Reviewed: September 22, 2005
Released: August 29, 2005
Easily one of the best grapplers this generation, WWE Day of Reckoning 2 is basically an update to the already-pretty-damn-sweet Day of Reckoning. Itís got pretty much everything you could ask for in a wrestling game, and it even goes on to fix some of the WWE gamesí most notable flaws.
Fans of the WWE will instantly recognize the gameís 45 wrestlers, as it offers some of the best visuals the series has ever seen. And everything a WWE fan could want in match types, arenas, and create-a-wrestler mode. Even better, the gameís story mode is probably the best one in wrestling game history. While some elements of the game donít work like theyíre meant to, it doesnít get any better than Day of Reckoning 2.
Day of Reckoning 2 offers just what youíd expect from the WWE in terms of match types entrances, grand battles in the ring, and character-on-character deceit. Most of the single-player wrestling works well, especially the much-improved hit detection. Here, if you hit your opponent, there are few-to-no copouts and cheap air strikes. If youíre hit, or miss a strike yourself, itís probably your fault.
The game plays much like the past games from Yukes has played: wrestling consists of strikes and grapples that increase intensity by hard the buttons are mashed. But there are a couple of new mechanics in Day of Reckoning 2 to consider, and all are welcome to freshen up the formula. The first is the submission mini-game. Itís basic, but it works.
When putting an opponent into a submission hold, you have four choices for your intentions. Your opponent has the same choices. If your opponent chooses the one you chose, he easily breaks out of the hold, doing some damage to you in the process. If not, depending on what you chose, you can deal the damage yourself.
Making the choice is easy, just by pressing the desired choice on the C-stick. You can choose to rest hold, which gives you back stamina (more on that in a bit); a taunt; submit (self-explanatory), or drain. Nothing changes visually here, which is a shame, but a wasted submission drains stamina, and doesnít do you much good. Draining does help take stamina from your opponent, and of course, submitting will win you the match.
Stamina is important in DoR2. Every grappler has one, and the more strenuous the move, the more your stamina drains, making you tired. If youíre tired, you move slower, react late, and are more susceptible to momentum shifts or cheap moves. It doesnít mess up the pace of the match, but it adds a bit of strategy. Drained stamina restores fairly quickly, but it still requires you to pace yourself with moves. Youíre in some trouble if your opponent gets the upper hand on you while your stamina is low.
With that said though, some things donít appear to work correctly. Oftentimes, we found ourselves pulling off our finishers several times in a row and watching opponents jump out of a pin after a 1-count. Multi-wrestler matches against the computer AI are tough. Tag Team matches, for example, just donít work right because itís rare that an opponentís teammate canít ruin whatever move/hold/pin youíre trying to pull off. And though your teammate can do the same, it turns into a useless stalemate thatís certainly not worth the effort.
Instead of a nice, brutal tag match, youíll often have to resort to cheap moves to win (like trying to beat one opponent outside the ring while your teammate pins the other inside). Other elements, such as the use of weapons, still do less damage than grapples do. The computerís AI is hit-and-miss, but mostly miss. While a tag teammate does a decent job of doing what he/she is supposed to do, there are still bouts of stupidity, like standing around for no good reason, even when having the clear advantage in the ring.
Also, your partner will return to their side during a tag match even when youíre pinned for a count. Theyíll jump in to help, but only after they return to their corner first. Then theyíll jump back in. By then itís often too late. While these incidences happen less often than in past games, they are no less damaging, often happening at the least opportune moments.
If going through the excellent, well-paced story mode, you have to use a created wrestler of your own, and though the game picks up from last yearís title, you canít import created characters over. The story is great, and even offers a few choices for you to make throughout. We wonít divulge the plot here, but rest assured that the story is probably the best youíll encounter in this type of game. At no point at all does the story feel broken or stilted. Itís full of WWE cheese sure, but at the same time, itís compelling and keeps you playing.
The create-a-wrestler (CAW) is deep, very deep, and full of even more options than last yearís game. If you plan to create a character of your own, plan to take several hours if you really want to fine-tune him/her. Moves, appearance, entrance, and even camera angles (when making your entrance) are all customizable with loads of options. Itís so deep itís almost exhausting.
Day of Reckoning 2 looks really good. Character models of the WWE superstars is clearly the titleís visual highlight, as each wrestler has been recreated faithfully, even down to the charactersí skin tones and facial details. Theyíre almost eerie in their realism, and they animate as realistically as they look. Created characters donít hold up as well, as their look is less detailed, but are still pretty good overall. The crowd and arenas look nice too, but pale in comparison to the wrestlers themselves.
Day of Reckoning 2ís big downfall is in the audio. While the entrance music for the WWE superstars is present, there are no voice-overs to be found anywhere in the game, save for the introduction of each grappler as he/she makes their entrance to the ring. It doesnít detract from the game too badly (because the rest of the game is so good), but itís certainly noticeable.
The effects are nice, and the quality is good, but the lack of voice work is one area that needs some improvement. Though it should be noted that voice work in wrestling games have been implemented badly in the past, so perhaps the lack of voice work in Day of Reckoning 2 is a good thing.
Day of Reckoning 2 is pretty good in replay value. You can hook up four players in all available match types, and for the single player in you, the story mode itself will last you a good six hours. Multiplayer is probably where the most value is though, considering the four-player match-ups and multiple match types to play around with.
Day of Reckoning 2 doesnít push the innovation bar up, and it doesnít differ too much from last yearís game, but it does make a few small additions that prove to be a bigger deal once youíre in the ring. Flaws are still present, but appear less often, and the options have been upped in almost every area for a more complete package. The play feels smooth, and the game looks great.
More options still wouldíve been welcome, and even though quality voice work is hard to find, no voice-overs at all is still a sorely-missed touch. If all the match types worked all the time, this would be the grappler to have. But even with its flaws, the excellence of whatís done right makes up for them. Fans of the WWE have their game.