An old-fashioned rumble.
I had a hard time when I got into fights as a child. While all the other kids learned how to fight by watching Rocky, I learned how to fight watching West Side Story. Needless to say, all my finger snapping and pirouettes did little to stop that left hook heading for my jaw. Somehow, it was always more effective in the movie.
Rest assured, however, that when Michael Buffer says "Let's get ready to ruuuumble!" he's not referring to the Sharks and the Jets prancing around and singing about having rockets in their pockets (stay cool, boy.) Ready 2 Rumble Round 2 is the sequel to last year's successful Dreamcast launch title, and while many of the problems of last year's version are fixed, it still feels like the exact same game.
When the Dreamcast first came out, Ready 2 Rumble was impressive graphically. However, in the past year, some downright amazing looking games have been released, such as Ecco the Dolphin. This doesn't mean that the Playstation 2 version looks any better, however. In fact, the Dreamcast and PS2 versions look almost identical.
On the plus side, both versions have smoothly animated boxers and those fantastic facial expressions that set the original apart from the pack. On the minus side, in order to maintain the framerate, the arenas are remarkably lame. If you can name one boxing arena in real life where the spectators have to be at least twenty feet from the ring, I'll give you a cookie.
One of the best features of R2R Round 2 is the sheer number of hidden characters. There are a total of 23 boxers that you can eventually choose, including a few celebrities. After mastering the ways of Shaq-Fu for the Genesis, Shaquille O'Neil once again graces the video game screen. Accompanying him is, of all people, Michael Jackson, who probably would have been better suited if the game actually was based on West Side Story. Want to settle the Monica Lewinsky scandal from the comfort of your own home? Believe it or not, both Bill and Hillary Clinton are unlockable characters. Hail to the chief, baby.
A big issue with the original game was the character imbalance. Some characters were just plain easy to beat people with, and others were really hard to use at all. While the opponent AI has been improved, the problem still stands.
There are four of ways to play. Arcade mode is your basic pick-a-boxer-and-fight setup. Tournament mode is a Vs mode with a ladder setup with a max of eight players. Team Battle mode works as it does in any fighting game; each player selects several boxers and they fight until one player has no boxers left. All that leaves is Championship mode...which is the real focus of the game.
In Championship mode, you choose a boxer and train him before he ever sets foot in the ring. The training takes the form of seven mini-games with varying degrees of difficulty. There's the Jump Rope, Sway Bag, Speed Bag, Heavy Bag, Rumble Pads, Rumble Aerobics (with an overly-endowed and very bouncy female instructor), and Weight Lifting. While you may be thinking, "Hey that sounds like a lot of depth," think again.
The training is fairly easy to master and as long as you are decent at it, your boxer becomes much more powerful than your opponent before you've even set foot in the ring. In Championship mode, you dominate your opponents by the fifth match. Let's face it, this game is easy.
Add to that the new and "improved" Rumble meter. Whereas in the first game using the Rumble meter gave you a series of fast, powerful punches, R2R Round 2 has given the new meter three levels. Seemingly inspired by the Street Fighter series, you increase your Rumble meter by landing solid punches. The first level lets you execute the moves that were in the original R2R. The second level makes the punches faster and harder. And the third level throws gameplay in the toilet and allows you to beat your opponent with a single punch, sending him flying out of the ring...along with the gameplay.
Ready 2 Rumble Round 2 is an arcade game, plain and simple. Unfortunately, that just doesn't cut it with today's console systems. While it makes a stab at depth with the Championship mode, that turns out to be a huge disappointment. Is a good boxing game that hard to make? Finally, I just have to say that despite my prancing and finger snapping, I could kick Michael Jackson's ass, despite the fact that one of his gloves is golden.