Get offa my lawn!
Ever wonder what it feels like to jump off your buddy’s roof and spear a knee into him? Curious as to exactly how much damage barbed wire on a baseball bat can really do? Want to find the answers to these mysteries without seeing the back of a squad car? Then the wide, wide world of Backyard Wrestling is for you’unless you’ve already been there and done that, in which case you deserve the squad car, and probably the nightstick, too. Ditto for your buddy.
The same curiosity that spurs society to have The Bearded Lady stand abreast with a Beefalo seems to be the driving force behind the sub-moronic ‘sport’ of beating people up in your backyard. Unlike the circus freakshow, though, Backyard Wrestling 2 is neither unique nor endearing and runs about as deep as a spittoon.
There are a whopping two modes. In Exhibition mode, there are about twenty-five wrestlers available, including such talents as Vampiro, Violent J, Zandig, Sick Nick Mondo, Ruckus, scantily-clad pornstars Sunrise Adams and Tera Patrick, and naturally, Tylene Buck. There are no alternate costumes for any of the fighters, so we can’t see how far Eidos would go to compete with Rumble Roses. You can also import your own created superstar if you have no idea who these people are.
Most of your time will be spent in the boring Career Mode, which tosses you into a barebones Edit-A-Wrestler in which you can make ‘Obese Kilt Guy’ or ‘String N’ Mesh Girl’. You can’t stray from these types very much due to a regrettably modest collection of accessories. You can replace your wrestler’s moves with those of other characters, but due to a relative lack of moves in general, it’s nothing that hasn’t been done better before.
Armed with your very own income-deprived lunatic, you undertake “do this move twice” or “survive this many fighters” missions and challenges in one of ten areas, which range from a mini-golf course to the good ol’ trailer park. Alternately, you can just choose to fight one random fighter after another to earn cash for a couple more unlockable accessories or Backyard Wrestling movies, none of which feature the two porn chicks or any other of Backyard Wrestling 2 ‘s female psuedo-celebs, so don’t get too psyched. In a rare act of self-restraint, Eidos wanted to be certain it ducked the scarlet letters “AO” by going violently prudish here. God bless them.
The fighting in general is a departure from most wrestling games in that it is faster-paced and less complex. Button-mash combos and a ton of environmental objects that break up to leave useable fragments separates Backyard Wrestling games from others in the genre, but besides the ability to block and “Enviro-Mental” throw, nothing has changed in Backyard Wrestling 2 from the first.
In other words, the gameplay is still full of holes. When you’re not mashing buttons to just beat up the other guy, you can try grappling. You can execute one of three moves; if your opponent tries to same move, he’ll gain the grapple advantage. After about two rounds, you’ll realize you’re playing a blood-soaked version of rock, paper, scissors.
The mash combo damage and grapple damage are balanced evenly, though every wrestler’s Special Move does the most damage by far. The one penalty for using a Special Move is that it uses up your whole Turbo Meter. Running strikes, a universal grapple reversal (ie. “grenade,” in rock, paper, scissors), and guard-breaks all use up Turbo in an attempt to prevent matches from being Special Move-a-thons. Unfortunately, the meter builds up too quickly and the damage is too disproportionate not to use Specials every chance you get.
Weapons are scattered everywhere and can be used as projectiles, melee strikes, or in grapples. Using these whenever possible is usually a winning strategy, though they quickly get boring and you’ll force yourself to use other techniques just for variation’s sake. Those “Enviro-Mental” throws can be used in particular locations of a stage and are fun from time to time to enjoy a little extra brutality, like being slammed with a car trunk’s door or drowned underwater. But like most of Backyard Wrestling 2, the novelty wears off quickly.
Backyard Wrestling 2 loses another eye in its terrible collision detection. Fighters occasionally jump through space and time during grapple moves, and though this doesn’t kill the game, it’s really, really bad when both characters are going through the move’s animation ten feet away from each other. Then they’ll jump back to being close again. In a further display of their mystical prowess, fighters can go through walls. The collision detection issues become especially irritating when dealing with projectiles, since they’ll clearly appear to miss you, and yet you get smacked. Running strikes are done in all of three frames and the speed of running and jumping off platforms looks odd in comparison to the smoother framerate of walking. Both the PS2 and Xbox versions run on the same poor, shoddy engine and look equally rough.
The game’s soundtrack features a whopping 57 hardcore, punk, and metal tracks from the likes of Mudvayne, Hoobastank, Insane Clown Posse, and Andrew WK. Hope you’re angry. If you’re not, you will be after listening to the game’s insanity-inducing sound effects. Every blow of a mash combo blurts out a simply horrific voice effect of “Unhhh!” or “Ahhh!” to the point where you’re actually groaning along with it. Ultimately, if a man is fighting a woman, they sound like they are engaging in unwanted intercourse. It’s creepy.
So is the fact that this sequel even made it to store shelves. Fans of Backyard Wrestling may want to try this game out, but then again, they might have more fun with a blowtorch and video camera. Lord knows I would.