WWE Day of Reckoning Review
Day of Reckoning is truly the first great WWE game on the GameCube.
It hasn't been an easy console generation for fans of both Nintendo and the WWE. During the era of the Nintendo 64, the system was easily at the top of the heap when it came to quality wrestling games, thanks largely to the effort of developer Aki's work on each of the N64's marquee grapplers. Then along came the GameCube, and with it a new developer, the creator of the PlayStation 2-exclusive SmackDown! franchise, Yuke's. Two GameCube wrestling games have been produced up to this point, and neither one is anything special, feeling more like afterthoughts to the SmackDown! games than anything else. For its third attempt on the Cube, WWE Day of Reckoning, Yuke's has put forth a far more convincing effort than in previous years. Featuring great graphics, a more-than-solid gameplay engine, and finally a story mode worth playing through, Day of Reckoning is truly the first great WWE game on the GameCube.
For those who are familiar with last year's WrestleMania XIX, or any of the Aki-produced wrestling games, Day of Reckoning's gameplay will probably feel like old hat. It's based on the tried-and-true weak and strong striking and grappling mechanics of old, and the only real differences in the basic gameplay are pacing and counters. The pacing of the matches is slightly more methodical this time around, though it still has an overall quick feel. Essentially, it's easier to plot out your moves and figure out exactly how you want to attack rather than just mindlessly hitting the grapple and strike buttons while hoping for the best.
This is good, because the counters in Day of Reckoning are extremely frequent. On the player side, you can still counter strikes and grapples by hitting the R and L triggers respectively, and it's about as easy (or hard, depending on your skill level) to do it as ever. However, the CPU-controlled opponents seem to be more adept at it this year. Unless your opponents have an especially weak counter rating, chances are that they will be able to counter quite a few of your moves during the course of a match. While this does keep you fairly well glued to the action, it doesn't always make for the most realistic looking matches, since it's rare to see that many counters during the course of a televised bout. Then again, the whole counter-friendly style of wrestling has never been one of the most realistic styles of wrestling gameplay to begin with, though it is one of the most fun to play. Here, the same description applies as well.
Day of Reckoning also features a couple of new elements to its gameplay: momentum shifts and a new weight-balancing system. Momentum shifts are exactly what they sound like--a sudden and abrupt shift in momentum during a match. If you're getting beaten down to the point where your momentum meter is that ever-dangerous color of dark blue, and the "danger" warning appears, you'll see an icon appear above your meter that shows the A and B buttons. If you manage to get up and then press the A and B buttons to perform a special grapple move on your opponent, you will perform a special momentum shift move that sends your momentum meter up significantly higher and sends your opponent's plummeting downward. While this might seem unfair, the good news is that you aren't necessarily guaranteed a victory by using a momentum shift. For one, you can execute only one per match, and second, while it gives you a chance to do some damage, unless you can absolutely dominate from there on out, chances are that your opponents will be able to come back, since they won't be totally decimated by the momentum shift. Still, this is a neat mechanic, and it adds a bit of variance to the pacing of each match.
Then there's the new weight system. Just like in last year's game, the size of your opponent compared to your own size greatly impacts your ability to lift him or her, which limits your roster of available moves against a larger opponent somewhat. However, rather than just making it out-and-out impossible for little guys to lift big guys, Yuke's has designed a new system that lets you lift the behemoths, albeit not without some effort. Essentially, whenever your wrestler tries to lift a heavier opponent, a meter will pop up over your momentum meter. If you quickly hammer on the A button, the meter will rise, and if you get it to the top, you'll perform the slam. This new meter is a nice addition, since it more accurately reflects what happens in real matches of this type, such as when John Cena lifted Big Show lo those many Pay-Per-Views ago.
With all of that said, while Day of Reckoning's gameplay is quite a lot of fun, it does have its flaws. For starters, the hit detection in the game is spotty in some key areas. Running attacks seem to be the most affected by this--it is oddly easy to simply blow right past an opponent with a running move, even if that opponent is completely stationary. You'll also occasionally miss strikes to downed opponents if your wrestler isn't positioned correctly. Another issue stems from the game's artificial intelligence. Make no mistake, across the board the wrestlers in Day of Reckoning are far and away much smarter than the wrestlers in any of the previous GameCube WWE games. However, while single and gimmick matches seem pretty well adjusted, tag-team matches are still a little off.
While you may frequently go for tags by nature, you don't need to. Most tag matches can easily be finished without ever having a tag-in, because your opponent will almost always wait an exceptionally long time to go for a tag. So all you have to do is hit a finisher (or two, just to be sure), shift your focus to the opposing corner, knock your opponent's partner off the ring, go back to the downed opponent and pin him, and nine times out of 10, you'll win. Again, tag matches are really the only matches that suffer from any AI issues, and the issues aren't horrible; but they do bring down the realism of tag-team bouts quite a bit.
When it comes to feature improvements, the biggest overhaul to speak of in Day of Reckoning is the new story mode. Anybody who played last year's WrestleMania XIX will tell you that the game's story mode was pretty awful. In this year's game, not only is the story good, but it's unique as well. The story in Day of Reckoning puts you in the role of a fresh-out-of-wrestling-school blue chipper of your own creation. You pick one of your previously created superstars, or create a new one, and then find yourself in a meeting with Mr. Vincent K. McMahon. Vinnie Mac says he's heard good things about you and is interested in offering you a WWE deal--if, of course, you show some moxie and perform well in the dredges of the WWE developmental league. Of course you agree, and you're off to the bottom rung of the proverbial ladder to earn your way into WWE superstardom.
- Player Reviews: 91
- Game Universe:
- WWF Raw (XBOX, 32X, GB, GG, SNES, GEN),
- WWE Crush Hour (GC, XBOX, PS2),
- WWF Royal Rumble (GEN, SNES, DC),
- WWF War Zone (N64, PS, GB),
- WWF Attitude (DC, GBC, N64, PS),
- WWF European Rampage Tour (AMI, C64),
- WWF In Your House (PC, PS, SAT),
- WWF Super Wrestlemania (GEN, SNES),
- WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2006 (PSP, PS2),
- WWF King of the Ring (GB, NES)
- Offline Modes:
Competitive, Cooperative, Team Oriented
- Number of Players: