Some of you may have read my review of the predecessor of this game. The Legends of Wrestling concept was music to the ears of wrestling fans around the world, though somewhere between concept and execution an almighty bone was dropped and the first title was piss poor. The big question is, have the developers taken note of consumer and press criticism and made any improvements on the gaming experience that is LOW?
Legends of Wrestling 2 is a game that pits the old skool 'greats' of wrestling against each other. Wrestlers such as Bret Hart, Ted Dibiase, Hulk Hogan, Giant Haystacks (remember the guy who used to do the iffy British wrestling in Blackpool) and many more. From the outset the game looks dated, the front end of the game looks like a Mega drive or SNES wrestling game. This may have been done on purpose to give the game a classic look, but it really doesn't work for me. There are more gameplay options than the first game in the series, and more thought has gone into the different game modes available. Unfortunately, the game still has few modes compared to the WWE titles.
Graphically the game has been improved, the bulky models are more impressive due to increased details. Some of the animations surpass all of the other wrestling games currently available, they are smooth, well thought out and extremely realistic, unfortunately other animations in the game can be disappointing.
Now to the important part, how the game actually plays. I must say I was far more impressed with Legends of Wrestling 2 than with the first game. The game runs at a good pace, the moves feel natural and the system for reversing moves and for carrying out move combos feels quite natural. Unfortunately the game play is extremely flawed. Most of the moves in the game are based around ISP's. This means that you grapple a character and have a limited number of moves to carry out from this position. Most of the time it feels like you only have four or five moves at your disposal and you'll quickly get bored of your character. Once you start to carry out a move you will have a chance to turn it in to a combo and your opponent will have the chance to reverse the move. This done by a swinging bar, a pointer swings from one side of a bar to the other. Inside this bar is a coloured patch. The size of this patch depends on certain conditions, such as your characters abilities. If you push the correct button when the pointer is within this area you will be successful with your reversal/combo move. This does allow for some realistic exchanges to take place, and I must say that the results are far superior to anything I have ever seen with the WWE games. The excitement bar is still present, which does encourage you to vary your fighting style. Basically, the more varied your moves the more excitement is generated. For example, turnbuckle moves will generate a lot of excitement as will beating an opponent over the head with a 2 by 4 outside the ring, but keep doing the same move and your rating will come down. When doing exciting moves, such as a turnbuckle move, the game will go into matrix mode, as the camera swings round the seemingly floating wrestler. Nice touch, but it doesn't add too much to the game.
I rally enjoyed the sound track to the game, though obviously this will be a personal thing (I still see people winging about the Tony Hawk music on some forums). The little extras in the game are a worthy addition to the DVD, there are interviews with many of the wrestlers who are found in the game and it gives a good insight into what the life of a wrestler is really like.
Overall, the game has come along way in not very much time. Unfortunately (I seem to have used this word a lot during this review), the game still has a very long way to go until it outsells the WWE games.