Sierra Sports' Professional Bull Rider 2 is intended to be the sequel to last year's Professional Bull Rider, a hybrid arcade/sports game that lets you jump into the bull-riding arena as either a cowboy or a bull. And it's got much of the same good looks and gameplay as those of the original game - literally. Though the game is called Professional Bull Rider 2, it reuses most of the same exact graphics, music, voiceover, and gameplay as those of the previous game. The new game does include an entirely new mode of play, along with a few extra options, but the core game is still virtually identical to the original.
As with the previous game, Professional Bull Rider 2 is an officially sanctioned computer-game re-creation of the sport of bull riding. You can choose to play through a full season; your cowboy and bull (you can play as either during any of the matches) will tour the United States on the bull-riding circuit and earn points toward getting to the championship. And as in the previous game, you can also jump into a game with the "quick ride" option, which lets you play as many rounds as you like, either as a bull or cowboy.
In any case, the game hasn't changed much for either the cowboy or the bull. Playing the cowboy is as challenging as ever: You must keep him centered on the bull's back as it spins, bucks, and jumps. And as before, your cowboy must make good use of the re-grip command. If the bull starts a particularly nasty spin or leap, the cowboy can grip the saddle more tightly - however, doing so will drain his stamina. And though the bull has one new move (a quick buck to the side known as the bellyroll), playing the bull is more or less the same as it was in the last game; you must spin and buck until you throw the cowboy off, then try to trample him afterward for a few extra points. For what it is, it's still enjoyable; it's still exciting to ride a bucking bull and run like heck if you're thrown, and it's still exciting to toss and chase down a cowboy as the bull. Professional Bull Rider 2 has all the painful-looking and over-the-top throwing and trampling animations of the original, plus several new animations. As with the previous game, you can play riding mode in head-to-head competition on the same computer (one player as the bull, the other as the cowboy), and as with the previous game, you'll get the best results by playing with a good gamepad.
Professional Bull Rider 2 also has a brand-new "bullfighter" (rodeo clown) game mode. The bullfighter mode pits a lone rodeo clown against a single bull and lets you play as either. In this mode, playing as the bull is essentially the same as in riding mode after you've tossed the cowboy; you must simply run your bull right into the bullfighter and trample over him to get points. Playing as the bullfighter is more interesting and enjoyable at least for a while, as you earn points for leaping or diving over the bull, taunting it from a safe distance, or performing the extremely difficult trick of sneaking up behind the bull and slapping it on the hindquarters. Unfortunately, bullfighter mode doesn't have season play; only a "quick fight" option and head-to-head competition.
Professional Bull Rider 2 has a handful of extras, but these do little to make the game any more worthwhile. For instance, it contains an updated roster of bull riders and bulls. You can also create your own custom cowboy or bull with the game's new edit mode; this lets you choose the name, appearance, and statistics of your bull or cowboy. For the most part, the only significant aspect of the edit mode is that you can change statistics, and even this doesn't add much to the game. Otherwise, the game CD also contains a trailer for an upcoming film and a new track by Lynyrd Skynyrd (which can be listened to only through the option menu), neither of which enhances the game at all.
It's unfortunate, and maybe even a bit misleading, that the game is called Professional Bull Rider 2, as it implies that it's a full-blown sequel. Unfortunately, the game doesn't really have enough in the way of significantly new content to really justify calling it a sequel: It reuses the same exact graphics, voiceover, and music as in the original game; it even recycles the tutorial movies for the bull-riding mode. As such, if you've already got the original game and have had enough of it, you'll probably want to pass on the new one. Then again, if you couldn't get enough of the first Professional Bull Rider, or if you missed out entirely on the original game and have never seen its convincingly painful tramplings or heard its authentic color commentary by PBR announcer Justin McKee, you might do well to get Professional Bull Rider 2 - it's as exciting and enjoyable as the previous game, because other than its one new mode of play, it essentially is the previous game.