Eh.

AAA Heroes del Ring is definitely a video game featuring AAA luchadors. The strongest point of the game are the models of the AAA characters, who look very accurate and true to life. Everything else has it’s issues: game play leans towards more frustration than fun, both the story mode and the announcing quickly become repetitive, and there’s not much depth here. The CAW appears to have a lot of options, but having only four slots to save is strange and limiting on today’s systems, and there’s no apparent way to easily share your creations. I have not yet tried multiplayer or online (did not appear to be working) – those might be fun, but there weren’t a lot of extra options there.

As the first major game completed by a Mexican video game company, it’s a remarkable achievement. As a $60 game going up against $60 games, it’s doesn’t hold up to the competition. Not just of wrestling games, but of games entirely in 2010. If the novelty of an AAA game appeals to you, it’s worth getting. It’s not a terrible or broken game, but one that’s not nearly as fleshed out as any other new game you’d buy at the moment and doesn’t have enough charm or fun to make up for the lack of standard features.

Heroes del Ring feels about 10 years behind the curve. (And even then, WCW/nWo Revenge had tag team moves and six people in the ring.) Getting from zero to here is a good start, but they’ve got just as far to go if they want to make a good game.

I spent most of my time today playing the tecnico Story Mode. Which is not much of a story. You’re a debuting wrestler, you feud with another debut and win some matches, you watch La Parka win the Mega title from Konnan (!!) only to be taken out by Zorro after the match (in a vignette, no in play run-ins) and the belt get stolen by an unseen thief in the ensuing battle. You and the other tecnicos go thru the rudos until (I assume) you eventually get the title back.

In practice, this means a lot of separate matches. If you’re being generous, Heroes del Ring has six types of matches (singles, tag – everyone in, triangle, four way, 1 v 2, 1 v 3) and you’re forced into every type before the story is even half over. Some work OK. Some work not OK. Handicap matches are an utter pain and without fun – with three at a time, it took me serious manipulation (drawing someone out for a countout and sliding back in time) – to finally move on. Triangle and four way matches can be either first fall wins or elimination rules, but the opponent AI are completely unable to differentiate between the two. They’ll forever break up pins and submissions in elimination matches, stretching those out much longer than they need to be.

Not that all matches are long. I had matches which felt in the 15-20 minute range. I also had matches, usually losses, where I’d be pinned in under a minute. The opponent would taunt to start the match, block my first move and land their own, quickly taunt while I was recovering, repeat the same thing a second time, maybe throw in a quick top rope move (but all top rope moves are quick) and rapidly have enough for their finish. Should the AI remember to pin next (half the time, they went for a hold instead), that was that. On rare occasions, I was able to do the same, but it’d almost always be a kickout. Not the same the other way.

Maybe I’m just not that good, and I’ll get the hang of the basic seeming counter system later (time a specific button press every time.) I wish someone would’ve gotten a better hang of restart a match. Every time you lose, you go thru a losing vignette (all the vignettes can be skipped, but sometimes it’ll take a moment to get to that option), a load back to the story mode match selection screen, reclick on the match selection, a load back to load the arena, another load to load your created wrestler, the entrances vignettes, an introduction vignette and then your’e back in play. This is a minute or two process which really should’ve been one button click – if you lose, you’re probably going to want to just play again, not go to the menu screen, it’s common sense.

CAW Notes

There are only slots to save 4 CAWs. Four seemed to be the magic number – you can have four careers, you can create four banners (no reason to do so except for the trophy) and you can only have four people in a match at a time.

Everything seems unlocked from the get go. (Instead, they lock most of the AAA wrestlers and the arenas until you get thru Story Mode.)

You must create a luchador to play thru story mode. You get to name the luchador, but the commentators will only call you “the next big star of AAA” or “that rookie” or other similarly generic names. You can not create a female luchador or a mini luchador, and all wrestlers are pretty much the same height.

Selections

On the counts below, all counts (usually) do not include the “nothing” option. I also left off most of the sliders because there were many, many of them.

27 masks styles – didn’t go closely thru all of them (and the default is to make the color white for all parts, so they’re tough to see features) – but there are definitely some masks that are familiar. Spotted Tinieblas, Lizmark and Tailsman masks.

