WWE Day of Reckoning 2 Gamecube Review

Picking up where things left off, Day of Reckoning 2 is the closest we've come yet to receiving an updated version of the truly great N64 wrestling titles. It's similar grappling style is so close, it's a shame the rest of the engine has frustrating problems. The story mode is aggravating too, and that's the core of the game, enough to bring it down almost entirely.

Yuke's has tweaked this engine a lot since the first appearance in the series. The grappling mechanic is far more natural, and feels better to control. It's still too striking-happy, and you could get through most matches without ever using a grapple. To counter this, the developer has added a stamina meter, which ticks down with every move. Obviously, some moves use more than others do.

What it does though is make the player wish they thought of something else to balance this out. Instead of coming up with some sort of coding to keep matches fair, players are now forced to stand still while their wrestler catches his breath, completely open to attacks. It's a cheap way to get around the fact that someone taking a beating is helpless on the ground.

That leads to endless, frustrating, and non-strategic button mashing. You'll spend a lot of time on the canvas, wailing on the A button so you can stand up. The same goes for exiting a submission move or a pin.

Submission moves, when begun, can be countered, but only if you select how the opponent will apply them with the C-stick. It's unfairly based on luck. There are limited buttons here too, and something as simple as an irish whip requires multiple buttons pressed simultaneously. The shoulder and Z buttons should have more uses.

It's a shame the engine doesn't work with graphics like these. Though still animated roughly, the faces of the wrestlers are the best seen this generation, Xbox wrestling games included. Certain superstars like Triple HHH have exaggerated muscles, and it looks more like a caricature or action figure. Most of them though are prefect digital recreations, even capturing subtle skin tones and details.

You can also create wrestlers, which you'll need to do in order to take part in the story mode. This is the deepest "create-a-character" mode in the history of the feature, wrestling game or not. The plethora of clothing and accessory options pale in comparison to the brilliant facial editing tool. Everything, from the spacing, size, and depth of your eyebrows to the same for your cheekbones can be edited. You can even create an entrance for your new star, placing camera movements and pyrotechnics.

Needless to say, it takes a while, requiring dedication and a time commitment. The loading times here are rough, and every change, even if it just switches a color, takes a few seconds to process. Once in the story mode or standard play, access time is not a problem. The audio is an issue however, the grating match music unbearable and best turned off. The horrible, out of place sound effects fare even worse. A slap sounds like a whip being cracked.

Picking up where things ended last year, the story concerns the World title being stolen, along with multiple feuds. Everything is told through text, and even still, the writing calls up the personas of the wrestler's characters flawlessly. You need to create a new superstar this time; there's no importing one used for the previous edition. You can't just jump in with a WWE star either. It has to be a created character.

The appeal of the WWE has been captured flawlessly for this mode, the entrances and mannerisms intact all the way through. That's great when chatting, but not so good in the ring. Certain tasks and matches slaughter the entertainment factor. Tag team matches in particular are a problem, the brain-dead referee refusing to disqualify the consistently interfering opponent. Sending in your partner with the d-pad is sometimes helpful, other times they'll take down everyone, including the player. Securing a pin or submission here is useless, and there's no backstage brawling to be had to weaken them before going for a finisher.

Fans will love to fiddle with the new create-a-wrestler features, and leveling up as the story progresses is enjoyable. The problem is that developer Yuke's is NOT Aki, no matter how much they try to imitate them. Gameplay here feels like there were no ideas left, and they cater far too much to the button-mashing crowd. This entire generation of wrestling games has been one sad, depressing bust and Day of Reckoning 2 only makes that more apparent.

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