Review By: J.
Midway is Ready 2 Rumble Boxing Round 2, a second helping
of the wacky, over-the-top slugfest that helped launch the
Dreamcast in style back in `99. When first released, R2R
offered fun, face-paced pick-up-and-playability not seen in the
boxing genre since the days of Punch-Out. True to form,
however, Midway has set out to beat an original idea into
the ground, updating the game on the surface but doing little to
combat the shallow, repetitive nature of arcade-style games.
While the inclusion of mini-games in the Championship mode does
offer a nice diversion for a few hours, they do a poor job of
stifling the boredom and lack of originality in the long run.
Once again Midway created yet another uninspired sequel
in the companyís long history of uninspired sequels.
played the first game, youíve played this one: pick one of 23
culturally insensitive pugilists to face off in the boxing ring.
During combat each fighter has a strength meter and a health
meter. The health bar drains with every blow, moving the player
closer to a knock out, while the strength meter not only
determines the amount of damage delivered by each punch but also
drains every time a punch is thrown or taken. Every time you
land a heavy hit you fill up the "Rumble Meter" that
allows you to unleash a barrage of punches once the word "R-U-M-B-L-E"
is completely spelled. Each fight lasts until a boxer is knocked
down a set number of times or is knocked out the ring with the
new level three "Rumble Flurry".
Meter now has three levels instead of one. Once the meter has
been fully charged the player can unleash a move so powerful it
sends their opponent flying clear out the ring. While this may
sound like a cool idea in theory all it does is dumb down an
already simplistic fighting system. With a little practice the
player can land this move before the end of the first round,
breezing through the game in no time. The move does take a while
to wind up, which leaves the player wide open for reprise in the
mean time, but even this sad attempt at balance does little
help. Personally I feel this move would have been better left
out the game all together.
think with an outrageous game like this, high-hitting combos
would be the norm, right? Youíd think that this would feel
like an exaggerated form of boxing the same way NBA Street felt
like an exaggerated form of basketball or Crazy Taxi felt
like an exaggerated form of driving, right? Well, it doesnít.
If anything it feels like a slowed down version of the real
thing. Standard punches can only be thrown one or two in a row
before you have to pause and refill your strength bar.
"Special moves" consist of slow, short combos that are
less practical to use than just mashing one of the jab buttons.
"the sweet science" Ready 2 Rumble ainít. Winning
depends more on luck and the character you chose over anything
else. Each match comes down to who has the longest reach, and
who can take advantage of that the most. If you can keep your
opponent at arms length with a large boxer like Butcher Brown or
Johnny "Bad" Blood you can easily best the most
skilled player who chooses a stubby boxer like Afro Thunder or
Lulu Valentine. What all this amounts to is a whole lot of
frustrating, shallow, restrictive, and dull game play because of
poor character balance.
game is nice. Everything is colorful and stylish, including the
characters. Character designs are lively, and even the menus
have personality. Arenas are distinctive and varied, ranging
between everything from a small theater, to a large stadium, to
a wild-west themed barn. High polygon character models are large
and well-detailed, and real-time facial expressions and damage
effects add much needed depth to the characters, not to mention
makes working over a particular side of an opponentís face for
eight rounds straight pretty rewarding. For the most part
animations are well done, although movements are a bit jerky on
some of the characters, with animations that donít blend well
together. The biggest technical gripe is over the horrible
shading. "Shadows" are simply random, flickering
polygons that fall unnaturally on characters. This is most
visible during the post fight taunt, in which shadows dance and
sputter around even on motionless characters as if they are
standing in front of a broken strobe light. While this doesnít
impair game play it does show that this first generation
Playstation 2 title is merely a port from the less powerful
game play is shallow, Midway has tried, rather
unsuccessfully, to make up for this in the options department.
The single player Arcade mode is used to unlock the myriad of
hidden characters, including alternate customs for some
characters that are enabled on certain holidays thanks to the
PS2ís internal clock. The game features several multiplayer
modes including Tournament and Team Battles, as well as a rather
interesting, yet ultimately repetitive Championship mode. The
Championship mode follows the basic formula set by all career
modes in the past few years - choose a character and raise them
from the streets to the big times while building their skills
along the way. Stat increasing mini-games and prizefights make
up the bulk of this experience, with title matches littered
about to increase your fighterís rank. The main depth in this
mode comes from the mini-games that range from Dance, Dance
Revolution style, rhythm-based challenges to the Wack-a-Mole
inspired "Rumble Pads". Each training session can
range from easy (level one) to extreme (level ten) and are
actually rather fun, well, at least for a while. After a few
hours training your boxer seems more a chore than anything else
and youíll soon find yourself skipping the mini-games all
together, eliminating whatever variety they added to the game.
character designs are brash and eye-catching, but too often for
the wrong reasons. While entirely light-hearted in nature, each
character in the game mockingly portrays a particular ethnic
group or nationality with such painful inaccuracy that it often
detracts from the game. While such precedence was set during the
8-bit era a certain level of leeway was provided the developers
due to the fact that the majority of console games originated
from Japan, and such errors were due more to inexperience than
malice. In this day an age, however, what might have been
intended as harmless fun turns into wincingly insensitive
characterizations like the over-weight Hawaiian, the hirsute
Italian mobster, and the dim-witted Texan. Whenever a character
like Angel "Raging" Rivera, the flashy Mexican boxer,
or J.C. Thunder, the flamboyant African-American
hustler-wannabe, opens their mouth itís down right
embarrassing. While a game with character names like
"Big" Willy Johnson and Afro Thunder canít possibly
be taken seriously enough to get insulted (not to mention hidden
fighters like Bill Clinton, Michael Jackson, and Shaq) it is
worth noting that it might put some off a bit.
so much else in the game, is pretty unremarkable. Dialogue is
pretty off the mark and with the exception of the painfully
catchy "Ready 2 Rumble theme song" music seems absent
in the game all together. The voices, while clear and
distinctive, sound as cheesy as a badly dubbed Kung-Fu flick,
with lip-syncing to match. Some can grate on ones nerves like
cold knives down your spin (Afro Thunderís high-pitched
exclamations come to mind) while others just fall totally off
the mark (Michael Jacksonís voice sounds like it was recorded
by Isaac Hayes). One of the few shining points for the game is
some truly funny dialogue from the managers, who berate and
taunt the players all throughout the match in an imitation of
the classic coach from Rocky.
think with an arcade style game that the action would be fast
paced and shallow since these are the typical traits of arcade
games. But R2R2 manages to be stilted and shallow,
practically killing any ounce of replay value it might have had.
The few encouragements for come back, like the Championship mode
and host of hidden characters, doesnít provide enough reason
for gamers to put up with its stifled pace and
"more-of-the-same" game play. For anyone who hasnít
played the game before and are curious, it might be worth a
rental. For anyone who really loved the game and is dieing to
see the series reach the PS2 maybe picking up a used copy wouldnít
be a bad idea, but about a week is all anyone can stomach before
they are ready for a more rewarding gaming experience.
- Nice, high polygon character models.
inside encouragement can be pretty funny.
surprising, date-based secrets to uncover on holidays.
number of multiplayer modes.
ethnic characterizations and dialogue can be taken as
offensive by some.
shadows on characters.
Midway once again
confuses more of the same with a quality sequel and further
dilutes and already shallow game idea by turning it into an
unworthy franchise. If you really need a boxing game, give it a
weekend rental; by Monday the novelty should already have worn
off. Otherwise, wait for something better to come along.