Chris Sell
02 Jan, 2005

WWE Day of Reckoning Review

GCN Review | While Wrestling games have disappointed since the days of WWF No Mercy, is WWE Day of Reckoning the one to finally get it right?
Will they ever get it right? That is the question I ask every year when the next set of WWE games come out. 5 years ago, WWF No Mercy provided what is arguably the best wrestling game ever created. It controlled like a dream, had an excellent spirit/special system with a huge selection of moves, was well balanced and had a nice array of game modes. Last years Wrestlemania 19, while nowhere near No Mercy overall, came reasonably close to recreating some of it. It had a decent engine and game modes but was really let down but stupid things like a shoddy collision system, awful single player, over frequent reversal system, a lacking roster of wrestlers and special moves being incredibly easy to gain. So with another year of development from WM19, does Day of Reckoning fix these problems?

Like last year's Wrestlemania 19, the gameplay in Day of Reckoning is a mix of about 60% No Mercy and 40% Smackdown and the resulting engine is actually pretty solid upon first inspection. You execute strong or weak grapples and strikes based on how hard you press the A or B buttons, and pressing different directions on the control stick perform different moves. This makes it so there are a large number of moves you can execute in all sorts of different situations. Unlike No Mercy, which required you to engage in a grapple first, the weak grapple moves (tap A) can be executed by simply walking up to your opponent and quickly performing the move. This speeds the game up quite a bit and combines a ton of moves with the faster pace of Smackdown’s gameplay. Your ability to make an attack or reverse your opponent’s moves is governed by the Spirit Meter, though, so if you get beat up too much it is much harder to win the match. The Y button is for getting around the ring (running, climbing up turnbuckles, getting out of the ring, etc), Reversals are handled with the triggers (L trigger to reverse grapple moves, R trigger to reverse striking moves) and X does secondary things like grabbing up weapons, turning your opponent or picking him up from the ground. And finally the dpad does your taunt moves (for building up your special meter) and the Z button changes who you look at in multiplayer matches. All in all the controls can't really be faulted, even the silly 'wiggle the stick to get up faster' from the previous 2 games has been removed.

Benoit hits HHH with the Dragon Suplex

Benoit hits HHH with the Dragon Suplex
Location-based damage works properly now, and it's explained with clearly visible gauges, making a submission-based attack worth the trouble. But this is still a Yuke's game, meaning that wrestlers will still occasionally refuse to sell a finishing move properly, and the factors that determine whether a wrestler will be dizzied getting up are hidden deep in the impenetrable guts of the game engine, but it's nowhere near as aggravating in that in the SmackDown games. Finishing moves are again a mix of Smackdown and No Mercy. They are performed by executing moves to fill up your special meter until one of three energy slots is filled (just like Smackdown) and then pressing the A and B buttons together. This will enter you into a powered up mode for about 15 seconds that allows you to counter moves much easier, kick out of pins very easily, and perform your finishing move (just like No Mercy). Because you are powered up for this time seconds or so, it is possible to do several finishing moves within that time and then go in for a guaranteed pinfall victory. While powered up, you have to get in the right position for a given finisher and then press A+B again. You can turn people over as well as pull them around the ring with the X button, so it is easy to set your opponent in the right position to perform, say, The People’s Elbow. One of the new additions to the gameplay this year is a new feature called “momentum shift.” Basically, if your wrestler gets to a point of danger, you can perform a special “momentum shift” maneuver by pressing the A and B buttons at the same time, and this can work well if your opponent hasn't built up too many specials.

