WWE Day of Reckoning E3 2004 Preshow Hands-On Impressions

An updated version of THQ's newest GameCube wrestling game will be shown at E3. Find out more about it here.

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We last saw THQ's new wrestling game, WWE Day of Reckoning, when it was announced just prior to WrestleMania XX. That version of the game only contained four characters and showcased two matches. THQ recently showed off an updated version of the game and talked a bit about the game's story-driven, single-player mode.

The character select screen isn't complete, so there's no full roster available at this time, but the WWE superstars on display in this version are Triple H, Chris Benoit, Stacy Keibler, Trish Stratus, Christian, John Cena, Randy Orton, Bautista, and Kane. The wrestler models looks pretty sharp. There's been some definite work put into making facial expressions look realistic.

The version of the game on display didn't have the single-player mode implemented, but we heard a few things about it. For those unfamiliar with the mode, the school of hard knocks mode is a career mode that starts you out on the bottom rung of the professional wrestling ladder. You're working in no-name matches against no-name wrestlers outside of the WWE. You'll eventually prove yourself, earn a WWE contract, and get caught up in the soap-operatic angles of the WWE itself. In an interesting twist, Triple H will apparently approach your wrestler early on in his WWE career and ask you to lose a match on purpose in order to advance the career of one of H's up-and-coming protégés. Doing the job for Triple H's boy will have consequences later on in your career, but that isn't your only option. You can play to win, instead, which, as you might expect, puts Triple H and his posse on your back almost immediately. These sorts of twists and turns make the story-driven career mode sound much more engaging than previous attempts at story modes in wrestling games.

On the gameplay side, things seem pretty solid. The striking and grapple system is the same sort of "tap for weak, press for strong" system that previous games have used. On the match side, expect to see all the standard matches, like hardcore rules, tag-team matches, triple threat, hell in a cell, cage matches, and, for the first time on the GameCube, the ever-popular bra and panties match.

One thing that seemed out of the ordinary was the game's speed. The version on display was running quite fast. The developers are currently fiddling with the speed of the game, and the possibility of including multiple speed settings is also currently under review. At its current lightening-fast pace, the game is extremely action-packed and a blast to play, though some of the more strategic-styled players may prefer a slightly slower, more counter-friendly speed setting.

All told, Day of Reckoning is looking like a pretty sharp wrestling game that fans of the genre should find pleasing. We'll have more on WWE Day of Reckoning as it becomes available.

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