Backyard Wrestling is frickin' painful. All that clubbing around the head with a barbed wired bat, and the high-risk slams from the roof of a bus. But did you know you can experience this hard-hitting 'sport' without the fear of a ruptured spine? Oh yes, BW is back, baby. Yep, back with the same crap as last year! The real sport hurts your body while the game just does your head in.
Given the amazing subject matter, Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes The Neighbourhood could have been brilliant. During its birth into the big bad world of beat-'em-ups, BW2 showed great promise. We anticipated a fight game set free from the corporate Gran-appeasing shackles of WWE 'battles' and when we discovered that an 'Enviro-Mental' engine (we kid you not) was going to allow you to smash a man through a fence, we imagined that Def Jam: FFNY might have some competition. We were wrong.
Visually everything looks fine and the fighters feel genuinely weighty when they're pummelling each other, but BW2 is riddled with seriously flawed animations. Even the collision detection is annoyingly random, which doesn't bode well for a game that's all about things colliding... For example, if your foe is standing on a surface two feet above you, you can throw a punch that will somehow send him reeling from the non-impact. Rubbish. There's also a pathetic power move, which can render your foe fuzzy-minded. Now this should be ideal for taking the upper hand, but for some reason it's almost impossible to land a grapple with them in this state. These sort of shenanigans are seriously frustrating and just highlight the slightly slip-shod attention to detail that stinks out the whole experience. And yet they've the nerve to share shelves with Smackdown.
Unlike it's theme-mate, WWE: Smackdown Vs Raw, the create-a-wrestler mode is pitiful. You get a whopping six (yes, six!) heads to choose from, and an even more 'cough' impressive seven hairstyles. There's also a meagre selection of clothing options to choose from, ranging from snowshoes (the tennis racquet kind) to night vision goggles. There definitely aren't enough wild and wonderful garments to excite a creative gamer's mind.
Ultimately, BW2 is an abject victim of 'that'll do' development, which is bitterly disappointing given the potential here. Just like the pseudo-sport, this game's appeal only satisfies the easily impressed or air-deprived naive.
Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes The Neighborhood is out now for PS2 and Xbox