WWE Day of Reckoning (GameCube) Review

By Nick Cheesman 20.10.2004

It has not been since the days of the Nintendo 64 that Nintendo owners had a wrestling game they could be proud of, while Playstation owners were enjoying the greatness of the Smackdown series, GameCube owners only had the poor Wrestlemania series to turn to and things didn't seem as those they would improve. Then came the first screens of the impressive looking Day of Reckoning, and from then on it looked as if WWE had finally come back to GameCube.

The premise of wrestling is one that people are split between. Whether or not grown sweaty men wearing tight spandex hitting each other is cool or not. For those who are less inclined to this great past time, there is little for them to enjoy. For the rest of us this is almost as good as it gets, resembling the revolutionary WWF No Mercy in more ways than one.

One of the greatest flaws of the previous games has been how the wrestler models have been painfully poor compared to Smackdown, in DOR that has all been changed. Each and every wrestler looks just like they do in real life and the detail found on them is far superior to anything seen previously. Most of this is all due to the effective use of lighting that makes the wrestlers muscles even more obvious and realistic. What is more all the animations, from walking, to the performing of moves, all look realistic and there are no awkward moments where the realism takes a dive. When put in submission locks, wrestlers actually roar with pain and stretch their hands towards the ropes. As well as this, with the new location specific damage feature, wrestlers will limp, holding their heads and arms in pain after being worked over.

The arenas themselves are amazing, gone are the card board cut out crowds and replaced with individual crowd animations. While not being vast in number, it looks impressive and is a much needed change from the old days. Of course, the crowd is not who you will be looking at when your wrestler strolls down the ramp, as the new wrestler entrances are simply beautiful. The pyros, the various camera angles and lighting changes, all give an amazing effect to the entrances, as do the various animations. Take for example the Undertaker, in previous games he stands at the ring side and leans his head back, trying to imitate his trademark rolling his eyes into the back of his head. Now, you get a close up of him actually doing it. And it is also good to know, that once again you can make your opponents bleed, but what is more there is an cut scene of opponents grabbing their faces as the blood begins to flow. You can not make women bleed for some baffling reason, but we assume it is because women do not bleed and are not actually human. Or it is because you may feel bad for beating up a women. It is this level of detail that makes the presentation of DOR so much more impressive than past attempts.

Screenshot for WWE Day of Reckoning on GameCube

Along with the incredible entrances, comes the full volume entrance music for each wrestler, which thankfully are all correct, and not outdated as is usually the case. Meanwhile during matches themselves, there is an impressive soundtrack on offer including Public Enemy's "Bring the Noise" which is a change from the repetitive game themes usually thrown into match play. Fortunately the background sound does not deter away from the gameplay, and you can still hear the crowd's cheers and numerous chants, from "You Suck!" to "Holy...", along with the impressive sounds from the impact of moves and punches, as well as the slam on the mat. It is the full package, and adds to the game immensely.

While the game aesthetics obtained everyone's attentions at first, what kept up the interest was THQ's boasting of all new enhanced gameplay. In many ways it is no way enhanced, merely lifted straight from No Mercy, and really it was about time the use of strong and weak grapples was implemented on the next generation consoles. The controls are still pretty much the same as before, A is used to grapple, a single tap for a weak grapple and hold it down for a strong grapple. Weak grapples do less damage and are hard to counter, while strong grapples are more damaging but there is more of a risk of them being countered. And unfortunately there is a very large of risk of this taking place.

Now added to the game is the relatively straight forward countering system, that sounds easy, but is actually quite a challenge to use effectively. When a move is performed on you, either L or R will appear above your adrenaline bar. L for a grapple and R for a strike move. Press the L or R trigger at the right moment and you will have successfully countered. It is easy to pull off when your wrestler has a high counter rating, but starting off in story mode with a relatively low one makes things a little trickier. Also your opponent will always be an expert at countering and so every move you perform you will have to ready yourself for the screen flash to symbolize a successful counter. This can be very frustrating especially when your opponent has been beaten senseless and suddenly from nowhere they counter a move such as your special, which can be countered by pressing L and R at the same time.

Screenshot for WWE Day of Reckoning on GameCube

Specials are still performed by pressing A and B together, and in a similar vein to Smackdown are acquired after you perform several moves to fill your special bar, and are then accounted for as a W, another W and an E. Which surprisingly spells WWE. The moves look impressive as ever, when performed multiple camera angles are shown, zooming in on the move, and even inverting in colour as the move hits. As usual, there is a wide variety of moves to do, from back grapples, submissions, high risk maneuvers courtesy of the Y button pressed when near a turn buckle, and all new weapon grapples. These can be obtained by picking up a weapon from under the ring, using the X-button, and then grappling your opponent. With a chair moves like the Van Dam-inator can be performed, or with the fire extinguisher you can spray your opponent with the white stuff. What is more impressive, is that weapons actually break apart as you use them, the bell can break off, but the board is still useful, the crutch handle may fly into the crowd, but the crutch can still be used on your opponents head. Weapons buckle and splinter on your opponent, and looks painful as it happens.

