Legends of Wrestling II – GC – Review

Honestly folks, my first
impression when I opened Legends of Wrestling II was “Oh great … another below
average wrestling game for the Gamecube”. Now, this first impression was not
because I had played it yet, it was simply due to the fact that I didn’t really
care for the first one much, and all of the other WWE titles that I had played
lately were just not fun and way to glitch filled to be even remotely enjoyable
for me. Well, good friend of mine and a fellow gamer constantly kept pestering
me to try this one out, and I have to say that I’m glad that I did. It’s
definitely not perfect and it has its own problems, but I felt it was definitely
better than anything else I had played lately.


LOW II puts you in control
of one of wrestling’s best known and best loved champions as you progress
through a story mode or play one of the other various modes available. You can
do exhibition matches to sharpen your skills in a single bout, standard matches
to play against a buddy or the computer in a various assortment of match types,
3 and 4 way dances, a battle royal (think Royal Rumble), ladder matches, cage
matches, tag team matches, and the list goes on and on. There’s definitely no
shortage of ways to play here, and offers a good variety for whatever mood you
tend to be in at the time.


One thing that I have always
been a tad partial to is the “Create your Own Wrestler” mode. Well, LOW II has
this option in it as well, and it was OK. There are a variety of outfits, body
styles, and faces to choose from and use … and there are also some really neat
unlockable outfits like a reptile, a gladiators with armor, and even a blue clad
superhero which reminded me of The Flash. The move list can be altered and built
as you see fit, but you can also select a pre-set move list based off your
favorite wrestling legend since it can get a little time consuming. It’s not as
detailed nor does it contain as many options as some previous titles … but it’s
better than a lot that I’ve seen also.  


The story mode for LOW II
was really creative, even if a little bit off base. It will have you traveling
to one of five different regions and participating in a random story generated
by a press of the A button while a square moves around on some numbers. What I
mean by off base is that one story has you meeting with a Mafia style member who
tells you that he is looking for some good talent and his wrestlers keep “no
showing” to matches, then threatens you with “If you lose too much, you may turn
up missing also if you get my meaning”. On the other hand, you play through a
more normal adventure like “I’m having you team up with Rocky Johnson and will
put you in some singles matches, but you’d better win those tag matches!” It’s
pretty neat, and a great idea, but then you are playing through a series of
matches entitled “The Missing Jobbers” or “Rival Tag Teams”. Geez, I feel like
I’m undercover in a Scooby Doo mystery or something. Oh well, if Undertaker can
shoot lightning and HHH can get away with kidnapping, why not? It definitely
earns some creativity points from me.


The control setup to LOW II
is a little weird, and could be considered clunky to some of you wrestling fans
out there. The A button will strike, B blocks, counters, or performs an ISP
maneuver (I will discuss that shortly), X will grapple, and Y performs an attack
or starts a grapple when you have the opponent in a tie up or grapple hold and
begins ISP moves. Holding the control pad in a certain direction and pressing
the same buttons will have different effects, like holding up and A will perform
a harder hit or holding left and Y will perform your assigned attack 2 feature
rather than 1. Since the game is not as arcade style or fast as some others,
this is where it can feel a little cumbersome at times.


Let’s discuss those ISP’s
for a minute since they play a big part of the game. ISP’s technically are
linked combo moves that you can perform with a press of the B button. Whenever a
certain attack move is used, say a suplex for example, a meter will appear at
the top of the screen with a moving bar. Hit the B button at the right time when
the bar is highlighted yellow and it will link an additional move onto the
action. With the example above, it can cause your character to perform the
suplex and then hop on top of your opponent for a pin. It also comes into play
when countering a move, since each time your opponent uses one of their attacks
the meter reappears again. Hitting B at the right time there will cause your
wrestler to counter the move, and may link an additional hit or slam onto your
counter as well.


The ISP was a pretty good
idea, but I soon found that there are some errors to be found. First off,
hitting another button at any time when the ISP meter shows up seems to cancel
your ability to perform the move. Basically, if I am tapping A trying to perform
a strike and Tito Santana decides he wants to grab me and back drop me, the
meter pops up out of nowhere. Since I was already hitting A, the B button won’t
work to counter the move now. I think that this is the case because the B button
icon flashed at the right time saying that I hit it OK, but then nothing
happened, so either other button presses mess it up or else it just doesn’t work
some of the time. Either way it can get a little annoying.


The second problem with the
ISP is the accuracy part. Sometimes it will move really slow, other times it
speeds by. There is a memorization aspect to knowing when it will pop up when
you perform one of your moves; the problem is that you don’t know when it will
happen with your opponent. Granted, it would be too easy if you did, and it’s
not too bad in a two player game, but the computer of course has almost perfect
timing 90% of the time. Even with the adjustable difficulty, it seems like AI
opponents can miraculously make a comeback when their energy gets really low and
may cause some lost matches that you really don’t feel should have been your
loss … if you catch my drift. 


