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Game Profile
FINAL SCORES
6.5
Visuals
6.0
Audio
6.5
Gameplay
6.0
Features
7.0
Replay
7.0
INFO BOX
PLATFORM:
Xbox
PUBLISHER:
Acclaim
DEVELOPER:
Acclaim Salt Lake City
GENRE: Wrestling
PLAYERS:   1-4
RELEASE DATE:
December 04, 2002
ESRB RATING:
Teen
IN THE SERIES
Showdown: Legends of Wrestling

Showdown: Legends of Wrestling

Legends of Wrestling II

Legends of Wrestling II

Legends of Wrestling II

More in this Series
 Written by Ryan Smotherman  on January 13, 2003

Full Review: There's still too much emphasis on the gimmick and not enough on the rest.


Acclaim's young, yet fairly popular wrestling franchise, Legends of Wrestling, is based off a relatively simple concept ? that is, placing classic superstars from wrestling's past and present into a fast, over-the-top arcade style gameplay system where they can duke it out in match-ups never thought possible. The only problem here is that while the second installment into the franchise, Legends of Wrestling II, is in fact a better overall product when compared to it's predecessor, it's still not all that great, and will probably only be enjoyed by those hard-core wrestling fanatics who look up to wrestling legends like Hulk Hogan as God almighty.

In getting right to the most positive aspect of LoW II, by and large the game's biggest asset are the legends that make up the game's massive roster. I'm talking about the current stars like the aforementioned Hulk Hogan, Eddie Guerrero, and Scott Steiner, to classic characters like Andre the Giant, Jerry ?The King? Lawler, Brett ?The Hitman? Hart, and a ton of others, as well as a majority of stars I've never even heard of before. All in all, there are a good 65 wrestlers to deal with here, each offering their own unique, albeit unimpressive, ring entrances, costumes, and finishing moves. Not all are available from the get go however; as many must be unlocked as you progress throughout the game's fairly robust career mode.

LoW II's career mode is actually set up decently, if nothing spectacular. You'll take either one of the selectable superstars or a created legend of your own down the long and fulfilling road of a ?professional? wrestler. You start out by selecting from one out of the five regions in the U.S., each which has it's own unique promoter that will update you on your status as you proceed throughout the various matches. Starting off as a no name, you'll first begin your hill climb in small, poorly attended, gymnasiums, but as you progress you'll eventually find yourself in auditoriums and massive arenas, battling the biggest stars in the biz. Points are awarded in these matches based on how well you perform in the ring. Mixing up different techniques, busting the opposition wide open, using weapons to clobber them, and doing your finishing move all get the crowd psyched up, which is measured by a meter on the screen. The better you perform, the more points you get that increase you're popularity, in turn, allowing you to advance through the ranks. Overall, the career mode is pulled off pretty well, and going through all the regions and international fights in a quest to obtain the World Championship is a rather lengthy process that any would be wrestling fan should enjoy taking on. Not to mention the fact that it ups the title's replay value immensely.

However, the game's actual gameplay is where things aren't so great. It's not that it's bad; it just brings absolutely nothing new to the table. Each character has a few different strikes, throws, and a finishing move that can be performing once a special bar is full and glowing ? umm? when hasn't a wrestling game had all this? The developers have obviously shown no attempt to build on the standard wrestling system we've seen over the past few years, and while at times it does have it's moments, I can only see old school wrestling fans having the dedication to stick with the game for any substantial amount of time. Adding further insult to injury, the match variations aren't really all that impressive either. You have your standard matches like one-on-one, 3 and 4 way Dances, and tag team matches, with the only real gimmick bouts being Battle Royal (a.k.a.- Royal Rumble), Ladder, and Cage matches. Anyone who played WWF Raw knows that a lack of match types can really hurt a wrestling game, especially if the gameplay isn't up to par.

Like any good wrestler though, LoW II does have a very nice create a wrestler mode, or Create a Legend as they call it, complete with a plethora of ways to modify your own unique fighter. The only real flaw in it is the fact that you can't really modify a ring intro. This isn't that big of a deal, especially since a lot of time wasn't put into them in the first place, but they could have at least included the option to use your own soundtrack from the Xbox hard drive, that considering that the game supports use of custom soundtracks during gameplay. LoW II has its fair share of unlockable extras as well, which you are able to purchase with earned points in The Shop. Here you'll find new wrestlers and arenas, extra moves for characters, cheat codes, and many more. Lastly, there's a Theater section located from the title screen that let's you check out all kinds of wrestler related videos, from interviews to classic footage. All in all, Acclaim did a good job including a bunch of additional content, which is sure to please the kids.

From a visual standpoint, LoW II uses the same graphical style found in the original, and to me, it's just not all that appealing. The wrestlers' unrealistic, cheesy look is a big turn off to myself, and really doesn't measure up very well on the Xbox platform. On top of that, the arenas you brawl in are fairly sub-standard, complete with an unrealistic crowd that's composed of flat, 2D sprites (come on now, how often do we see sprites on the Xbox?) If there's any good news to be found, it's in the fact that the wrestlers do resemble their real life counterparts, as they should, and there's a good deal of blood to go around, which is always good. Unfortunately, the audio falls into this flawed category as well; with average sound effects and a soundtrack that has it's ups and downs ? the music included that plays while you fight can be pretty rocking, but the tunes you hear on the title and menu screens are highly annoying. As mentioned, the game does support custom tracks during fights, which is a huge plus.

Bottom Line
Legends of Wrestling II is an average wrestling title at best, but one that definitely gives old school wrestling nuts more than enough incentive to check it out ? can you say over 60 classic wrestlers and tons of extras? Personally, I wanted to like it more, but the gameplay, match variations, and visual/audio presentation just plain fail to impress. Hopefully they will get things right with the release of Legends of Wrestling III, but for now the series obviously has a long way to go to perfection.


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