Review by striker64
Reviewed: 03/14/03 | Updated: 03/14/03
A great old-school wrestling game, but by no means a classic.
I’ve always been a fan of old school wrestling, so perhaps my opinion is somewhat biased in this manner. However, from the start I can tell you that Legends of Wrestling 2 is a good game with a lot of problems, many of which lie in the Create – A – Legend mode and the actual gameplay in reference to some of the wrestlers. More on that later.
First, Acclaim set out to make a wrestling game that combined all of the older, retired wrestlers from various federations into one place. They did an excellent job on character selection, although most of the wrestlers are still just past WWF/WWE superstars. Included on the roster are Hulk Hogan, Andre the Giant, Big John Studd, the British Bulldog Davey Boy Smith, Owen Hart, Bret “Hitman” Hart, Koko B. Ware, Harley Race, and the Road Warriors Animal and Hawk, among others. Admittedly, some of the wrestlers in here probably aren’t legends, such as the Nasty Boys and Big Poppa Pump Scott Steiner, but it really came down to who Acclaim could get in the game and who would make them money in the end. The roster is good, but it could have been better. I’ve been hoping for Jake “the Snake” Roberts and Demolition since the first game was announced, and alas, still no luck.
The main goal of the game is to take your wrestler through Career Mode. This was very well done. The United States is split up into 5 regions and your wrestler must compete in and win the title belt for that region in each one and defend it once before moving onto the rest, just like in the older days of wrestling. There are now storylines to mix up the interest in the regions, but for the most part every storyline is like this: the promoter is not impressed with your past achievements and you must therefore prove you can handle that region’s superstars by defeating local talent (ie, jobbers), then the region’s champion hears about you after you’re booked in bigger matches and interferes in most (if not all) of your matches. It’s pretty neat that they actually bothered to put in jobbers, and it would be even cooler if they would have put in more famous jobbers, like Barry Horrowitz and the Brooklyn Brawler. But oh well. After you win the final region belt, you combine the 5 belts to form the US title. Your wrestler defends that once and moves onto the world circuit, where you compete to become the World Champion. No jobbers there, but there are still storylines, and they are still pretty much the same as the regional storylines.
The actual wrestling gameplay is good, but it still has a lot of problems. On the plus side, Cage Match, Ladder Match, Battle Royal, 3- and 4-way tags, 6 man tags, and 8 man tags have been added for your enjoyment. These add nicely to the gameplay and help increase the replay value of the game, especially those 4-way and 8 man tags... those can get insane. However, as I stated there are plenty of problems within the game itself with the wrestling. You’ll probably find this complaint across the board with all of the reviews you read. The bigger wrestlers dash like an Olympic sprinter... there goes King Kong Bundy in the 5k race now. Wrestlers like Andre the Giant and Big John Studd should NOT be climbing the turnbuckles for an ariel attack. Big John Studd’s strikes should be very slow and very powerful, and always on the mark. He shouldn’t be dashing around the ring, heck he really shouldn’t be running at all. A Scoop Slam should be about as technical as he gets, but here he is using Reverse Powerbombs and such. Speaking of Big John Studd, the Body Slam Match was added in Career Mode in his honor. Want to know how that goes? You hit the A button a whole bunch and struggle to slam him, then if you do you go on to wrestle a match with him, where you can slam him or suplex him with ease. Does anyone remember the actual Body Slam match from Wrestlemania I? Andre, a strong man, had 15 minutes to slam Studd, and he had to wear him down before he could do it. Here, Bret Hart can slam Studd in less than 15 seconds. Weight detection was obviously left out of this game, and it looks stupid when Jimmy Hart can Powerbomb King Kong Bundy like Bundy were a feather. At least make your wrestler have to wear down the opponent before he can slam them... heck even Hulk Hogan, who body slammed Andre the Giant, had to wear him down before he could do it effectively. Also, every wrestler seems to climb the ropes at the same speed, for example, the One Man Gang jumps up there as fast as the Dynamite Kid. As I stated before, wrestlers like Andre and the Gang have no business being up there in the first place, because they didn’t climb the ropes. Larger wrestlers should at least climb up there very slowly. And who decided what wrestlers would use what finishers? Bruno Sammartino used the Canadian Backbreaker... Bam Bam Bigelow used the Kamikaze Headbutt from the top rope, not this Asbury Park Slam thingy... and Big Jon Studd’s finisher, to my knowledge, was not a Heart Punch. A lot of wrestlers also have moves in this game that they never would have used, for example, has anyone ever seen Big John Studd do the Last Ride? I have, in this game.