Most of the match types you would expect have made their way into Day of Reckoning. Ladder, table, TLC, cage, and Hell in a Cell are all present and accounted for. Standard matches and tag matches are also available as well as the Royal Rumble. Annoyingly, you can only have four characters in a match, though; so six man tag matches and elimination matches are strictly out of the question. The Elimination Chamber match is absent again which is very disappointing when you consider it was in last years Smackdown title. There aren’t any Lumberjack matches and you can’t have a manager, either. Most various game modes game most work well, with the Hell in a Cell breaking when smashing someone crashing down on top of it, Ladder matches being as good as one could hope and TLC matches causing the kind of mayhem you would expect. While the Create-A-Wrestler mode has improved a lot from WMX9, it still isn’t even in the same league as the CAW in the Smackdown series. There simply are not nearly enough parts available and you are severely limited in just what types of characters you can create. The move list in Day of Reckoning is enormous, so it is easy to make your created wrestler perform the way you want even if it doesn’t look right. The best part of the CAW mode is that you can edit the entrance for your character down to the smallest detail. You choose what pyro and lighting you want as well as which camera angles you want to use. There are dozens of options available when editing entrances and it is possible to do some pretty impressive things. If only the options for your created wrestlers’ appearance were this deep, then the CAW would be perfect. On the plus side, movesets for people like Brock Lesnar, Steve Austin, Hulk Hogan and Mick Foley can be bought from the shop as are some of their clothing so making them is easily possible.

As you can see, the wrestler models in Day of Reckoning are top notch

As you can see, the wrestler models in Day of Reckoning are top notch
So why does Day of Reckoning leave me feeling disappointed yet again? Well, where do I begin. The Roster is again too small. Some big names are missing, including some current/recent belt holders such as JBL and Rene Dupree, and others like The Dudleys and much of the lower card. The single player is also lacking again. It's a simple 'start your way at the bottom wrestling House Shows and work your way up to the title' which while much better than last years awful mess of a single player mode, it's totally linear and can ONLY be done with a Created Wrestler. If you're into making wrestlers then you will enjoy this, but for those who simply want to take Chris Benoit back to Wrestlemania to beat HHH again you can forget it. Reversals are yet again too frequent. The AI especially abuses it and counters your moves so often it just becomes frustrating especially when Countering boosts up the special bar faster than anything else does. Specials are still too easy. Once you build your special bar you can build it up again within a matter of seconds. Most matches just end up becoming a race as to who can get to thier first special first because once you've done it once you'll always have enough in reserve to do another and another. Special moves aren't used multiple times in Wrestling matches, they are something used to finish a match. Allowing 3 specials in reserve, which fill straight back up again with the use of a special is just stupid. Collisions spoil things yet again. Nothing is more annoying that being knocked down by the toe-nail of an opponent falling near you. No Mercy didn't have these collisions, Smackdown doesn't, every Japanese wrestling game i've played doesn't, so why must they put them in this? The speciality matches are on the whole rather sub-par. What's the point of a Cage match when you can't throw someone into the cage itself? Same goes for Hell in a Cell. Options are lacking again. Why can't i do Triple Threat Iron Man matches? They worked brilliantly in No Mercy, why prevent me from choosing 3 player in Iron Man? If i want to do 4player Elimination, let me. 4-way where just one pin wins is nowhere near as good. And why can't you give me something as simple as a Random Select for a Royal Rumble? I don't want to know when i'm coming in, that's what the Royal Rumble is all about, it's unpredictability. Another problem, like the last 2 Gamecube WWE games, is there aren't enough moves. 8 Front Grapple moves, that's all you get. Compared to No Mercy's 16. Day of Reckoning also has less moves from behind, less in the corner and less from the turnbuckle. I could go on but in every situation it's lacking moves compared to past games. And finally, the music is awful. They've actually picked up some licensed music for when you're wrestling but it's really just painful on the ears. Most of the wrestlers themes are there but there's still some that are missing. On the plus side, graphically the game is arguably the best looking wrestling game ever. Well modelled and animated wrestlers featuring all of their trademark moves, taunts and walks. The 'Entrances' are as equally as impressive with most being spot on copies for the real thing, but these are all cosmetic additions to a rage inducing game.

