Wrasslin' on da 'cube!
Wed, 17 November 2004
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Gamecube owning wrestling fans finally have a decent WWE title to grapple with. Sure, Day Of Reckoning doesn't quite capture the championship, but it proves itself to be a worthwhile contender. And this could win the title of most clichéd opening paragraph I've ever written.
For the single player the mode you'll be playing first is most likely to be the story mode. Before you can undertake (no pun intended) the story mode however, you'll have to create a wrestler of your own. You can't use an existing superstar in story mode, you have to be an unknown and work your way up the ranks.
The create a wrestler function has long been one of my favourite parts of wrestling games and the one in Day Of Reckoning works very well. I was able to make a pretty close approximation of Spiderman and give him all the most kick arse moves.
The game's story mode is predictable fair; various plot twists and things take place, alliances are formed and broken and all the kinds of thing we see on the WWE TV shows. You really have no control over how any of these go down though. The only choice you get to make is whether you wrestle on the RAW or Smackdown roster, everything else is pre-determined. It would have been better if several possible story arcs were possible, this would also provide incentive to play through the story mode more than once. Even so the plotlines are amusing enough and mimic what fans are used to seeing to an admirable degree.
The grappling system in Day of Reckoning is simple yet effective. For weak grapples you tap the A button. For strong grapples you hold down the A button. Pressing different directions on the control stick allows you perform different moves. The strong grapples do more damage, but are more likely to be countered. The striking attacks works the same way, except you use the B button. The countering, using R for strikes or L for grapples, works nicely; if you time it correctly almost all situations can be reversed. If you've played these types of games before it should seem very comfortable and if you haven't it won't take too long for you to get used to it.
There are many other moves too, like top rope stuff, submission holds and special finishing moves. Mostly everything is nice and easy to pull off, though occasionally there are some control problems. The running moves, for instance, seem a bit retarded and don't quite hit correctly and tagging your partner or getting in or out of the ring sometimes doesn't register right away. It can be a bit frustrating, but never bad enough to ruin the game.
I still most enjoy the old N64 wrestling games that AKI did - like No Mercy - where it was methodical, but you felt like some degree of strategy was required. Day of Reckoning strikes a decent balance between that pace and the faster, more arcade like speed of most recent (Yukes developed) wrestling games. For me, it still doesn't play as well as No Mercy though. I'd be happy if THQ just remade that game with better graphics. Oh well, I can dream.
There are some good touches to the gameplay. Location specific damage means you can work on a certain body part and then put on a submission hold and make your opponent give up. Weight comes into the equation; big fat blokes are harder to throw around than little skinny buggers. Then there's the "momentum shift" where you can be getting your arse totally kicked and suddenly turn the tables and get back in with a chance. Oh and there's blood! You can bust your opponents head open, which is always nice.
On the downside, in the end it often makes little difference which moves you use and as such it can feel a bit too "button mash" friendly.
Day of Reckoning has a variety of match types to indulge in. Table, ladder and chair matches, cage matches, hell in a cell matches. So that's all pretty cool. It is annoying that you have to throw an opponent into the cell a few times in order to break it, instead of being able to walk out a door. As a result of this setting up a fight on top of the cell sort of ends up being more trouble than it is worth. The bra and panties match is also included, where you get two of the bimbos to rip each other's clothes off. I'll stick to real porn thanks.
The graphics are pretty impressive but for a few exceptions. The character models are solid but some of the textures aren't up to the highest standards the Gamecube is capable of. They look more like PS2 quality textures. The hair and skin in particular look noticeably unrealistic. Compare it to a Gamecube title with top quality textures- like Super Smash Bros. and you will know what I mean. However the animations, facial expressions, entrances, arenas and most other aspects of the game look extremely good. The multiple angles and slow motion effects when you hit a special move are awesome too. So, all told, this is a good looking game.
The sound is a bit disappointing in that there are no voices whatsoever. None of the wrestlers speak; the story mode is advanced using text. There's no match commentary at all either. On the up side, most of the wrestler's entrance themes are included, excluding those with licensing issues, such as Ric Flair's. There are also a selection of songs that play during the matches themselves- including Bring the Noise from Anthrax and Public Enemy! How did that end up with all the "nu metal" (or whatever they're calling it these days) songs from all these interchangeable new bands? Oh well, it takes me back to my reckless teen years at least. While these songs are suitable enough, they do get repetitive after a while. The sounds of all the punches and kicks and bones getting mangled should satisfy your bloodlust nicely.
As far as Day of Reckoning's difficulty goes, the story mode starts off dead easy and gets a bit trickier as you go. But for a good challenge, and if you want the game to last you a longer, I'd recommend setting the game to at least the second hardest mode from the get go. Then the AI does a good job of reversing your moves and the matches get a lot more interesting.
The only time the AI completely falls apart is in the tag team matches. The computer rarely, if ever, makes a tag. Bit of a bummer, but I'm sure we'll live.
Besides, wrestling games always shine most when played with others. Get up to four people battling it out at once on this sucka and you'll have yourself a damn good time.
There's a list of over 40 different wrestlers included in the game. You can unlock some legends like Andre the Giant and Bret "The Hitman" Hart too. If you find any of your favourites missing you can always build them using the create-a-superstar tools. I still grin when I see my Spiderman hitting a "stone cold stunner".
If you are a Gamecube owning wrestling fan I can safely recommend WWE Day of Reckoning for purchase. If you are a poodle owning Volvo fan...you're probably at the wrong webstite.
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