STAFF REVIEW of Legends of Wrestling 2 (Xbox)

Monday, January 27, 2003.
by kitt

Legends of Wrestling 2 Box art Legends of Wrestling 2 brings you back to the glory days of wrestling as you step up to some of the best in the business including new additions Andre the Giant, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Big John Studd and many more. This game is obviously geared towards the long time wrestling fan with a line-up of over 60 (20+ more then the original) legendary characters and bonus DVD content of the Legends themselves. For some this will be just another wrestling game, while for others it will serve as a trip down memory lane. Playing this game I had the feeling something just wasn?t right and I couldn?t put my finger on it until I finally figured it out after playing Legends of Wrestling 1. The original was more colourful and cartoonish, which made sense because at wrestling?s peak in the 80?s there was an exorbitant amount of paraphernalia including toys, sticker albums, and even a Saturday morning cartoon. The sequel takes a completely opposite approach. It appears the developers have tried to transplant these Legends into a more modern wrestling environment. This is evidenced by the edger graphic design, harder soundtrack, flashier entrances and busty referees all of which I would expect out of a RAW game. For some this might work, but personally I think it takes away from the whole nostalgia thing they have going on. With added features, improved gameplay, graphics and sound, I would rate this game a buy, especially if you remember a lot of the old school wrestlers. All and all a good fun game with some excellent replay value.

Besides the graphics, gameplay is one of the most noticeable differences of this title over the original. With an improved button configuration, landing a Superfly Leap or Bundy Splash has never been easier. The controls are also more responsive resulting in faster gameplay. Starting off, the controls are a bit complex, but after a few matches you will master the basics. The main maneuvers are a body strike, attack move, grapple, and a block. Once established in a grapple your move options are increased as each of the main buttons and triggers will result in additional moves. Further moves are also based on where the action is situated and your opponent?s status. Combos and reversals are easier then ever since the moving meter system used to execute these moves has been updated and is easier to see. In addition to the basic versus and tag team modes, Legends of Wrestling 2 now features steel cage, ladder, battle royal and additional tag team matches. This game also features enhanced career and custom wrestler options. In career mode your Legend or custom wrestler travels through various geographical regions as you fight your way to the top and international glory. Each region has a unique storyline, which changes each time you play. Even though the storylines are not that compelling and the cinematic scenes are not the best, it?s a unique feature that enhances the longevity of the game. Win matches to earn coins, which allow you to purchase additional content such as locked Legends and managers. You can even gamble your coins to earn even more coins.

Gone are the shinny plastic looking Legends from the original, which have been replaced by bigger, better looking models. The new character models are much more realistic looking with improved shadowing, facial and muscle detail. The ringside crowd has also gotten a little more three-dimensional, while the fans in the stands are still very flat looking. When wrestling outside the ring near the barriers, the camera can actually get stuck behind certain parts of a very flat looking crowd for a brief period of time. The animation is a lot more fluid and not so jerky, a problem that plagued the original. Blood, blood and more of it. Crack someone in the nose and you?ll see the blood sputter to the canvas. A grueling match can result in a pretty red looking wrestling ring. As mentioned before ring entrances have become much more dramatic with the Legends showboating around providing their signature posses accompanied with fireworks and a lot more flash. Camera angles have also been improved which reduces the chance of getting lost off the screen, which was a problem in the original. With multiple wrestlers in the ring this can be a different story especially if you are wrestling at the back of the ring and the camera is trying to keep everyone in frame. In this situation it is sometimes hard to see what?s going on. The developers have thankfully kept the Matrix-like dramatic pauses during the match, which will occur if a wrestler has executed an outstanding move. The action is paused while the camera seamlessly does a 360 around the wrestlers.

Load up your custom sound track as you beat Andy Kaufman into a bloody pulp all in Dolby Digital if you have the capability. The included soundtrack has been changed drastically from the original. This title features a harder sounding soundtrack with songs from some established bands. Overall sound effects have been improved in this game, including wrestler sound effects that are a lot better then the same old grunts from the first. A garbage can on the head, sounds like a garbage can on the head. The crowd effects have also been improved resulting in a livelier crowd. Each wrestler in this game is accompanied by their signature theme music, even though they are not as authentic as I would like them to be they are still an improvement. Something noticeably missing from this game is the absence of the capability to add your own entrance music for your customized wrestler. With regards to this aspect of the game, the developers have taken a step backwards.

Bringing back the classic red, white and blue ring ropes would be a nice touch, and improvement on the controller vibration variation would help. A leap off the turnbuckle should produce a lot more rumble then a slap on the chest. Definitely missing some key players from the line up (which I would expect a few to make appearances in part 3). I?m talking Jesse ?The Body? Ventura, JYD, Hillbilly Jim, Jake ?The Snake?, Warrior, Macho Man and of course the lovely Elizabeth. I would even consider adding commentators into the mix. Who could forget Mean Gene Oakland? Additional authentic entrance music would be a bonus as well (i.e. Hogan?s ?I am a Real American?).

Overall: 8.0 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 8.0 / 10
Sound: 7.0 / 10


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