Can you smell what the Cube is cookin’?
From the bootleg bloodbaths
of the 70’s to the plight of superhero
wannabes in the 80’s to the incendiary rhetoric of today’s pec-powered, thrash-metal,
Days of Our Lives extras, pro wrestling has evolved to keep up with the times…with
some bras & panties scattered in there to keep the casual fans interested.
How far the WWE has come from the Junkyard
Dog days causes as much wonderment
as spray cheese on Matzo balls, though the foundation of muscle, attitude and
athleticism has remained unchanged.
The same can be said of wrestling games – same deal, different mafia. The
latest installment, WWE:
Day of Reckoning, follows the family formula to a tee. Over 35 wrestlers
are available, including Triple H, Kane, Rhyno, Ric Flair, The Rock, Y2J, The
Big Show, Undertaker, Rey Mysterio and even unlockable old-school fools like
Andre The Giant and Brutus Beefcake. BEEFCAKE!
quick, well-executed Tutorial will get your fingers primed to unleash the
beast. Exhibition Mode comes in Single, Tag Team, three and four man melees,
two versus one, and Royal Rumble formats. Every match type except Royal Rumble
can be played using a number of rule types, such as Hardcore, Ironman, Hell in
a Cell, Steel Cage, Ladder Match, or TLC. If you’re thinking “Tender Loving Care,” it’s
about time you had a Table, Ladder, and Chair swept across the cranium.
of which, you can even pit Trish Stratus, Stacy Kiebler, Molly Holly or Victoria
in a shamelessly gratuitous but definitely fun Bra & Panties match. God bless
A surprisingly deep Create a Wrestler feature lets you choose from loads of
body types, change your bodily proportions and equip hundreds of accessories
and moves to pimp out your style. An hour will fly by before you’ve even gotten
to use the optional paint tool. Once your modern day gladiator is ready to
brawl, you can beef him up and earn cash for unlockable arenas, costumes, and
moves through the game’s strong Story Mode, which takes you through the trials
in WWE Development as you work your way up to Wrestlemania.
After your created superstar runs through the rookies in Development, you will
join either the RAW or Smackdown! roster. This early fork will determine
the rest of the opponents you’ll face along the way to WWE gold. Some matches
occur in a steel cage, during a Royal Rumble, or have you teaming up with a
member of your wrestling faction to go for the Tag Team Belt. To keep it interesting,
certain matches have special conditions for victory, such as working the opponent’s
legs and going for a submission or performing your finishing move at least
twice. All the while, the TV-worthy drama of your faction continues to unfold
as pre-fight locker room beat downs send the message that you are either one
bad hombre or some B-class jobber unworthy of spandex.
While the modes and depth are worthy of praise, the enemy AI is generally on the easy side. The increasing difficulty is mainly a result of more frequent move reversals, which isn’t very realistic and can feel a bit cheap at times. Still, successful countering is rewarding and keeps the game fun.
None of the female wrestlers you create can be imported into the Story Mode,
however, which does limit the single-player replay value. Nevertheless, Day
of Reckoning has so many customization options, your gaming crew will not throw
elbows as to who gets to rock the lizard’s tail.
The main gameplay engine has not changed much from the earlier Smackdown! games
on the PS2, which itself has not changed much from WCW
vs. NWO back in the
old N64 days. Fierce or light strikes and grapples focus on tenderizing certain
body parts in order to get a better chance of scoring a submission or pin.
The speed of the matches is faster in Day of Reckoning than
in games past, though,
and your selection of grapples and strikes are paced to save the game from
a button masher’s pinfall.
One major feature has been added to the fray: Momentum Shifts. A momentum meter
changes color depending on how badly you’re taking or dishing out the hurt.
If it’s at its highest level and you’re an inch from a eulogy, you can perform
a Momentum Shift maneuver and swap the meter values. To dodge the cheese factor,
each player can only use this move once per match. In true-to-television fashion, Day
of Reckoning gives you just the right amount of time in performing counters
to shift the momentum. Every match is exciting and will grab your full attention,
whether you’re on the mat recovering from a People’s Elbow or knocking out the
ref to pull a sledgehammer out from under the ring.
of Reckoning does a great job rendering all the wrestlers’ musculature,
facial expressions, and environments. Lighting effects and stage fireworks deliver
the techno-circus feel of the WWE well. The
physics are tight and the character models interact realistically, although the
player targeting system does need a bit of work. Tapping the C-stick five times
in the same direction to finally target the bogie charging at you gets annoying.
Like the real thing, the game’s music is a mix of metal and rap. There aren’t
many tracks, though, so get used to redundancy. At least the audience reacts
believably to the action, cheering for reversals, oohing and aahing over special
moves, and booing for the garbage can being repeatedly slammed on a bloodied
WWE: Day of Reckoning delivers the blood, sweat and tears Gamecube
wrestling fans have been waiting to digest. It might not offer much new to
the wrestling genre, but a win is a win, right?