Wrestling Spirit 2 Review (PC)
From the best wrestling text based sim company in the world (okay, the only wrestling text based sim company in the world) comes Wrestling Spirit 2. I have to be honest with you, though: I didn’t get a chance to play the first Wrestling Spirit. When I was assigned to review this game, I assumed it was similar to Grey Dog’s Total Extreme Wrestling or Adam Ryland’s previous wrestling simulators, where you are commissioner of a wrestling company and your primary responsibility is booking matches. Wrestling Spirit 2 is nothing like that. This time you aren’t a booking matches….you are actually taking part in them. This game focuses primarily on the life of a wrestler. Instead of being Vince McMahon or Paul Heyman, you are Triple H or Jeff Jarrett.
Wrestling Spirit 2 features five game modes: "Exhibition", "Pro League", "World League", "Rookie to Legend" and "Superstar Challenge". Initially it’s hard to decipher a difference between the game modes but they are somewhat different. In "Superstar Challenge" mode, you take control of an existing wrestler and take him through the world of wrestling. "Rookie to Legend" mode is different in that you control a rookie wrestler and have to work your way up the ladder. In this mode, you can expect to spend a long time as a "jobber" but once you start to move up the ranks that time will seem worth it. "World League" mode is a fantasy scenario where you control a wrestler in one of the five national leagues and try to become the true champion of the world. Finally, "Professional League" is a league where all the top wrestlers battle and your goal is to take a wrestler to the championship.
In every mode, you control everything from your wrestler’s finances, health and relationships with other wrestlers. You can present ideas to the front office like beginning a feud with another wrestler or starting a tag team. The major difference, and the biggest problem that I have with this game, is that the game factors in things like pushes and popularity but it’s not completely true to professional wrestling. As we all know, professional wrestling is a sport where the winners and losers are decided before the fight begins. However, in Wrestling Spirit 2, your energy, moveset and decision making determine whether you win or lose a match. The in-ring action has a role playing game element to it. You decide what moves you make and based on those decisions, you will win or lose the match. Another problem with the in-ring interface is the speed of a match. I can’t think of anyone but the hardest of hardcore wrestling fans who want to map out every single move in a wrestling match. Now I don’t mean every single offensive move….I mean every single move. You choose every block, every climb of the turnbuckle, every time you pick up an opponent off the mat. One suggestion for future versions of this series would be to give gamers a faster option where you only decide to the major moves or combining move sets. In order to attempt a piledriver on a fallen opponent, it’s obvious that you must pick your opponent off the mat so the gamer should not have to instruct the wrestler to do that…its overkill.
Every Grey Dog Software game is extremely deep and while Wrestling Spirit 2 is no different, I still walk away from this game thinking that there could be more. Over the past couple of years, we have seen text based sims take huge steps regarding the on the field or in-ring interface. Most text based games now feature a court, field or ring where you can actually track the action without having to solely rely on the text. Wrestling Spirit 2 features a window that shows you the successful moves but that fails to immerse you in the action. The game features no sound and I think that a small thing like the crowd reaction to the match is a much needed addition to this game. Text based games require a little bit of imagination in order to be totally enjoyable but the game should provide you with a few elements that allow you to be caught up in the wrestling world you have created. Adam Ryland’s previous releases Total Extreme Warfare and Total Extreme Wrestling had no problem keeping my attention, but I’m sad to say that Wrestling Spirit 2 failed to do the same. With that said, there is a very good foundation here and I believe that future versions will build on this and produce a solid game.