E3 2003: Backyard Wrestling: Hands-on impressions
Wrestling games are kind of a niche genre, usually only admired by fans of the real life sports entertainment industry. For those who don’t ‘smell what the Rock is cooking’, wrestling games are nothing but a magnet for criticism, most of it deserving. As of late, there have been a few attempts to broaden the genre by offering alternative themed wrestling games. Def Jam Vendetta was a great example of this, while Paradox’s Backyard Wrestling is not.
Backyard Wrestling looks like a first generation PS2 game. The characters are quite pixilated and the backgrounds all suffer from the infamous ‘ladder effect’. I was only able to check out 2 levels in the demo, but neither looked particularly good, and I’d be lying if I said they looked even a bit above average. Hopefully there is still work to be done in this department, but I’m not holding my breath.
The gameplay in Backyard Wrestling attempts to recreate the feel of true backyard wrestling antics. The demo was even prefaced with a lengthy legal statement about the insane stunts contained in the game, leaving me to believe that I was about to see some seriously crazy stuff. Unfortunately, the gameplay was fairly bland. You run around hitting your opponent, often with stop signs, wooden clubs and other such stuff, until you either stun them enough to be able to pin them for a three count, or just knock them completely out. When stunned, your opponent will grow dizzy and be incapable of moving, giving you time to either beat the crap out of them some more, or just pin them if you’re quick enough.
Either way, the gameplay just isn’t exciting. You can pick stuff up and whack your opponent with it, but it’s really no different than a no holds barred match found in most traditional wrestling games. There are tables that you can slam someone through, but once again, nothing special. You could light a table on fire, but that really didn’t seem to do much of anything seeing as how I had my wrestler standing in the middle of this pixilated inferno. I then proceeded to slam my opponent through the burning table, but he seemed just as impervious to flame as my character did.
Really, the only thing that made this game stand out from others was the unusual and varied locales. The two levels I checked out were pretty unique; a truck stop and the backyard of a stately mansion. They weren’t terribly big or interactive, though. Either way, Paradox has a long way to go before they turn Backyard Wrestling into a game worthy of anyone’s time.
5/15/2003 Ryan Hartmann