Many new features have now been added also, which replace your adrenaline meter at points. Lock in a submission and a bar will appear with "SUBMIT" and "ESCAPE" at two ends. Bash the A-button enough and you will move the yellow dot to escape, or if you are getting submitted it will allow you to escape. If a part of your body is worked on over time it will become increasingly easier to you there. Also as moves are performed and your adrenaline goes from green to red, the ease of pulling off moves and submitting opponents will increase, and your opponent's adrenaline will reach danger levels of blue and be in danger of being Knocked Out. Luckily, if you are beaten to blue, the momentum shift ability is at hand, which is a move performed by pressing A and B at the same time, such as Ric Flair's eye poke, that makes your opponents and your own adrenaline switch over, usually giving the person who performed the move a better momentum. However it can only be done once in a match, being a nice last ditch attempt move. Taken from the previous games also is the bar for trying to lift heavier opponents. Attempt to slam the Big Show as John Cena and a bar will appear, hammer A to move the dot to the top, to actually slam the huge wrestler, but a high spirit will be required to do so.

The new mechanics here do work very well, and the only flaws come in the form of slight problems such as sometimes you have to move your position to climb back into the ring by holding Y and you may pin an opponent even when you meant to lock in a hold. The opponent AI is also impressive, when your opponent is beaten down, if they get a chance to get their breath back, they will hit the referee, grab a weapon and use it on you. Sadly a computer partner in tag matches is not as clever as this, and it often becomes a handicap match when you have a computer controlled wrestler in your corner.

Screenshot for WWE Day of Reckoning on GameCube

As usual a large variety of matches will be on offer, such as tag matches, handicaps, fatal four ways, Royal Rumbles and triple threat matches, along with several modes, such as hardcore, cage, Hell in a Cell, Table, TLC, iron man and ladder matches. But of course the one GameCube owners care about is the Bra and Panties match. Although you can only choose four lovely Divas to undress, when you have your opponent beaten pressing A on your opponent will have you try and rip their shirt or dress off, or it can be done by holding down the control stick and pressing Y. Entertaining indeed. Then of course there is the all new School of Hard Knocks story, where you create your own wrestler, and then sign him into the WWE courtesy of Vince McMahon, working your way from WWE Training to WWE Heat to finally choosing your side on either RAW or Smackdown and joining the stable on either side. However like all stories, twist and turns take place due to FMVs at intervals where the plot thickens. All of this concludes with you working your way to Wrestlemania to compete for the World title. As you progress in each match you get training points to build up strength, stamina, charisma, submission, counter and speed, until you have made the ultimate wrestler. As well as this, secret characters like WWE Legends Andre the Giant and Bret "The Hitman" Heart are unlocked as you get further in the story, and although not vast in number, it is a nice addition. You can not take already known female wrestlers or WWE Superstars into story mode, mainly as it goes against the script of the story, but luckily the create a wrestler makes up for this.

The amount of detail that there is in the Create-a-Wrestler this time round is amazing, being able to alter any body part, from chins to eyebrows in size and colour, along with large amounts of clothes, hair, tattoos; there is even a paint programme to draw your own logos and accessories to gear your wrestlers with. It is truly in-depth. Unfortunately several former WWE Superstars are missing from the roster, Steve Austin, Brock Lesnar for example and even some current wrestlers like JBL and the Dudley Boyz, but thankfully all the moves are present to create them yourself. Also Shop Zone is at hand for you to buy new clothes, moves, weapons and arenas with all the money you have earned in the School of Hard Knocks. Unfortunately some match modes are not present, like Special referee matches and the Elimination chamber, and old options found in past games are missing, like the ability to make stables or have more than four people in the ring. However the incredibly fun multiplayer found in all wrestling games with all the long awaited improvements, makes this easily the best wrestling game on the GameCube.

Screenshot for WWE Day of Reckoning on GameCube

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

The best wrestling game on the GameCube? Easily. The best wrestling game ever made? Not really, it is a very enjoyable game and has an excellent array of features, visuals and sounds, but the game does seem to have key points missing in places and the countering system holds it back from being the greatest wrestler ever. If what is here can be built upon in future, then the GameCube could very well have the best wrestler on its hands once again.

Developer

Yuke's

Publisher

THQ

Genre

Sport

Players

4

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (2 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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