One neat thing that Akklaim
did here was in the way that a lot of unlockable material is obtained. When you
play through story mode, you earn green coins. Each unlockable wrestler, arena,
outfit, style, and cheat will have a price tag enabling you to purchase them.
Most require a number of blue and red coins though, which are not earned through
winning matches, so you have to gamble your green coins to get those. When you
select “gamble”, you are taken to a grid with a bunch of skulls. You turn in …
say 5 green coins for a red coin … then put the red coin on one of the slots in
the grid. Each square will light up randomly, and you have to hit the A button
at the right time to get possession of the blue or red coin. After doing this a
bunch of times, you will be able to add such big stars as Abdullah the Butcher,
Bobby the Brain Heenan, and even Mr. Intergender Champion himself, Andy


Graphically, LOW II wasn’t
too bad overall. The animations were a little stiff and lacked lighting effects,
but had some pretty good facial looks and the body styles were detailed. The
moves were fluid for the most part, and big moves would get this “Matrix” style
camera spin to set you up for what was about to take place. The crowd was the
typical 2-D, flat crowd that cheers and waves their arms for everything …
regardless of what is taking place or who’s winning. The entrances were cool,
complete with original movements and fireworks, and some characters will even
have their original gimmicks, like Koko B. Ware and Frankie the parrot.


The action in the ring is
set to tunes from artists like Saliva, so while you are beating the you know
what out of friends or the computer, you get to do so to some heavy rock sounds.
There are no announcers, which history has shown us isn’t necessarily bad, but
the crowd doesn’t seem to have much reaction to anything positive or negative.
The cheering just sort of goes up and down in waves.


Overall, this has been one
long review and this game has a lot to offer the die hard wrestling fan. As I
stated up front, I enjoyed this one a heck of a lot more than other recent
titles that I have played, even with some issues that kept it from being
perfect. Due to the slower paced action, I would recommend this to people like
me who were big fans of WWF Warzone back in the day, and don’t care as much for
the faster, arcade style gameplay from Jakks Pacific. Overall, people who want
to re – live some of the matches that they grew up with back in the 80’s will
get more for the money than others, and will probably enjoy this. If you are
more of a modern wrestling fan, I would recommend a rental prior to purchasing.
I definitely applaud Akklaim for trying to bring something new to a genre that
has been repetitive as of late for us gamers.


Gameplay: 6.9
The controls are
pretty easy to pick up and get into, and there are a bunch of different modes to
choose from and play with and characters, etc to unlock to help expand the
longevity. The action is faster that the original, but slower than titles like
Smackdown on PS2, and may be a little bit too slow for some of you wrestling
fans. There are some collision detection issues here and there, like having to
hit the grapple button twice or striking an opponent when you don’t seem to be
close enough. The ISP function was pretty neat, but didn’t seem to work if you
had already hit a button when the meter pops up and in multiplayer can result in
some matches that will result in tons of counter moves.


Graphics: 7.2 
Not too bad, but
the movements in the ring seemed a little stiff while the wrestling moves seemed
more fluid. The crowd is the 2-D type that isn’t the worst thing on the planet,
and they seem to frequent just about every game that revolves around sports
these days. There is a good selection of outfits and some cool unlockable ones,
and the detail on the wrestlers themselves was pretty decent. The wrestlers will
show damage on their face as they get beat up or bloody, but the blood looks
like confetti since it randomly sprinkles around the ring and is more silly than


Sound: 7.1
The in ring
sounds aren’t bad, but the crowd doesn’t seem to get too excited about much of
anything since cheering is almost all of the time and just sort of gets a little
louder or softer here and there. There are no announcers, which isn’t really bad
since they can tend to muck things up more than add to them, and the game has a
cool rock soundtrack by real bands.


Difficulty: Medium 
The difficulty
can be adjusted from Jobber to Legend, and will get tougher as you keep moving
it up. The AI seems to be all intelligent after their energy gets down to a
certain point, and many times will make some pretty miraculous and annoying
comebacks which can get frustrating.


Concept: 7.3 
It is definitely
an improvement on the original, and while it’s not perfect … Akklaim really
tried to give us something a little different in a genre that has been done a
whole lot. The gambling mode was a cool idea, and the ISP moves, despite their
flaws, were good ideas as well. A couple of tweaks on the next one and they may
have a winner.


Multiplayer: 7.2
This is more
where the fun of the game is going to come in since us humans (unlike the
computer) aren’t perfect. LOW II provides support for up to four people at once
to play, so don’t hit your little brother for real … just hand him a controller
and hit him with a virtual chair!


Overall: 6.9
Well, I don’t
really know what else to say here, since my novel I wrote covers just about
everything you need to know. Ultimately, you die-hard wrestling fans that have
been around since the 80’s like me will get the most enjoyment out of this game,
and more modern fans may get a kick out of it as well. For those of you who just
recently started tuning into WWE, you may want to rent it prior to making the
final purchase.