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I was pleased to see the original Wrestling Spirit do well, due to the fact that I liked the approach the game took. You took control of a wrestler and took part in matches which required thought and strategy to come out on top. There aren’t many wrestling games available which could compete with WreSpi’s innovation. It had more action than it’s sister-game Total Extreme Wrestling, but still had the addictiveness and playability that’s always going to impress.
The original Wrestling Spirit game was a success. There’s no doubting that. The title offered a take on the wrestling game genre that had never been done before with such style. It scored consistently well in a whole host of reviews, and the conclusion can be reached that it sold well. Why can we assume that? Grey Dog Software and Adam Ryland have devised a sequel to the title, which wouldn’t have happened if there was no market for the game. WreSpi 2 will be available to purchase soon, and I’m sure there will be a whole host of people eager to find out how the game plays. So just how will Wrestling Spirit 2 compare to its predecessor, and other wrestling titles on the market?
For a text-based sim, the original Wrestling Spirit fared well in the looks department. It had a very easy to navigate layout, and lots of graphics to keep it looking more than just a spreadsheet full of text. I’m glad to say that this has been carried over to the sequel, in that the gamer is in the desirable position of not being exposed to garish graphics-for-the-sake-of-graphics, while still retaining the user friendly playing style. While the colour scheme may have changed to be more in line with the Total Extreme Wrestling series, the basic elements have remained unaltered. The in-match screen is still easy on the eye, with a list of moves available shown clearly, and the action told through a series of “Poser” style 3D models. As with any text based sim, you’re not going to find your graphics card pushed to the very limits when you load up WreSpi 2, but the game certainly does an effective job of giving the player a hassle-free environment in which to control the action from.
While the aesthetics of Wrestling Spirit 2 have changed quite a bit since the past incarnation of the game, there hasn’t been an awful lot of tinkering with the gameplay mechanics, which I’m thankful for. To be honest, there wasn’t a whole lot wrong with Wrestling Spirit’s way of wrestling the matches. The gamer is given a list of available moves to use on the opponent, each of which has a certain probability of succeeding and the chance that it will end the match. You’re not going to hit your finisher 30 seconds into the match. Likewise, you’re not going to knock out the heavyweight champion of the world with a kneelift even after a particularly gruelling bout. It’s all about using strategy to plan out your best means of offence, knowing when to hold back and when to go all out. One addition I’m pleased to see to the game is the use of both percentages for move effectiveness and the probability that it will end the match added to the main screen of the game. It was a bit of an inconvenience in the first Wrestling Spirit game to have to click a few times on every move to be taken to another screen. You don’t need to do that any more. This reduces the amount of work needed to be done in order to evaluate the best course of action to take, making the game a whole lot more efficient. If you were a big Wrestling Spirit fan, you’ll appreciate this change. If you’ve never played the game before, you’ll never be able to go back and play a similar game without this addition. I’m pleased that the basics of Wrestling Spirit haven’t been changed too much in the sequel, because the game engine itself was faultless. WreSpi 2’s matches play at a faster pace than the previous game, but still retain the nail-biting tension as the contest rolls into the final few moments. That’s all I could ask for.
One of the main unique selling points of the first Wrestling Spirit game was the option to play one of two careers modes. You could either take control of an existing wrestler, or devise a brand new character and lead that worker to the top. Wrestling Spirit 2 keeps these essential elements of the game (which will still be extraordinarily addictive), while adding another big feature to the game; the addition of leagues. We all know that wrestling promotions work independently of each other, with contractual law playing a big role in which wrestler is allowed to work for which company. That robs the fans of seeing some dream matches. In the mid-late 80’s, who wouldn’t have been hyped up for a Ric Flair Vs Hulk Hogan match, to decide who was truly the greatest star of that decade? We’ll never know how it would go thanks to both men being contracted to different promotions respectively. It would have been something special anyway, as opposed to the stink fests that they put on a decade later in the WCW main event scene. Anyway, the point that I’m getting at is that WreSpi recognises this inherent problem in the wrestling industry, and goes about rectifying it by offering a different take on reality; what if every wrestler was free to work against anyone they wanted? What if, instead of a hierarchical level of companies, there was a series of leagues, grouping the best wrestlers together in a competition to see who the best is? The league mode of Wrestling Spirit 2 is all about this scenario, and gives an interesting new dimension of the game. Matches are worked not for championships, but for points. The more matches you win, the more points you get. The wrestler with the most points at the end of the season is crowned champion, and depending on the way you’ve customised the league, may then go on to take on the winners of other leagues. Wrestling Spirit was hardly a game that lacked play options before, but the addition of this league feature adds even more to the title.
As with every wrestling game that Grey Dog Software put out, the entire world is customisable. The database can be tinkered with to your hearts content. Did you notice that your favourite obscure move never made it into the game? Simply go into the editor and add it yourself. You can edit everything from worker details to the title belts in a promotion, even customising the TV shows that the companies run. Add, delete, modify, it’s all there to be played around with. The customisation offered in Grey Dog Software’s titles is a big reason for their success in online communities, and WreSpi 2 looks to be no exception.
I’ve already touched upon most of the factors which will keep you playing WreSpi 2 for a long time. From the previous WreSpi, there are different career modes on offer which will keep you occupied for a while. There are also the different league modes to take part in, which add more depth to the game. Everything can be customised to suit your needs, and there’s no doubt the active online scene will provide a whole host of scenarios and fan-made edits to the game which will add even more scope to the title. You’re certain to get a lot of replayability from Wrestling Spirit 2.
There wasn’t an awful lot wrong with the first Wrestling Spirit, so you to find that not only does the sequel fix a few minor flaws from the first game, but adds an entirely brand new major feature to the game in the shape of the league format, is very pleasing indeed. I can’t think of another text based sim on the market which can compete with the high levels of action and tension that are offered in the WreSpi series. It’s an innovative take on the traditional wrestling game that offers a lot of features not found in other games, including those in the TEW series. Wrestling Spirit 1 was a success, and I have no doubt that WreSpi 2 will garner a lot of fan support too. It’s a very easy game to enjoy if you have an interest in wrestling, and I’m sure it will continue to add to the portfolio of excellent wrestling titles from Adam Ryland and Grey Dog Software. Wrestling Spirit 2 looks to be a winner.