Reviewed: September 23, 2004
Released: August 30, 2004
WWE Day of Reckoning unlike its predecessor, Wrestlemania XIX, isn’t named after an annual WWE event. It is however the newest Gamecube wrestling game from Japanese developer Yukes.
Featuring an expanded story mode, better wrestler presentation, and a roster finally including legends. Day of Reckoning, on the surface, looks to be everything Wrestlemania XIX was and more. But does the execution vault it ahead to the top of the heap of GameCube wrestlers?
Being the next game after Wrestlemania XiX, any similarities aren’t coincidental. Day of Reckoning’s controls are practically identical to XiX’s. Grapple is done with the A button, you have a strong and weak, B is for striking attacks, L and R and forms of blocks, Y is hold, X is run, etc.
The controls do what they are supposed to; they are very responsive and intuitive. You have a wide range of attacks, holds, turnbuckle moves, specials, quite the arsenal. Weight is also factored in this year, so if you want a wee little guy to be slamming Andre or Big Show, you’d better have a well-rested finger for the mashing needed to pull off such a feat.
The Story mode is quite different from the “beat-em-up-esque” one found in XiX. This is an actual honest to God wrestling story. Using a created superstar you must climb the ranks of the WWE from lowly jobber to world champion. The usual WWE pageantry and soap opera twists and turns are along for the ride.
It is also of note that you cannot use actual superstars in the career mode at all. A large omission, but one probably done to make the story mode more “life-like.” You can also unlock items in the Shopzone using the points you accumulate in Career mode.
If you don’t feel like slogging through the story mode, a plethora of exhibition matches await you. All the standards are here, TLC, ladder, Hell in the Cell, the whole shebang. New this year to the GameCube is the slightly risqué “Bra and Panties” match.
The matches themselves play out mostly like their real life counter part. Some are a bit tough and this is mostly due to the inordinate amount of time it takes you to get up. Even the computer is slow to their feet, but it really feels like time stands still sometimes when you’re flat on your back.
Each match type also allows a further degree of customization, time limits, DQ’s, first blood and so on. Some matches can accommodate up to four players, making this an ideal party game if you and your friends enjoy wrestling.
The Roster has some of today’s hottest stars, but it is really, really small. Other wrestling games don’t include the full roster and this is quite understandable, but Day of Reckoning merely picks some of the popular ones and leaves a VERY large selection out in the proverbial cold.
Hardest hit are the Diva’s, the sole players in the Bra and Panties match-ups are limited to a paltry four players, not including a more complete woman’s roster is simply inexcusable in such a situation.
The menus are not over all flashy or exciting, but they are very legible and easy to navigate through. The loading screens however use static pictures and they appear very washed out and not very crisp.
The Wrestler’s themselves look very good. Not enough you’d confuse watching the game with watching actual wrestling (but then again, no game is like that.) They do look a noticeably better then the ones in XiX, but still don’t approach the level of Smackdown or Raw.
Each wrestler has their own entrance, which accurately portray the spectacle, theme music, suitable pyrotechnics, strutting, etc. Each arena has its own visual flair and is modeled on either a weekly program (Raw and/or Smackdown) or other WWE mainstay events such as Summerslam, Heat, etc.
Day of Reckoning also has a very robust Create-a-Wrestler (CAW.) It has almost any option you could think of, you can individually adjust the shape of the persons face, the length and width of their nose, how big their cheekbones are, etc. Ring attire is pretty robust, and more can be bought in the Shopzone.
So you also have a veritable closet of outfits, masks, gloves, boots, etc. Custom move sets can also be unlocked and applied to a created wrestler, some are even move sets for certain wrestlers not in the game.
The game also lacks progressive scan and/or widescreen support. Would be nice if they would include it at some point, but since some people can’t even take advantage of it, it’s not that big of a deal I suppose.
The main menu has a background track playing through it, some matches have musical accompaniment. Each wrestler has their own entrance theme. They all sound very good without any hissing or popping.
The story mode is the big let down as it is entirely text driven, not a sound is uttered during the course of it (excepting the crowd noise of course.) There is also no commentary during the match. Having the entire story mode in spoken word might be unfeasible, but they should’ve had at least some speech.
First and foremost, there is plenty to keep you entertained in the Shopzone. You can unlock arena’s, individual moves; move sets, clothing, etc. This alone gives you reason to complete the story mode. New stuff, be it WWE Legends, or more development points for your wrestler are also unlocked when you complete story mode.
There are also plenty match types to keep you entertained. The fact four people can use most of them only adds to the length. The roster is about the only sticking point but, like a sports game, the longevity depends a great deal on how well you like the sport the game is based on.
Taken together, Day of Reckoning is pretty much the real deal. A great wrestling game with a bevy of match types, a story mode that is great in function, and plenty of wrestlers to keep you entertained.
Unfortunately, the game is not without flaws, serious issues with the roster (those not on it) the decision to leave out voice work for the cinematics, and the difficulty in some aspects leave much to be desired.
The game itself still has a great blending of wresting and “sports entertainment” so if you won’t that signature WWE feel you won’t be disappointed. Flaws and all, this is THE best wrestler for GameCube, bar none. Bottom line, if you like the WWE and wrestling, you will enjoy this game.