WWE Day of Reckoning

Review

posted 9/9/2004 by Charlie Sinhaseni
other articles by Charlie Sinhaseni
One Page Platforms: GC
Talk to a Nintendo wrestling fanatic about video games and the Nintendo 64 classic WWF No Mercy is bound to come up in the course of the conversation. One can call it a sign of respect, a nod back to the days when wrestling games were simple to play yet deep in content. Realistically though, it’s more of a cry of help as that person reminiscences back to the day when their beloved franchises ruled the scene. Most of those fans were Nintendo fans through and through and as the technology expanded, they stuck next to their guns and picked up a GameCube. They came into the next generation of wrestling games with high hopes but those hopes collapsed on the weak shoulders of THQ’s infinitely disappointing WrestleMania franchise. With the Smackdown! franchise ruling the scene and the RAW franchise quickly gaining ground the guys at THQ recommitted themselves to developing a GameCube-exclusive title that could hang with its brethren. That title is WWE Day of Reckoning, and while it doesn’t hold a candle to the old N64 wrestling titles of yesteryear, it’s a vast improvement over its predecessors.

It appears that the designers took the complaints of its customers into account and used them to refine the lackluster elements in previous games. Gone is that inane mode where you battle goons in construction sites. In its place is a pretty robust career mode that does an excellent job of keeping gamers hooked. New sideshow attractions include the addition of WWE Legends and a new Bra and Panties match. THQ has thrown some classic faces into previous WWE games but this time it has an ace up its sleeve, Bret Hart. His appearance in the game is especially appealing to WWE fans because Hart and Vince McMahon have been at odds since the Montreal Screwjob in ’97. Perhaps Hart’s appearance in the latest WWE video game is a sign that the two sides have made up and are ready to move on. The new Bra and Panties match is pretty similar to the one found in Here Comes the Pain so unless you’re a lonely sex-craved geek, it shouldn’t be a huge selling point.

Day of Reckoning’s main gameplay mode is a career mode in which you start out as a no-name wrestler and move up the WWE ranks. Early on you’ll have to start on in a developmental program and “pay your dues” so to speak. Instead of sticking you in the WWE’s actual developmental circuit, Ohio Valley Wrestling, you’re tossed into a no-name circuit where you perform for house show audiences. To advance you’ll be called upon to show off your skills as a wrestler in order to impress the brass. For instance, there’s a sequence where Paul Heyman asks you to perform your finisher twice in one match. As you progress you’ll be called upon to demonstrate your mat skills, aerial skills against an opponent in a real match setting. I like the idea of having to start out small before moving up to the big leagues but I wish that THQ would have done more with the game. It’s entirely linear so there’s no real sense that you’re fighting for a position on the RAW or Smackdown! rosters. There should be some sort of criteria that you have to meet in order to impress the brass. Things like fan approval, mat skill and wrestler charisma would have been pretty great barometers for success.

As you win more matches you’ll earn points that can be used to improve your wrestler. In the beginning your wrestler is pretty weak so you’ll need to do well in matches in order to build your stats. There are two major setbacks in the career mode; you can only play through it with created wrestlers and you can only do so with male ones. It’s kind of a sad, but accurate, window on how the WWE views its female talent. Hell, the current WWE Diva Search contest bears the entire grim tale. Who cares how much talent you have, the real question is, how do you look in a bra and a pair of panties? Oh well, you can’t fault THQ and Yukes! for retaining that WWE continuity.
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