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Reviewed: Backyard Wrestling 2
Author: Michael Ahlf       Date: December 23rd, 2004
Page: 2
Let's start with what's not painful about this title - it's a pretty short list. First of all, the graphics are much improved; character models are much less blocky, arena damage looks much more real. Some of the "weapons" to be picked up are actually generated from broken material, which is a nice touch. Musically the game's decently sound. While there are plenty of rap tracks, it's the first time I can say that they go well with the game theme, and the rock tracks are equally well done.

The roster's greatly expanded, filling out the "usual suspects" list of ICP, Vampiro, New Jack, Sick Nick Mondo, and other faces only recognizable to underground wrestling fans with "celebrity" co-stars like Andrew WK and celebrity porn stars like Tera Patrick and Sunrise Adams. And there's the admittedly impressive "Enviro-Mental Attack" options, which occur when executing a grapple (something new for the game) in exactly the right spot, launching a cutscene of some ridiculous attack and dealing extra damage. Visually, they're quite impressive, though I would rather they be placed in an actual wrestling title.

Well, that's it for the good parts. Now for the pain.

As a single-player game, the title is just boring. Career mode is more of a "teaching the engine" setup, which is silly since the control system is ludicrously simple and the gameplay about as deep as a 3-year-old's wading pool. Create a wrestler (yes, you have to make one for this mode), and then get plopped into the game with a number of "missions" to complete. Don't worry about winning the match; all you have to do is execute the number of counters, headshots, weapon attacks, enviro-mentals, or whatever else is needed. You can lose and the game still progresses.

Unlike any other wrestling game known to mankind, the objective isn't to pin your opponent or make them submit. Rather, it's to beat them into bloody unconsciousness. Take their health bar to zero, and you win. For this reason alone, the game's not really a "wrestling" title, but just poorly made fighting game with "wrestling" in the name.

Attacks-wise, the improvements to the engine haven't saved it. They have a grapple button and block button right now, as well as the enviro-mental attacks. That's about all that's changed. As I said, it's a fighting game, the objective being to beat the enemy to a unconsciousness. That means that grappling is your worst way to go; standard punch-kick and running attacks do more damage, and hitting the enemy with whatever items are lying around the ring even more. Confirming the horrid engine is the fact that there are no "moves" to speak of: every "wrestler" has the standard number of attacks like the Irish Whip, a few slams, a few throws, a submission or two... and they're all on the same buttons. Once you've mastered one wrestler, you know the entire game's mechanics.

Whatever level you set the AI to, rest assured it'll be set on "cheese" in any match. The favored tactic of the AI isn't to mix things up, but rather to throw the same few attacks over and over, especially if you're unfortunate enough to be knocked down. Difficult AI, as I've seen in some WWE titles, I don't mind; difficult but boring, I do.

The final insult to whoever buys this game is that the only gameplay modes available are career and exhibition. That's right, that's all you get. Career mode is just silly, though it's a step up from the old "talk show" mode of the first one. Other than that, the only other option is repetitive exhibition matches, either with friends or against the computer.

Unless you're a sucker for punishment or just absolutely have to have everything with the Backyard Wrestling name on it, steer clear of this one.


Added:  Friday, December 24, 2004
Reviewer:  Mike Ahlf
Score:
Page: 2/3

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