Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighborhood Hands-On Impressions

Eidos shows off the second entry in its unique wrestling series.

Tonight at a press event, Eidos showed off a work-in-progress version of Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighborhood, its second foray into the alternative sports genre. Last year's Backyard Wrestling: Don't Try This at Home was an uneven but ambitious attempt to capture the world of backyard wrestling, which, up until that point, existed as a cult phenomenon fueled by home videos and pay-per-view events. Although the game didn't quite live up to its lofty goals, Eidos and Paradox are trying one more time with Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighborhood, a follow-up that aims to improve on its predecessor's faults.

The version of the game we played ran on both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox and offered a sampling of what to expect from the sequel. The demo offered a roster of 10 playable characters, such as New Jack, Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope (both of the Insane Clown Posse), Tera Patrick, Mad Man Pondo, the Masked Horn Dog, Sandman, Supreme, Luke Hadley, and Sick Nick Mondo. However the aforementioned characters aren't the only familiar faces you'll find in the game. The game's locked menus clearly showed a roster of roughly 25 wrestlers, along with several open slots for you to import custom characters.

The demo offered five different themed interactive environments to play on--the backyard, the trailer park, a mini-golf course, the brewery, and the restaurant were all playable. The backyard is a small area that is littered with debris to use as you wrestle, for instance, while mini-golf sends you to fight against your foe on a putt-putt lane complete with a mechanical fan. In addition to the five areas, it was possible to check out the menus for the other levels, which weren't shown. All told, it appears the game will have 10 levels to play on, along with career, exhibition, and custom event modes to play through. You'll also have the option to play online or create your own wrestler.

The control has remained true to the simple system used in the first game. You'll have two attacks, a grapple button, and a context-sensitive environment button that will let you interact with your environment while mashing your opponent. You'll perform button combos to ease you into the action and prep you for what's coming.

The graphics in the game are still rough, but they are sporting an improved look overall. The frame rate in the version we played was basically smooth, which bodes well for both platforms. The characters, while not overwhelming, look good. The blood animation on them still needs some work but otherwise looks fine so far. As for the game's voice cast, you can plan on hearing plenty of zingers as the characters interact with each other while you play.

All told, Backyard Wrestling 2: There Goes the Neighborhood is a rough sequel that has quite a bit of promise, like its predecessor; hopefully development will head in a positive direction from here. The sampling of the modes we played, especially online, were decent enough and have the potential to make for a solid game. The game is currently slated to ship this fall for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox.

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