The original Contender wasn't the greatest boxing game of all time, but it was the greatest PlayStation boxing game at the time of its release, which makes it a must for fight fans. Contender 2, however, comes at a time when arcade-style boxing games are all the rage, thanks to the success of games like Ready 2 Rumble Boxing. But even with all the competition, fans of the original Contender will undoubtedly enjoy the sequel's familiar - yet vastly improved - look and feel.
As part of the game's new look and feel, the developers have changed the game's interface, replaced it with an even more simplified look, and actually removed some of the original game modes. In Contender 2, you can choose from two main modes: exhibition and main event. The exhibition mode lets you quickly pick a fighter for a one-player match against the computer or a second player. Main event mode lets you take a fighter from the depths of the ranking chart in an attempt to capture the title.
The gameplay and control in Contender 2 have also received some tweaking and refinement. The most noticeable improvement is the game's increased speed, which changes the way the game is played dramatically. In the original game, the speed at which the fighters moved was so slow that all you wanted to do was get to your opponent, and you never really got into trying to use footwork strategically in the fight. But with Contender 2's increased speed and ring movement, working the ring and trying to attack your opponent from angles is a possibility that actually gives the game more depth. Also adding to the game's depth is a new control scheme, which now has independent buttons for left and right punches, both high and low. While you can execute these punches more easily than in the original game, Contender 2's basic mechanic scheme is ultimately the same.
Visually, Contender 2 looks very similar to the original game, which was fairly decent. The big difference in the game's look is that it has been improved with cleaner-looking character models and textures. The fighters are a little too stiff when they move, but it kind of fits the blocky cartoon-style character models - it gives them an almost "Rock 'Em Sock 'Em Robot" feel.
In the audio department, the game has little going for it: The announcer is still incredibly annoying, and not only because his chatter is limited to only a handful of different lines, but also because his voice just grades on you after a while. The crowd and general sound effects are decent but not extremely memorable.
In the end, Contender 2 is a much more enjoyable arcade-style boxing game than its processor, and fans of the original game, as well as fans of the genre, will undoubtedly enjoy it. While the game isn't necessarily as flashy as Ready 2 Rumble Round 2, Contender 2 definitely has its good points in the areas that matter.