Well, if Todd can review MGS2, I can review this.
If you’ve ever been to a JBI message board you’ll see ‘This game sucks!’ and ‘I love this game!’ posts. Opinion is very polarized. I can tell you right now the key to that: if your definition of a “good wrestling game” is a specific group of features which JBI happens to be weak in, then you’ll be declaring suckage.
For those of us with less discriminating tastes, this game is da bomb diggety, yo. Let’s dissect this mother.
Rasslin’: 8. A marked improvement from SD2, with less cheap running attacks, more range on grapples, and a sick amount of counters. You still get dominated cheaply from time to time, but rarely will the AI get more than 3-4 moves on you in a row before you can stage a comeback. Strikes are more useful and the number of moves has been jacked to the nines with lots of japanese moves and move variations. Most excellent. The speed is SLIGHTLY slower but don’t buy it being majorly slower; it’s still a little too fast and you can get swarmed easily.
Graphics: 8. Everything kicks incredible ass except for the bits that are really horrible. Hair isn’t THAT bad (but is still a bit awkward, especially in CAW), but body polys are low, textures aren’t too high res and other tiny bungles are really noticable amidst all the righteous parts. But, you get used to it after awhile.
Single Player Experience: 6. Okay, Story Mode is not that hot. There isn’t much variation and sitting through slow as hell cut scenes is a pain. But, once you get down to defending that title, trying out new guys, hammering on the mode to unlock more cards and such, it’s an acceptable time waster.
Multiplayer Experience: 9. Computer AI doesn’t give a rat’s ass about putting on a dramatically neat match, all it wants to do is beat you. But with your friends, you can do crazy stuff like set up two tables across the announce tables and a folding chair while balancing a ladder on top so you can do a Swanton from 20 feet up. If you have some buds who love wrestling games, you’ve just found your new heroin.
Create-a-Wrestler: 9. Oh. My. Freaking. GOD. The sheer amount of flexibility in the CAW system is nuts; the new layering approach allows for making your own logos, spelling out words, making your own shirt designs, and wilder yet stuff. The interface takes getting used to (especially for mashing the head into a shape you like) but it’s MOST excellent. And female wrestlers don’t look bizarre anymore! Combine this with the sheer amount of taunts, unlockable clone movesets (anybody who’s ever grappled on either side of the pacific is IN THE GAME, eek) and you have a helluva good time. I’ve spent hours and hours just making 100% perfect creations of Li Ping, The Great Yaga and Controversial Jack. Jack’s hair is in the game, yes. And Yaga’s Roaring Elbow is too! BUT ONE NOTE… you are going to want to hammer on Story Mode for awhile before you start CAWing. Not only does it let you unlock new moves and texture maps, but untill you unlock Card #12 (Extra CAW Ability Points) it’s not worth your while to make a CAW. You can’t apply those extra points retroactively. That’s what kept this from being a perfect 10.
Various Annoyances: 5. Saving your game (saving ANYTHING, really) takes almost a full minute. Seriously. Also, as mentioned, story mode cut scenes are slow, and the interfaces take some getting used to.
If you have no friends or don’t care about CAW and need a good story mode… Overall Score is 6. The game has some really great action, but it’s not going to be enough to cover your demanding needs. Now go play Fire Pro Wrestling, you whiny bitch.
If you’ve got pals to play with, adore CAW and just wanna have fun… Overall Score is 9. Let me put it this way: I’ve played for a total of 16 hours. Over two days. Yah. I think this one’s worth fifty bucks, fer sure.
Want some anecdotal evidence? Picture this:
…Yaga’s tossing Li around the ring like a rag doll. Each time Li counters something and tries to get leverage, Yaga grabs him for a nasty suplex or a slam. Finally, Yaga raises one hand to the sky, clutching his elbow as Li staggers around… signalling for the Roaring Elbow. A few quick strikes to prepare, then BAM, elbow to the jaw. Yaga pins!… but the ref wasn’t paying attention. He notices, dives in for — a TWO COUNT? Yaga freaks, and decides this wound to his pride is more important than the match. One full nelson slam to the referee later and he’s DQed.
…2 Cool 2k2, Dope G and DJ Karma, have a tag match. They show to the ‘Turn it up!’ theme, cruisin’ in a giant white caddy (chauffered, of course, while they lounge on the seats and enjoy the music). During the match, Dope G’s sunglasses and hat get knocked off by Hardcore Holly, so he tags in Karma for some lucha action. Crash eventually tastes The Worm while G and Hardcore are brawling on the outside, and the 1-2-3 means victory.
And that’s just scratching the surface.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I think Yaga has been getting too cocky with that WWF Title. It’s time for Li to take him down a peg.