Ready 2 - Rumble Round 2
Ready 2 Rumble, as dieted as it sounds, follows the usual Midway mantra of action, plus more action, plus big, in-your-face character models, equals success. It worked last year, when R2R debuted on the Dreamcast and was a surprise hit. The only problem with Midway's thinking is that they seem to believe their once-original game ideas stay fresh indefinitely. See Blitz 1990-2010 for an example of that. Not to say that R2R2 isn't, to steal from the proverbial press release, "loaded" with new features. You've got your new hidden characters, your new combos, your updated graphics, etc. But none of them amount to a hilt of beans. What it boils down to is this...R2R2 is a goofy, button-mashing shell of a fighting/box-ing game that doesn't aim to hold your attention span for more than 10 minutes. It's not Knockout Kings, and it's not Tekken. Sure, you train your boxer (try auto-training for better results) and the minigames are worth a try or two, but it's all just a diversion before you go button-ballistic for a round or three. The game's mechanics are somewhat unresponsive, which promotes the idea of punching fast and often. Trying to defend is useless, as blocking a punch doesn't give you any significant counterpunch advantage. And if you get backed into a corner, it's usually lights out. Overall, it's lighthearted fun if taken in short bursts. Extended gameplay, however, turns it into heavy-handed boredom.
There's no big surprises here, but that works well for this by-the-book sequel Basically, there's more of everything that worked in the last game. More characters, more moves, more modes and a little more depth, as well. The graphics have been improved and each character is more over-the top and loaded up with personality. The additions of Shaq and Michael Jackson are amusing, particularly for Pacers fans and people who just don't like musical freaks. If you liked the first one, you'll love this sequel, and I suggest that if you haven't played it, maybe you should give it a try. One of the strongest PS2 launch games by far.
Depending on what you're looking for. R2R2 could be great for you...or really frustrating. If you don't give a crap about real boxing and precise defensive maneuvers, you'll like what you get. It's more about combos and knowing when to unleash them--after that it's fists of fury. Overall, the game is very momentum-based: Once you're stunned or backed up on the ropes, it's freakin' hard to recover. Then you're forced to watch helplessly as your boxer takes an ass-whoopin'. On the other hand, when it's your turn to dish out the hurt, it's fun again. If you can deal with the wacky momentum changes, you'll dig it. At the very least it's a great party game.