WWE: Day of Reckoning 2 Review: 5 Reasons to Buy

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WWE: Day of Reckoning 2 Review: 5 Reasons to Buy

Nintendo wrestling fans have been patiently waiting for the day when developer Yuke’s and publisher THQ would upstage their popular Smackdown series on the PS2 with a stellar wrestling title for the GameCube. It looks like their day of reckoning has come. 2005’s WWE: Day of Reckoning 2 is the best wrestling title available on the GameCube and may indeed have stolen the Heavyweight Championship Belt from Sony’s console, thus making Day of Reckoning 2 the best wrestling title available on any system. However, a caveat remains: It’s only at its best when played with other humans–the CPU’s AI is simply too erratic to remain enjoyable for long periods of time.

Better Looking Than Ever

WWE 2K22 Vader trailer screenshot
Wrestle with some of the best characters.

Yuke’s has not only improved the visuals of the wrestlers (increasing polygon counts). They also managed to inject some incredible new innovations into the mechanics of the game. The new stamina-based system works well for the most part, though there are some inherent kinks to be ironed out in future renditions of the series. WWE: Day of Reckoning 2‘s biggest drawback is the lack of space on the GameCube discs, which don’t allow for voice overs from favored wrestlers. The game’s second knock concerns its bizarre AI. Sometimes the wrestlers will just stand there unable to do anything. While other matches will require every amount of talent the user has. Unfortunately, the game bounces back and forth between being challenging and far too easy.

Improved Grappling System

Screenshot from WWE: Smackdown vs. Raw 2010
Ready to rumble.

In previous games, players may remember getting into the ring with a stronger opponent and being beaten to a pulp while they could barely initiate a grapple. The stamina meter changes all of this and creates a better sense of balance. Each move drains stamina from the meter, which in effect will leave stronger opponents weakened after they’ve tossed you around for a while. This allows the player to counter with a reversal and take the fight back to them. This feature alone captures the true essence of why people love wrestling in the first place. Where it falters slightly is that it tends to draw out matches far beyond their expiry date. WWE: Day of Reckoning 2’s stamina meter is certainly a welcome addition, but it’s the submission system that changes the face of video game wrestling.

Submission Moves in WWE: Day of Reckoning 2

WWE Screenshot
Opponent ready to meet his challenger.

The submission system is mapped to the C stick and allows wrestlers to select 4 different moves depending on which way the stick is pushed. Submit (Up-C) puts immense pressure on your opponent’s weakened areas. Drain (Right-C) drains the opponent’s stamina, allowing you some breathing space. Taunt (Left-C) reduces your opponent’s crowd momentum, while Rest Hold (Down-C) increases your own stamina. The players’ opponents aren’t overpowered by this system either. If they guess exactly which move the user is going to execute and initiate the same on their C-Stick, the move is broken. This mechanic would have a lot of potential if utilized in an online game, when player 2 can’t simply look over once the submission animation begins to see which move is being executed, resulting in a cancellation.

Continued Story from the First Game

WWE Screenshot
Fans cheer while opponent’s duel.

Players eager to continue last year’s game with their created wrestler will be disappointed that there is no import feature available. THQ explained that it’s due to the vastly improved polygon characters used in Day of Reckoning 2. However, this is pretty disappointing since the story mode continues from the first Day of Reckoning. This means that the player will have to either recreate their character from the first game or simply invent another one. The story mode, while perhaps a little drawn out, is the only way to unlock many of the game’s various arenas, so it’s a worthwhile venture.

Improved Control Scheme

WWE screenshot
Coming in hot with a slam jump.

The first Day of Reckoning ‘s control scheme was already great, and the sequel fine-tunes everything. It’s definitely not a button masher. Players who spend time learning the proper moves, timing, and when to effectively use their stamina and submissions will find a deep and challenging game. Much like Soul Calibur, Day of Reckoning 2 really rewards those who take the time to understand the nuances of the controls. The ring entrances are excellent, and the sheer number of wrestling modes, characters, and arenas are sure to delight any WWE fan. 

Final Words

This is likely this series’ swan song on the GameCube, but at least it will be going out with a bang. Hopefully, this franchise will be continued on the next-gen consoles. It might not remain a Nintendo exclusive given the amount of popularity and good press surrounding the series. In any event if Yuke’s tightens up the AI, continues to evolve the submission and stamina meters, and puts the voices back in, WWE fans everywhere will be falling over themselves to play the third iteration.

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