Within the masks, you can choose from
40 eye styles
11 nose styles
28 mouth styles
21 “top accessories” (think horns – including “Ant” and Dr. X style swords.)
12 side/ear accessories

Head adjustments
5 Eyebrows
20 Eyes
nose just has 3 sliders (up/down, thin/broad, short/long)
cheeks has sliders (smaller/bigger, skinny/fat)
jaw is thin/broad
lips is thin/thick + small/bog
chin is thin/broad
16 haircuts
21 bears

13 shirts (and 33 types of t-shirts)
8 pants (35 kinds of fabric for baisc pants)
28 boots

accessories
27 hats
2 facial accessories (scarf, face warmer)
7 glasses
5 shoulder
15 chest
22 arm
3 hand (and no tape)
24 knee

tattoos
20 chest/arm
20 leg
50 face (this counts facepaint; you can choose the color(s) of most gear, but you’re stuck with the default color/style of most of the facepaint)

Moves
31 entrances (27 of those in the game, plus 4 generic ones, including one that must be for an exotico)
19 weak grapples
44 strong grapples
6 back weak grapples
10 back strong grapples
5 running towards grapples
4 running towards back grapples
13 counter running grapples
2 grapples with opponent laying down (face)
4 grapples with opponent laying down (mid)
6 grapples with opponent laying down (feet)
3 grapples with opponent laying up (face)
6 grapples with opponent laying up (mid)
12 grapples with opponent laying up (feet) – Electroshock’s “La Rey de Reyes” is actually in here.
3 weak turnbuckle grapples
4 strong turnbuckle grapples
2 sitting rival grapples
31 special grapples (finishers)
63 taunts

6 weak attack combos
5 kick attacks combos
15 strong attacks
18 running attacks
3 counter attacks to running
5 attacks to groudned opponents
10 top rope attacks
13 top rope attacks to fallen opponent
11 dives

attribute categories are
strength
speed
endurance
charisma

You have meters, and you can lower and raise your points on these meters,  but they only show you the length of the bar and not actually how many points you have in each one. It’s a bit odd.

You can choice how your entrance, but you’re stuck with whatever music they give you. No custom MP3s or anything like that. All AAA wrestlers have knock off versions of their music, and some come across better than others.

Other Stuff

I really need a Konnan soundboard from this game. There’s some total burials: Escoria has bad breath! Charly Manson is a traitor! Konnan not only says Psicosis will never be as good as Nicho, but he and Moody Jack agree Psicosis isn’t a good wrestler and you shouldn’t pick him. A large part of that is in-character as a rudo. But…

Can’t wait to hear what they say about Super Fly!

You also get stuff like Konnan talking about how much he’d like to see blood, in a game where there’s no blood. Or Konnan talking about how Psicosis often uses a bat to win a match when there are no bats to be had in this game. Commentary is usually lagging behind the action, overreacting to every move, completely unaware of the context of the match, and not nearly funny enough (accidentally or not) to make it entertaining. Most, maybe all, announcer commentary in sports game sounds bad – not enough lines, not enough awareness – but this does sound worse than usual.

Even in the video game, no one can decide if the faction is “The Dark Family” or “La Secta”. Lord help you if you don’t know they’re supposed to be the same thing.

Since everyone needs a grapple finisher, there are some weird grapple finishers. Ozz’s La Darketa actually gets in and with the name. Psicosis uses a stunner, which they make up a name for. Psycho Clown uses Matt Hardy’s Twist of Fate, which they call “Twist of Fate”. Parka uses Big Show’s Final Cut, and they use that name too.

On the other hand, Zorro’s double head fake out to set up his Superkick is so great. And his entrance and Chessman’s entrances stand out as really good. (Chessman has a bizarre frankenstein walk bit as his taunt, which is just random.) And a lot of the locations they use are cool – I want to see AAA run a show in the middle of a empty field surronded by a chain link fence sometime.

People who paid for ringside ads
- Espndeportes.com (???)
- Comex
- atomix (video game website, hmmm)

There’s probably more stuff I’m not thinking about, but we’re at 1,500 words and the points are made. I am sure I’m going to battle thru it to get all the trophies (though the online one is going to be a problem at the moment) and then put it aside and go pick up FIFA or something.