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
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.
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
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.
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 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.
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
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
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
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 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.
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.