At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Screenshots
Dave Wickham GameCube THQ Yuke's 1-4 Here
Requirements Buy from Amazon.co.uk
Click here to buy WWE Day of Reckoning 2.

WWE Day of Reckoning 2 review

Wrestling games are always a good source of weird names. WWF SmackDown! Just Bring It. WWE SmackDown! Shut Your Mouth. Backyard Wrestling: Don't Try This at Home. Hopefully you can imagine my disappointment at receiving the downright sensibly named WWE Day of Reckoning 2. Trying not to let this get too much in the way of my enjoyment, I started up my GameCube and began to play...

Before I go any further, I'll have to point out that I've not actually played the original DoR (much to the dismay of loyal fans), so I'll probably manage to end up mentioning things which are obvious to DoR owners. I'll try to keep this to a minimum, but just keep that in mind if I go on praising an old feature.

If you're a habitual manual reader, as I am, the first thing you'll probably notice is that the English section of the manual is miniscule, consisting of just seven pages - more of a quick start guide than a manual. Not to worry though, as DoR2 has an excellent tutorial mode, consisting of a series of "lectures" on how to perform various moves - from the basics through to "Hold the Control Stick down and tap the A Button to quickly remove the opponent's clothes" - with the option of completing a timed test afterwards to make sure you've taken it all in. It's far easier to memorise all of the moves when you're actually beating the crap out of somebody than it is to just read it in the manual and attempt to remember it.

Although it may seem strange to mention it so early on, DoR2's custom wrestler creation plays a major part in the main gameplay; story mode makes you play as your own character. So, you have your standard selection of body/stat alterations, and a whole tonne of variations of clothing, accessories, et cetera. There isn't anything remarkable about the custom character creation, though more content can be unlocked as you play through the game.

As mentioned above, one of the main features of DoR2 is its story mode, where you play as your custom character through a WWE-style storyline made up of a number of scenes (with titles such as "cheese eater"), interspersed with a number of fights. Each successful fight earns you experience points to build up your wrestler, and money to buy goodies from "WWE Shop.com". Whilst the plot isn't going to win the Booker Prize, it is the type of storyline you'd expect to see on an actual WWE show, adding to the atmosphere of the game; it breaks the monotony of just completing fight after fight with no variation in sight. Unfortunately the scenes lack any voices, which does detract from the atmosphere; whether this was done for space reasons or because of the complications of saying the custom wrestler's name (or even a combination of both), I'm unsure, but at least it doesn't detract from the gameplay.

Of course, story mode isn't the only way to play. As with just about every other wrestling game in the world, ever, there is an exhibition mode present in DoR2, allowing you to select from a wide range of arenas, match types and modifiers - and, of course, letting you select the number of players. As with story mode matches, money is earned with each fight, but experience points are not; if you want to build up your custom character's stats, you're going to have to play through that mode.

So, enough about the game types; how it actually plays is the important thing. Well, once you've gone through the tutorial, playing DoR2 is a doddle, if a bit harsh on your right thumb with all the "A" tapping that's going on. You never have to perform any tricky button combos, with the most complex moves being submission, where you choose your submission type with a single direction on the C stick. Otherwise, it's just pressing/holding a button, whilst holding a direction on the control stick. While the control system may be simple, it doesn't make the game easy; there's still a good deal of challenge involved in beating the enemy into submission, and even then there's the danger that they'll use the "Momentum Shift" and win.

The Momentum Shift is both a blessing and a curse, depending on which side you are on when it's being used. DoR2 uses your "spirit" to determine how easy you are to pin. Being on top of the match gives you high spirits, thus makes you harder to pin, and vice versa. If you're at the lowest possible spirit level (and not the kind used by builders), though, you have the option of performing a Momentum Shift. Typically this involves punching the opponent in the crotch, and completely reverses the spirit situation - their level drops to the level of yours, and yours rises to the level of theirs. As you're probably able to guess, this basically makes them a sitting duck, and you can pin them pretty much straight away.

The licenced WWE stars and the ref in DoR2 are incredibly detailed, with excellent model quality, given that it is a GameCube title. Hair moves. Mouths open. Blood drips. The crowd - understandably - has a lower poly count, and custom wrestlers look a bit out of place due to their "customness" - they've not had a professional modeller seeing to their every feature.

In fact, the graphics overall are very impressive. Superstars' entries are accurately reproduced, complete with cars and various other objects. Wounds appear nicely (how to win a multiplayer match: play against someone who can't stand the sight of virtual blood). Cutscenes, though rendered with the in-game engine, really wouldn't gain much by being prerendered. Sure, there'd be some graphical improvements (completely ignoring the fact that it would be impossible, of course), but only the most intolerant videophile will be complaining.

Although almost totally devoid of voice (entrances have a commentator giving the match type, and wrestler information), DoR2 provides a selection of heavy metal tracks (from more "underground" bands, so don't expect any Metallica) which fit in well with the general atmosphere of the game. There's not a huge selection, so no Tony Hawk's Underground 2-sized playlists, but what there is doesn't repeat too often, so tedium shouldn't develop. I'd like to have seen match-time ring-side commentary from the old Acclaim WWF games, but for whatever reason it remains absent.

DoR2 isn't by any means perfect, of course. As mentioned earlier, the lack of voice during cutscenes is a tad annoying. Often I'll find myself mistakenly taking aim at the ref, knocking him out and being punched by my opponent. It can sometimes be frustrating trying to get people to do what you want them to. Once I ran into a bug where I ended up watching my tag team partner play - unable to pin, and unpinnable - whilst my character was just standing still, uncontrollable. Another time the whole game crashed, though this could have been down to my hardware rather than the game itself. These last two issues were only encountered once, though, so hopefully they're fairly infrequent. Just remember to keep saving.

So, is it worth it? If you're a fan of WWE games, and have the spare cash, yes. Playing DoR2 is an enjoyable experience - except, of course, when your opponent uses a Momentum Shift on you - in both single- and multi-player modes. Is it worth it if you already have DoR? I honestly don't know, but my guess would be - for the wrestling game fan - on the affirmative side.

Ratings

Graphics Simply superb; the power of the GameCube has really been pushed here. 9/10
Gameplay Your standard WWE-style gameplay, with a multitude of options available. 8/10
Value If you're a wrestling fan, you'll love it. Saying that, it may not be worth it if you already have a recent WWE title. 8/10
Lifespan As a wrestling game, as long as you don't mind playing single matches, rather than story mode, it'll last a long time. 7/10
Audio The lack of commentary and voice acting during cutscenes is a downer, but the music does fit in well with the genre, adding to the atmosphere. 6/10
Overall Don't get me wrong, if you hate WWE games, you'll still hate DoR2. If you're a fan of them though, you'll love it. Buy it. Now. 8/10

Click here to buy WWE Day of Reckoning 2 from Amazon.co.uk.

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