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WWE Day of Reckoning Review for GameCube
Posted on Thursday, November 04, 2004 @ 02:07:42 am E.S.T

No matter what you think of professional wrestling, the squared circle is a place of legends. Whether it is Hulk Hogan powerslamming Andre the Giant at Wrestlemania III or Shawn Michaels winning back-to-back Royal Rumbles in 1995 and 1996, the WWE makes wrestling entertainment. Not limiting themselves to the television, they have attempted to capture the excitement of their high-fliers and mat technicians with video games for many years. Their recent lackluster Wrestlemania X8 and XIX titles, however, have done little to quell the thirst for an ace WWE game. So, in a renewed effort, WWE Day of Reckoning for the cubic purple console has been released. Differing from the two Wrestlemania games in many ways, Day of Reckoning proves to be the premier wrestling game for the Gamecube, although it has its bruises.

First off, and most notably, the absolutely horrendous Revenge Mode from Wrestlemania XIX has been scrapped in favor of a Story Mode. In it, you go from a meager jobber of the WWE Developmental to a high-class main-eventer of either Raw or Smackdown. But there is a quirk here: you must go through the mode with your own created wrestler. Luckily for us mammals, the Create-A-Wrestler mode is even more in-depth and customizable than ever. From changing the size of the chin of the wrestler to the pattern of the shoes, if you can imagine yourself as a wrestler (or you just want to be a six foot tall guy with a horn), you can make it in Day of Reckoning. There are several annoying flaws however. For example, the patterns you can create can not be put on bottom wear of your wrestler and players do not have the option of giving their jobber entrance attire. Neither of these problems matter a great deal to the overall mode but, if fixed, would have given the Create-A-Wrestler mode a golden glow. Overall, just as a wrestling game should have, the modes of play are diverse and executed well.

In Exhibition mode, up to four players can grip and grapple each other or throw each other off of cages. As expected, putting your created ringmaster against a friend’s is fun and well done. All of the standard match types for the Exhibition mode are here along with a new addition, the bra and panties match. Frankly, it is quite pointless. One gripe I have with it is that you can’t wrestle as any of your created divas, leaving you with only four women to “play” with. For us males, this is a bit of an imagination killer. But, with alcohol, who really cares? Now let’s move on to something different.

There is a key issue I have with WWE Day of Reckoning’s roster: the size of it. While 40 superstars may seem enough, it certainly doesn’t seem that great while playing the title. In the Story Mode for example, no matter which brand is picked, the same singles competitors and tag teams are prevalent. Players may face the same wrestler two or three times in a row with only the match type changing, which can grind away at the their teeth. To show how lacking the roster is, you must know this: when this game was released, Smackdown’s WWE Champion and Tag Team Champions were absent, along with Raw’s Tag Team Champs. How did this happen? My mind draws dead. If THQ had taken the time to add the Dudley Boyz, La Resistance, and various other commonplace WWE tag teams and singles competitors, Day of Reckoning would be burnished into a gem in terms of the roster.

The wresting engine used, however, is tried and effective. Stemming from the N64 days, Day of Reckoning employs the grapple and counter system from No Mercy and its predecessors. The gist of the system is that you have a grapple button and a strike button, each doing a myriad of different things depending on the state of the control stick. These controls are just as effective and solid as ever and prove to be a high card in this title’s poker hand. One exceptionally well executed aspect of Day of Reckoning is the counter system; the left trigger counters grapples and the right counters strikes. From a personal view, there is nothing quite as rewarding as countering a countered counter into a pinfall. Once the player becomes fluent in the game’s controls, countering streams and near-falls will be abound, emulating professional wrestling fantastically.

Moving on, in the visual department, Day of Reckoning is as beautiful as Halle Berry in Catwoman, minus the crappy movie. The renderings of the wrestlers are about as photorealistic as they can get and are a considerable upgrade from the Wrestlemania games. Now add the fact that the arenas, items, menus, and the crowd are gorgeous as well, and you got some sweet eye candy. Wrestlers’ intros are taken straight from the TV and help add to the feel of the game. Story Mode’s cinematics are also graphically pleasing as well, meaning that Yuke’s did a wondrous job of stepping up the visuals and they deserve a pat on the head (not with a steel chair though).

Audibly, if you like rock and alternative music, than Day of Reckoning will fill your head with great tunes. Groups such as Breaking Benjamin, Zebrahead, and Tantric have supplied some wicked songs to the game and will have your head thumping. The wrestlers’ themes are here and profiled nicely, although Ric Flair and Stacy Keibler’s music is missing. Also, everything is covered when it comes to the wrestling moves and ring maneuvers. If Rey Mysterio falls from the top of a ladder to the mat, you are going to hear a convincing thud. Steel chair shots, breaking tables, crutch hits to the back (yes, a crutch is a weapon), and other weapon moves are enjoyable to listen to when you use them. After all, who doesn’t like to hear a good sickening crack to the spine every once in a while? Overall, Day of Reckoning has an awesome soundtrack and convincing sound effects, which helps the quality of the title.

Due to the impressive game controls, the replay value gets a boost as well. At anytime, you can simply pop in the disk and play a quick, enjoyable exhibition match. Going back again and again playing as different wrestlers will keep you returning long after you complete Story Mode, which lacks in replay value. Simply put, going through the exact same story with duplicated dialogue and wrestlers isn’t satisfactory. Had Yuke’s made the Raw and Smackdown brands more different, it would have had a better lifespan. In short, after playing through Story Mode twice, you will probably never touch it again. Another addicting aspect is creating more and more wrestlers. Having up to 16 created wrestlers at once, it is guaranteed that many will be tweaking and perfecting their digital selves long after they take the WWE crown in Story Mode. On the whole though, Day of Reckoning definitely has more than enough replay value in the Exhibition mode and Create-A-Wrestler mode to more than suffice.

WWE Day of Reckoning is now the premier Gamecube wrestling title, besting the Wrestemania games. Although the Story Mode is adequate at best, it is supreme compared to Wrestlemania XIX’s Revenge Mode, which makes it worthwhile. Also, if you feel like you would like to make a very detailed and extremely customizable wrestler, this title will burn many hours of your life. So, if you don’t feel like grabbing a pair of tights and wrestling a 300 pound dude, this is the next best thing for you are a Cube owner.

Review By: Flamecuber - 3609 Reads

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