Day of Reckoning 2 (Gamecube) & Smackdown vs. Raw 06 (PSP)
Tue, 4 April 2006
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Firstly, thanks to THQ, for all the sweet wrestling game action they've provided me with. I have been wrasslin' up a storm on my Gamecube and PSP (as well as PS2) for some time and loving every minute of it. Wrestling in game form is really the best way for me to do it, as I don't think anyone wants to see me in tights in real life. And if you do, that's cool, but you should probably keep it to yourself, or you may find yourself with far fewer friends (particularly if you're male). I intended to review these two games (and a heap of other things for that matter) much sooner, but was unable to get that done, due to circumstances beyond my control. Nevertheless, they are both still well worth talking about, especially if you are both a gamer and a wrestling fanatic, like me.
I'll start with...
Day of Reckoning 2 for Gamecube:
This one was actually developed before Smackdown vs. Raw 06, which is easy to tell by the slightly more dated roster it features. Anyway, I'm always stoked to review anything for the mighty little 'cube; I love the system, but you just don't get nearly as many games for it as the others.
The first Day of Reckoning was an enjoyable enough game. If Gamecube was the only system you had, and you wanted a wrestling game, it did the job fairly well. This follow up is much improved. It is no longer a case of just being a passable wrestling game, due to a lack of alternatives. DoR 2 is a genuinely good game in its own right that stands up very well to any other wrestling game you compare it to.
DoR 2 has fixed the majority of problems that dragged the first game down several notches. For ages I (and many other people) have been asking for a wrestling game that played like the N64's No Mercy, with updated graphics. Well, that's basically what Day of Reckoning 2 is like, so we finally got our wish!
The controls and grappling system are wonderfully simple; easy to use, but not lacking in depth. They've really balanced that out beautifully this time around. Once you get your skills up you can block or reverse out of almost any situation, if you time it right. There are also a great variety of different moves at your disposal. The matches are enhanced by the ability to perform all kinds of cool bonus actions; crazy high flying manoeuvres, jumping off ladders, piledriving an opponent through the announcer's table or busting his noggin open with a "hellacious" (as JR would say) chair shot.
If you'd prefer to go at it as a more technical style grappler, Day of Reckoning 2 has you covered there too. Go ahead and work on a particular part of your opponent's body and then force him to submit to a painful submission hold, after all making the dude quit is more humiliating than just pinning him right?
|It's all about the game and how you play it. |
Pretty much every match type you could think of is included as well. Basically, you can spend hours with this game discovering different ways to beat the piss out of people and, if you ask me, that's what quality gaming is all about.
If you have some friends to play the game with it will last you even longer. The multi-player modes are extremely entertaining and should keep you and your chums happy for ages.
Another area in which DoR 2 tops its predecessor is the single player career mode. The storyline to it is pretty corny, but sufficient enough for what it is. It doesn't feature the wrestler's speaking in their real voices (like Smackdown vs. Raw does), instead still using text to convey the dialogue, but that didn't bother me at all. You now have more choices as far as how the story progresses, you get a much better sense of your guy improving in skill as it goes along and it is just all laid out in a much more interesting way than the last game. I couldn't see too many people going through it more than once, but there's more reason to do that now than there was before. It held my interest from beginning to end and that's really all I'd hope for.
Like the last game, you have to create your own wrestler to take through the career mode, which some may find disappointing. The "create a superstar" setup is reasonably good, but less impressive than the one Smackdown vs. Raw has. For one thing I'd like to see more possible variations of body types. For instance, you can't really make a huge fat bloke. What helped it to win me over once again though, was that I was able to make Spider-Man. A really good Spidey too, he looks just like the "real" one. So, that was enough to make me happy. Another cool addition is the paint tool, where you can create your own designs to put on your characters. It is a bit fiddly and you'd have to be pretty keen to get the most out of it, but I certainly won't complain about them providing the option.
Day of Reckoning 2 is also pretty darn impressive from a technical standpoint. I suppose you could say that it is like the last one, only better. That's still a compliment, since the first one was quite a looker and the visuals are now even harder to fault. I didn't even turn off the ring entrances for quite some time, because they are just so well done and enjoyable to watch. The character models are even more solid now, excellently animated and textured much better to boot. In some places DoR 2 is superior graphically to Smackdown vs. Raw 06, while in other areas it isn't quite as good. It is a safe bet either way though; both games are fantastic to look at. It boggles my mind to think how lifelike the wrestling games are going to look on the next generations of consoles, since they're already so good on these current systems.
