rest of the game comes into play. First off, the game features a less than stellar collision detection system, especially when it comes to combat near the edge of the ring. Many of your stronger strikes completed near the ropes will launch your opponent out of the ring... and in an extremely awkward manner. While this can be an effective part of your offense when it happens intentionally, the game often send the opponent out of the ring when you don’t want them to go. Add that to the fact that the animations involved with said ring exits are absolutely ridiculous. The characters just seem to flop out of the ring with absolutely zero finesse. There is little to no grace involved with such ring exits and it just looks plain bad. The same thing could be said, to a slightly lesser degree, for aerial moves performed from the top rope(s). The animations of the actual moves look nice, but the timing is off by quite a bit and the whole procedure ends up looking like a badly botched move from the independent circuit(s). Considering that the lucha libre style of wrestling focuses heavily on aerial moves and attacks, this becomes a horrible setback for the game.
There are many wrestlers in the game’s roster that rely heavily on high-flying arsenals so one would think that the aerial combat system would be as refined as the grappling and base gameplay system. It isn’t. The moves and aerial abilities are there, but it just looks sloppy in many cases and ruins the flow and feel of the matches. This is perhaps the biggest area that Immersion needs to focus on when and if they develop another iteration of the game. The foundation is laid, now they really need to focus on the details in order to bring the rest of the game on par with the grappling system.
Another huge problem area for the game is the speed of movement, or perhaps the lack thereof. Everything in the game moves at a single, slow pace. When you character walks across the screen, he moves at one speed, and when he runs across he moves at the exact same speed practically but uses a slightly different animation. This severely limits the variety and effectiveness of the gameplay and looks sloppy in motion. It is almost as if the developers took all of the time in the world laying this fantastic groundwork for a game and then just threw all of the details in on top at the last second. The amount of potential in the game really bothers me because I think that it could have been really good... it could have been a contender in the wrestling game genre, but the severe lack of polish and finish on the game completely ruins any chance of that.
If they manage to stick with it and put the gameplay system to use, gamers will find a variety of modes including both single and multiplayer options. Lucha Libre AAA includes the following game modes: Pride Battle (exhibition), King of Kings (tournament), online matchmaking, training mode (learn the basics as well as advanced techniques), and Story Mode (career campaign). I wish that I could speak more about the online modes of the game, but there just hasn’t been any opportunity to play them. I have been unable to find anyone online to play the game with. The premise of the online modes seems strong though as it is based around your Luchador’s pride. While you can participate in almost any type of match online, the ranked portion involves Hair vs. Mask matches, which mean almost everything in the Lucha Libre culture. Players who lose in these matches will be forced to regain their pride by winning three consecutive ranked matches before they can get their hair or mask back. It is an interesting take on the premise and serves the Lucha Libre setting well. Unfortunately though, few gamers will get to truly experience it as there just isn’t anyone playing online.
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