Backyard Wrestling: Don't Try This At Home Review

Review Format:

Playstation 2

Ignoring WWE’s advice to ‘Please don’t try this at home’, kids across the nation are all too keen to bust their friend’s heads open with chairs and launch themselves off their neighbour’s garages. This ‘Jackass’ style trend, known as Backyard Wrestling, has spawned quite a following. After recent DVD successes, and the continued popularity of wrestling games, it’s no surprise that ‘Backyard Wrestling’ should find it’s way onto video game consoles.

The kamikaze wrestling licence has been taken on by Eidos, best known for creating hits such as Tomb Raider, Soul Reaver, and TimeSplitters. They have enlisted Paradox Entertainment to work on the game. Paradox have produced several fighting games in the past including ‘Wu Tang Clan: Shaolin Style’, and the notoriously banned ‘Thrill Kill’.

The main focus of Backyard Wrestling’s action takes place in ‘Talk Show Mode’. On starting a level, you are ‘treated’ to a cut scene of a fictional Chat Show called ‘Today’s Talk’. Here a number of degenerative guests talk about the day’s subject, Backyard Wrestling. This leads to scenes reminiscent of the Jerry Springer Show, complete with beeped out swearing. Cut scenes loosely introduce the action for the upcoming levels, which include slaughterhouses, strip joints and television studios. Each level consists of three consecutive matches in a row. If you loose one of the fights, you will have to start the entire level again. Progression can be frustrating, but stick with it and you will be rewarded with new characters and video clips.

‘Exhibition Mode’ is ideal when you want a quick fight against the computer or a friend. Once they are unlocked, you can select from 30 wrestlers to use. Characters include Dogg 20, Josh Prohibition, Mad Man Pondo, The Rudeboy, Sabu, Insane Clown Posse, and various scantily clad women. All of the levels from Talk Show Mode’ are available to use in ‘Exhibition Mode’.

Other unlockable features include ‘King of the Hill’, Tag’ and ‘Survival’ Mode. Completing ‘Survival’ will earn you an additional 5 wrestlers to use in the game. These modes offer little variation to the rest of the game, and do little to enhance its lifespan.

The ‘Create a Wrestler’ feature is quite misleading. There are only 8 pre-designed character models available, and their physical attributes cannot be altered. Their clothing is the only part that can be changed, and only by colour. This means that CAW mode effectively contains 8 more pre-designed wrestlers to use in the game. Well not quite… there are only 6 save slots in which to save the wrestlers, meaning two will be left out. Do not despair however, as your likeness can still appear in the game. You will just have to gain a couple of hundred pounds and start dressing like one of the characters.

So there aren’t many options, but we all know that it’s the gameplay that makes a good game. There are a variety of blood inducing moves at your disposal, including punches, kicks, and grapples. There are also plenty of weapons about, to be used or thrown. The latter is the computer-controlled wrestlers favourite past time, as will soon become apparent. Instead of taking you on directly, your opponents prefer to run around, continuously picking up and throwing weapons at you. Conveniently, weapons have been installed with homing devices, and will hit their target nearly all of the time. This in turn causes you to also run around, avoiding projectiles, and trying to get the odd move in. Punches and kicks are more effective then grapples, as they are harder to block. Grapples will only come into play when your opponent becomes stunned, and unable to counter your every move. What you are left with is a fast-paced weapon retrieval game, set in the garden.

The character designs aren’t exactly rich in detail, but are functional enough. As you inflict more damage, your opponents’ body will quickly become bloodied and bruised. Each move sends a mist of blood into the air, leaving a puddle on the floor. Each level is full of multi-tiered platforms to launch off including bamboo huts and music stages. There are also various interactive elements, such as mattresses that can be set on fire, and background characters that attack on approach. The game also suffers from extreme clipping, so expect to get stuck in a lot of walls!

Interestingly, the most entertaining part of ‘Backyard Wrestling’ doesn’t involve the game at all. On completion of certain levels, unlockable movie clips are made available in the ‘Media Room’. They feature the Backyard Wrestling stars at their most stupid, hurling themselves from rooftops onto wobbly cardboard tables and getting hit repeatedly with dangerous objects. More entertaining still is their choice of costumes, which look like cast offs from Marilyn Manson.

In the few clips that actually show wrestling, one detail becomes evident. Like other Wrestling Federations, the Backyard guys also fight in a wrestling ring. Bizarrely, this little detail seems to have been overlooked, with not a single wrestling ring to be found in the entire game.

Underneath the blood, carnage and semi-naked women, hides a game lacking any substantial depth or playability. Even the ‘Create a Wrestler’ and multiplayer modes offer little replay value. With the amount of high quality wrestling titles on the market, it appears that Eidos has underestimated the expectations of its target audience, producing a below-standard beat-em-up.

Unless you are particularly entertained by games with graphic violence, it’s probably best to take Backyard Wrestling’s own advance and ‘Don’t try this at home’!

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