This game's audio isn't as good as Smackdown vs. Raw's, presumably due to less storage space allowed by the Gamecube medium. It is good enough though. The music in the game is probably okay, but I'm just not a fan of the kind of stuff they included, so I switched that off from the get go. All the sound effects are perfectly fitting though, which I consider much more important in a wrestling game. The crowd chants and reactions are quite well done, albeit a touch repetitive. What's lacking is, as I already mentioned, no voices. Not from the wrestlers themselves, or commentary during matches. Frankly though, I tend to get sick of hearing that anyway so I didn't lose any sleep over that particular omission.
So, to all of you wrestling fans, I am very pleased to say that Day of Reckoning 2 is an absolute beauty. It is certainly very similar to the last game, but I honestly think you should still buy it even if you already have that one. The AI (while it still plays up on occasion) is vastly better this time. The presentation is even more polished. Most importantly, the controls and gameplay have been significantly tightened up and the result is a game that is much more fun to play. If you're not into wrestling, you could probably still enjoy this as a fighting game. But this one will definitely appeal most to the WWE fans. There are heaps of great little touches put in especially for enthusiasts, so if you consider yourself one, you can't go wrong with Day of Reckoning 2.
I'll give this sucka a 9 out of 11. I wouldn't go as far as saying it is better than Smackdown vs. Raw 06, but they each have a slightly different "feel" and are almost equally enjoyable, in ways of their own. Therefore you should really play 'em both, if you can. That leads me to the second review; you can check that out right now, included below!
Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 for Sony PSP:
Are you a fan of Jake "The Snake" Roberts? I certainly am and that's one of the reasons I was glad they sent me this game. In order to access Jake in the PlayStation 2 version of Smackdown vs. Raw 06 (which the Gimmick reviewed for us a while back) you'll need a copy of the PSP game. On the one hand, that provides a nice little incentive to get both versions. On the other hand, it is really a bit rich to expect people to purchase two copies of what is essentially the exact same game, just to unlock a single extra character. Oh well, I guess they have to pay their bills somehow.
Since this is, as I just said, basically identical to the PS2 version, I won't go into too much detail. Gimmick has already covered it.
First and foremost, you might wish to know whether or not I think it is worth getting Smackdown vs. Raw 06 if you already own it for PS2. The answer is, only if you are out and about a lot. If you travel on a train to work daily, or something like that, it'd certainly be worth your while to have a copy that you can play on the go. Otherwise, you're better off sticking with the home version. They've gotten it remarkably close, but this game is still not quite as good on the PSP. It isn't that the machine doesn't have the muscle to handle it, just a matter of having less space on the UMD format.
The biggest problem is the increased loading times. They are way longer on PSP and can be really annoying. If you try to have a match full of created wrestlers, forget about it, you'll be a year older by the time the bout starts. The other area in which the conversion has taken a hit is the graphics, but only really with the crowds. Instead of the pretty impressive 3D models on PS2, it has gone back to those ugly flat Stanley looking bastards. No major deal though and easy enough to ignore. Another slight problem is that, just due to the system's physical size, if you have a match with a bunch of guys in the ring at once, things can get a bit hard to see when the camera zooms out. But, other than that, it looks absolutely great and at times the PSP's superb screen quality enables the wrestlers (though you can tell that some of the models have less polys here) to appear even sharper than on PS2.
The match commentators are gone in this version as well. Like I said in the DoR2 review though, that's not something I consider a big problem. The wrestler's voices in season mode, ring announcers (during entrances), entrance music, crowd chants and sound effects are all still included. They work very nicely, particularly when you use headphones.
Just because this is a port, we shouldn't overlook the fact that Smackdown vs. Raw 06 for PSP is still quite an achievement. This is easily the best handheld wrestling game ever made. The Fire Pro Wrestling games on GBA were pretty cool, but (to the best of my knowledge) they didn't even get released in Australia. Every other portable wrestling game (and, yes, I have played all of them) has ranged from poor to atrocious, so this is a massive step up. If you're a PSP owner and want a wrestling game for the system, you'll be laughing with Smackdown vs. Raw 06.
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A top notch conversion of what is currently the very best wrestling game available.