reviews\ Dec 15, 2002 at 7:00 pm

Legends of Wrestling II - XB - Review

There was a time when wrestling featured some pretty flamboyant characters that just seemed extremely too odd--and occasionally way too outrageous-- in comparison to today’s wrestling superstars, but there was no denying that these grapplers from the past were at least memorable.  Who can forget George “The Animal” Steel and the way he chewed on the turnbuckle before laying the smack on another wrestler?  Who can forget the tag team duo of the Road Warriors with their armor and mohawks?   Once again, Legends of Wresting II allows you to take to the ring with these unusual yet entertaining personalities.


The previous installment featured a nice collection of wrestling favorites but unfortunately was just too flawed a game.  The lineup in this sequel, though, features even more legends which now include Andre the Giant, Rowdy Roddy Piper, Bruno Sammartino and the pain in Jerry “The King” Lawler’s side--comedian Andy Kaufman.  There are just so many wrestlers and tag team pairs that fans of wrestling won’t help but reflective on the good old days of this sport.


There is also plenty of modes to wrestle in and many ranges from standard matches to a three or four way dance (a four way dance will have four wrestlers in the ring at once).  Of course, there are also specialty matches such as the Cage (battle out of a steel cage) or Ladder (where a wrestler battles it out to climb the ladder and grab the prize).  There is also Tag Team matches where you can choose from regular matches to an eight-man tag team match (two four man tag teams).  You can also Tournament mode where you play through a tough elimination-style challenge complete with standard matches or tag team matches.


The game’s main mode is its Career mode that has been improved since the last game and has a bit more emphasis on story since there are more scenarios than before.  You basically take any of the wrestlers in the lineup or any wrestler you might have created in the Create A Legend mode and take them through an entire career from fighting beginning grapplers to going up against the superstars.  Your promoter sets up the fights and takes you from region to region.  Your main goal really is to make your promoter happy and create enough buzz to make you a fan favorite.


While these changes are minor yet welcome, not much has been done to the controls.  In fact, the game feels exactly like the first game, which is really unfortunate.  The game still relies on button mashing, especially when it comes to pins, waking from a stunned daze or reversing a move.  Grappling has become easier but the moves are still somewhat awkward to execute successfully (and just forget trying to pull find out how to execute a superstar’s specialty move).  To the game’s credit, it made a good attempt to bring things like turnbuckle moves and taking the fight outside the ring.


And now for the really bad news, the game’s visuals have not changed much at all since the last game . . . a disappointment for sure since the wrestlers looks downright strange-looking.  Take the game’s star, Hulk Hogan, his huge chest was never really that huge and there’s an unnatural gleam to his skin that makes him (and the other wrestlers) look plastic.  Their movements, especially their taunts, are dead-on though.  And now they sprinkle the mat with their blood and their faces can bruise.  Meanwhile, the arenas are still not so impressive to look at and neither is the crowd.


The sound does liven things up a little bit since the arena sounds are just bursting at the seams with plenty of details.  Since the crowds have their favorites, they cheer louder when that particular wrestler pulls off amazing feats or pin moves.  The ring announcer’s voice booms as he introduces a wrestler and the excited manager in Career mode is pretty lively.  The wrestlers even have their own theme music, which will seem familiar to those who recognize them.


Not a vast improvement, Legends of Wrestling II just doesn’t cut it as a classic wrestling title fans can really get into.  You can blame the game’s various flaws, poor visuals and lack of polish for bringing a game that doesn’t really separate itself from the game’s flawed beginnings.


#Reviewer's Scoring Details


Gameplay: 6.8
Say what you will about the just plain awful WWF Raw game, it’s pacing was fast and the moves just seemed to really come off without much of a holdup . . . unfortunately the same cannot be said about Legends II.  Blocking, reversals and grappling is still a bit awkward since the game’s first outing, but now the various meters don’t make things too burdensome.  The wrestlers also lack a certain style of their own and doesn’t faithfully replicate their individual specialty moves as well as it should.


There are plenty of match types, though, and a steel cage match that’s just too good to be true.  And while the “dances” are not bad at all, the various tag team match types (five in total, folks) is where the game truly shines . . . especially if you’re playing this with a group of friends.


Graphics: 6.0
Personally I have a problem with the way the legends are rendered and part of the problem is that their appearance is actually quite surreally artificial.  Their bodies are unnaturally bulky even for the more bulky grappler and the expressionless faces and awkward movements just add more to the unreal factor. The only good thing about them is that they do mimic their actual counterparts wonderfully and they bruise up nicely during the fights.


The arenas are also not among the best looking and gamers will surely notice the blandness that is the crowd in attendance (they don‘t all seem to be focusing their attention on the arena‘s ring, which gamers will see if they take the fight out of the ring).  The lighting in the arena is done well, but there is still a sterile feel to everything including the big screen in the back.


Sound: 6.2
The arena is alive with sound and it does a great job of representing what a live match is really like.  The audience comes to life when their favorite wrestler is playing to the crowds or beat the tar out of an opponent.  The announcer is also exactly what you might expect in an event like this and calls out the wrestler’s names (including your own creation).


Musically, the game is accurate when it comes to each wrestler’s introduction, although the addition of a Saliva song is baffling (why not just keep it only in the game’s main menu intro?).  Still, you’ll be surprised how vast the library of tunes is in this game.


Difficulty: Medium
The CPU controlled opponents can put up quite a challenge; unfortunately they weren’t programmed with an individual style of their own.  You’ll notice that Andre the Giant is unrealistically swift and can get up pretty quickly (if you’ve seen him wrestle in real life, the guy hardly ever did anything swiftly).  And some of the more outrageous wrestlers that were known for their speed and not their strength are powerful grapplers here.  


Concept: 7.0
With just a few additions, including a better lineup, gamers will have trouble distinguishing this game from the first one.  Still, it’s nice to find that there are additions such as more parts for the Create A Legend option (you can make a really bizarre-looking wrestler with the new parts available).  Plus you can earn cheats that offer anything from new wrestlers, new arenas and extra parts for your own wrestling creations.


Multiplayer: 8.0
Multiplayer fun at its most silly and satisfying, Legends II allows anywhere from up to four players to wrestle one another at the same time in practically any mode.  Gamers can set up their own tag team matches or take on several wrestlers in a Battle Royal.


Overall: 6.5
While the game does showcase slight improvements, Legends of Wresting II doesn’t really bring anything new to the table that will blow gamers and wrestling fans away.   With a strong lineup of past wrestling legends of yesteryear and a great multiplayer selection, this is a game worthy of a rental.  As for the true wrestling fans, do yourself a favor and stay away from this one.

Above Average

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