The graphics and sound made a huge improvement over the first title. During the matches before, everything would move slowly, but that has all been smoothed out unless there are a lot of wrestlers on screen at one time, which is understandable. The background music now consists of actual songs that fit the wrestling atmosphere nicely, but you’ll still get sick of hearing them after a while. The entrances fall in with both of these... they are incredible. A lot more detail was done for the entrances, and many of the entrance themes are very close to what the wrestlers actually used (eg. “Superfly” Jimmy Snuka and Tito Santana while he was part of Strike Force are both VERY well done), but then again many of them still are not. Each wrestler also has four different costumes instead of two – this allows for more diversity and some unexpected costumes, like Hulk Hogan’s white trunks from his amateur days or Andre’s red trunks blue boots from his early days.
The control hasn’t changed much from the previous title – you still use the Intermediate Start Position grappling system. Although this gets complicated, it allows for many more moves to be added into the game. However, I know that Acclaim was trying to make a wrestling game that didn’t focus so much on grappling, but they failed – 75% of every wrestler’s moves are done from a grapple anyway. You also can no longer push your wrestler away while in a grapple (this could be done by tapping the L button in the previous title) or put a groggy opponent’s head down or pull it back up. Other than that, the control is the same.
And now, my biggest gripe about the game (yes, I still have some griping left to do, believe it or not), comes with the Create – A – Legend mode, called the CAL for short. Everyone was hoping that this would get better from the first game, but believe it or not, it got worse. In the first titles, the Playstation 2 and Xbox versions had a create – a – stencil mode which allowed you to add much more detail to your wrestlers, while the GameCube version did not. This still was not added in Legends 2 for some reason. In the first game, players had the option of picking from about 30 or so different hairstyles and could increase or decrease the size of each individual body part – in Legends 2, there are 10 different hairstyles (and no ponytail! Why?) and you can no longer change the size of individual body parts. This is frustrating when I’m trying to make a wrestler like Dino Bravo, who was somewhere between Average size and Muscle size and I’m forced to pick one or the other. Even more frustrating is the fact that the NONE option on each individual mode, eg. Facial Hair, Scalp Hair, Sleeveless Torso, etc. has been taken out for some weird reason. On the first game this allowed you to remove something that you didn’t want there. Now it’s gone. To get rid of Clothing, Body Art, or Entrance Gear, there is a separate option, but it removes all of it from a specific body part instead of just one piece. And now, there’s no option at all to remove scalp or facial hair, so you pretty much have to start all over again. Some positions with the moves have also been removed, specifically the Tree of Woe and Turnbuckle Sit positions, making your choice of moves that much less. There are entirely too few moves – very often if I’m creating more than one power wrestler (like the Barbarian and Hercules) I find myself giving them very similar movesets, simply because there are so few power moves offered for use, when they had very different moves. The Full Nelson was removed entirely for some strange reason. There is also still only 3 ISP (Intermediate Start Position, the name of the grappling system used in the game, too complicated to explain here) from the backside when there could easily be 4, and there are still only 3 Ready Strikes and Ready Moves when there could easily be 5. There needs to be more moves, and I think anyone that makes as many CALs as I do would agree with that. You’ll also notice that every wrestler MUST use the same types of moves – there are no longer different fighting styles to choose from. This means my created Yokozuna must climb the turnbuckles now – something he NEVER did except to use his Banzai Drop. He must also use a Plancha attack, something else he never did.
I think that’s all on the CAL mode.
A Shop Mode has been added into this game where you can gamble to purchase wrestlers. So not only must you still complete Career Mode with a certain wrestler to unlock him, you must gamble your green coins for blue and red coins so you can purchase him afterwards. You really unlock him for purchase in Shop mode. I don’t have a problem with Shop mode because it does allow the player to unlock whomever they want, but I do think having to gamble and still unlock them for purchase through Career Mode is a bit much.
I know I’ve done a LOT of ranting about this game. As much fun as this game is, the little things will still get to you, and that’s what I’ve ranted about. Overall the game is still a ton of fun to play and the overall replay value is a lot longer than that of its predecessor. If you’re looking for a fun game that features all of the wrestlers from the glory days of wrestling that you know and love, pick this one up.
Rating: 3.5 - Good
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