Just as in last years game, Day of Reckoning is lacking in pretty much every area. It's missing match types, it's missing a solid single player game and more worryingly is that it's missing some key wrestlers. If you only have a GameCube and want a wrestling game, WWE Day of Reckoning is by far your best option as it's much better than the Wrestlemania games. The wrestling engine is enjoyable, but it is missing a lot of what makes a WWE game fun. It is light on arenas and match types and its story mode is ruined by it being for created wrestlers only. The stupid collisions and frequent special moves pretty much spoil the multiplayer and the fact you can only have 4 in the ring at once is a real shame after having 6 in Smackdown. And there really could have been a few more moves available to each character. My advice would be to give Day of Reckoning a rental if you are interested in it and see how you like it as if all you are looking for is a no-frills multiplayer game then you will enjoy this, but for people who want to take their wrestling games a bit more seriously, as i seem to be saying each and every year, stick with No Mercy for the time being.....
The Score
A huge disappointment. After Wrestlemania 19 I was really expecting something special from this, but it retains everything that was bad about that game and merely covers them over with prettier graphics and a few new modes. Time to continue praying again for the return of AKI.
Looking to buy this game right now? PALGN recommends www.Play-Asia.com.

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9 years ago
Very harsh score IMO. This game was better then WWE Smackdown vs. Raw atleast, but I think it just comes down to opinions in the end.
9 years ago
Big Pete wrote
Very harsh score IMO. This game was better then WWE Smackdown vs. Raw atleast, but I think it just comes down to opinions in the end.
Better than Smackdown Vs Raw? Not a chance.
9 years ago
first review of the year... and it's an average one (the game, not the review)
9 years ago
Smackdown is the better game, but it's still not as good as it should be. Alot of the problems in Day of Reckoning are inherited from the Smackdown games like the reversal-abusing AI and the ease in which specials are earnt. Smackdown gets away with it somewhat though by having a bigger roster, more moves, better story mode and pretty much all the match modes imagineable, but the core gameplay is still pretty flawed.

Wrestling games need a big shake up next gen. They need to stop being fighting games and return to being wrestling games like AKI's games used to be and like the old Fire Pro games. There also needs to be some kind of 'Audience' mode that was in the Fire Pro games where they idea was to put on a good match for the crowd rather than just to win.

Most of my fun with Day of Reckoning came when me and my mate were not playing the game properly, but were basically messing around with the Hell in a Cell and Ladder modes, setting up big high risk routines rather than trying to beat the hell out of each other. There should be a mode where you're rewarded for using your own imagination in putting on a good match. Suicide dives off the cage, kicking out of finishers, piledrivers through tables, the possibilites could be endless if developers put some thought into things. Out of the blue roll up victories, pinning with your legs on the ropes, using a weapon when the referee isn't looking- THAT is what the WWE is, putting on a show. It's not real, it's not a fighting game, it's a performance between 2 wrestlers to put on an as convincing match as possible and it's about time Wrestling games represented this because they've hardly advanced at all in 5+ years.
9 years ago
I personally think that wrestling games should be exactly to what it really is in Real Life, such as:

-Fighting on the top of a Cage
-Pin Fall Victories in Cage & Ability to use Door
-Rewards for Imagination- as mentioned above
-Ability to geniunely fight in the Crowd, etc.
-And also, to choose what weapons you pull out from the Apron, in the form of a button combination.
9 years ago
From what I remember, WWF Smackdown 2 has all of those (except the last, what do you think this is, Paper Mario? icon_razz.gif)...
9 years ago
Smackdown vs. Raw just felt like been there done that, I'd radther just update HCTP, although you can say the same about DOR and WMXIX. However due to I barely played WMXIX I felt like I had something new and it was great.
9 years ago
Smackdown vs. Raw can't hold a candle even to Wrestlemania XIX. It's the great example of features, roster and graphics meaning nothing in a wrestling game.

Sure, it's got way more wrestlers, elimination chamber, etc. But that means nothing because it's simply a stupid engine. It's like mortal kombat trying to be no mercy.

No no no, DoR is really good, especially when you get 2 guys, who are both really good. It's deeper than it looks.
9 years ago
I agree with grimshaw, DoR > SvR.
9 years ago
You're right, DoR > SvR.

But they're both still nowhere as good as they should/could be.
9 years ago
Yeah agreed with sockochris, No Mercy and Virtual Pro Wrestler 2 to me are still the best wrestling games and they were made 5 years ago and that's quite sad.
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