Review: "Warning! Warning! Crappy games may be closer than they appear!"
Let's get to it, people: Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighborhood is an awful game. While not the absolute worst sin against mankind, the game is definitely ?bowling shoe ugly.? In fact, I'd suggest either watching paint dry or jamming a No. 2 pencil into your eardrum as superior forms of entertainment.
What makes a game stink as bad as this one? What are the building blocks to making a truly crappy game? Well, obviously you need a developer/publisher duo that has no compunction about releasing some sort of bastard child successor to an already bad wrestling game franchise. Next, the two companies have to do essentially nothing to try and improve the game over its weak predecessor, save adding a few one-look gimmick features or new (but still bad) characters. Honestly, about the only thing done right by these two companies (and which saved the rating for this game from being even lower) was to make the price tag only $19.99USD. Even so, your 20 spot would be better spent on many other value-priced titles that are vastly superior to this eye sore.
With Backyard Wrestling 2, Eidos and Paradox Dev are (again) trying to cash in on the extremely niche backyard wrestling craze that, while still going in pockets, was much more relevant, say, 5 or 6 years ago. Straddling the line between fighter and wrestler, Backyard Wrestling 2 pits a random assortment of characters up against each other in 1-on-1 battles in unconventional locations. The gimmick is that you can use fighting game strikes, wrestling grapples, weapon combat, and environmental attacks to lay waste to your opponents. On paper, it sounds as if the game could actually provide a reasonable experience, even if some of these combat elements worked out. However, none of these components are particularly good and the matches all end up being a tedious mishmash of poor collision detection, constant countering, lame weapon attacks and unpolished wrestling elements.
Sure, you can throw people into fences or trailers in the ?Backyard? arena or you can crash through a small city at the mini golf course, but after that small bit of appeal wears off, you're left with a game that shows its true lack of playability. Some of the (many) problems include: punches that don't connect half the time, counters to grapples seem to happen far too often and far too randomly, brutal character animations for walking and transitioning, and some hideously unresponsive controls. There's often quite a delay between animations and moves and this really shows itself during dash attacks or combo strikes. You'll also see characters glitching off of high places if they just walk off the side, and this just really shows how rushed and poorly thought out this game is. As said, the weapon combat is kind of fun for a little bit, but it just results in hitting people with a piece of wood over and over again; the objects really don't differ all that much and most environmental breakage looks and feels the same. Honestly, it's hard to actually describe how poorly this game plays without visuals, but just think of two wooden marionettes floating around at top speed slapping each other awkwardly, occasionally grunting and falling through walls walls and objects that all look like balsa wood.
You may have wondered why I didn't talk about who you could play as in this game sooner, well, the playable brawlers don't really command too much attention so only briefly acknowledging them is all that's necessary. You have a various assortment of independent and backyard ?stars? like Vampiro and New Jack, then you have adult film actresses Sunrise Adams and Tera Patrick, and finally there's the ICP (Insane Clown Posse) ? yeah, what a crew. On top of this odd compilation of misfits for a roster, the game doesn't even do a good job of representing them. Many of these characters who I had seen before look nothing like they do in real life and it seems that the developer either wasn't able to use likenesses or didn't know how.
The presentation in general is pretty bad, with the sound only managing to be passable and the graphics looking fairly pathetic. The only positives in audio are the inclusion of some licensed songs and custom soundtrack support, but the bits and pieces of sound effects and voice acting in the game are downright bad, complete with half-baked lip-synching. The characters, as said above, look bad and don't portray any real emotion, hence them being marionettes. The animation is totally jerky and doesn't provide any smoothness to the transitions throughout the environments or between combatants. The locales themselves have an assortment of objects within, but all objects break the same way and the levels are somewhat small. No Dolby Digital support or 480p are two more strikes against this game, as well.
In terms of the ways you can play Backyard Wrestling 2, there isn't too much that hasn't been said already. You can play exhibition with 1 or 2 players (wow!) or brave the game's ?career mode.? Essentially, the career mode forces you to create a brawler with the game's extremely rudimentary creation system (you can't even add accessories for crying out loud; they have to be earned in the career mode) and take him/her through the backyard circuit to try and compete at the $1 million pay-per-view. There are a few cutscenes that actually attempt to tie this together, but you'll likely be too busy trying to give this game away to your friends rather than actually watch the ?story.? The career mode isn't totally bad, as you can shop for those accessories that you can't access from the start, and bonus material as well.
In fact, about the only minor redeeming quality of this game is actually the bit of bonus footage and music videos included on the disc. There's about 20 or so minutes of footage of some great (real) backyard and independent wrestling, in music video form, that actually makes you think there could've been an OK game here, had the developers not combined Tag Team wrestling on the NES with the Beta version of Virtua Fighter. Each character also has a small video montage, but the only ones worth looking at (for guys) are Tera Patrick and Sunrise Adams. =)
When you break it all down, this game is all broken down, period. With the controls being unresponsive, the game looking and sounding sub par, the characters being totally random and uninspired, the selection of game types being pathetic, the weapon combat losing its appeal (almost) immediately, and the combat in general being awful, you just can't get out of first gear with this game. Bury this franchise; bury it in a deep, deep hole.