Finally, THQ delivers a wrestling title that is just about everything cube fans have been wanting since day one. Capitalizing off of last year’s much received exclusive hit for the Game Cube, "Day of Reckoning: 2" not only captures the hype and funk of the WWE but it also proves to be a title that is both charismatic and full of flavor. Quite frankly, in the words of John Cena, "The Champ is here!"
First off, let me tell this game is looking good proving to be much more polished and clean than last year’s predecessor whose graphic engine bowed pretty well overall. The reason for this quite noticeable change in appearance is a 25 to 30 percent increase in the polygon count, giving a higher resolution, detail, and texture to the WWE character models, arenas, and even the crowd. Every featured wrestler looks at least 90 percent much like their real life counterpart and others are so dead on they’ll make you shout out a "hell yeah!" The fans are more lively-looking and fully figured so that you don’t get the feeling that your entertaining a crowd of giant "sprits" and the arenas, themselves, boast some serious depth, displaying dynamic lighting effects and entrance props.
All your favorite Raw/Smackdown superstars make the cut including a handful of "first-timers" to the Cube platform including rising stars like "Heidenreich," "Carlito," "Muhummad Asam," "Chris Masters" and "Christy Hemme." After you vested some quality time in the game you’ll later be able to unlock five hidden WWE legends including "Bret Hart," "Mankind," "Stone Cold," "The Rock," and the immortal "Hulk Hogan."
Capitalizing on its signature "Story Mode," Day of Reckoning 2 picks up where last years plot left off. You managed to beat all the odds of the unforgiving pro wrestling circuit and come out on top as the WWE Champion. Life was good. Keyword "was."
If you haven’t figured it out by now, the world of wrestling always seems to have this nasty tendency to go full circle and bite the next rising superstar on the butt. It’s just too bad that this time it’s your time to shine as you find yourself no longer atop the circuit as the current reigning champion. Through some unscrupulous means which the storyline doesn’t bother to elaborate on even in the slightest, you’ve managed to lose the gold and a little status quo around the locker room. If you want an explanation, you’re just going to have to use your imagination. That’s life in the WWE.
Not all is lost though, as you’ll find you’ve gained a few friends, even a girlfriend, the lovely Stacy Keibler, who is more than willing to help get you back to the top of the food chain. Of course, as always there’s still some bad blood and unfinished business out there, so you’ll have your work cut out for you this time round.
Ever trying to improve on a pretty solid game play engine, the THQ team has enhanced things by smoothing out the animation during matches and speeding up the flow of the action as well as adding in a momentum factor and all new submission system. For years, a typical wrestling match consisted of you pummeling your opponent until he was virtually lifeless on the matt and then pinning him once you were done toying with his limp carcass. This year, however, an all new "stamina meter" prevents you from totally having your way with your opponent as you’ll find that it takes a lot of stamina to continually beat your opponent lifeless.
Every action you take in the ring eats away at your stamina meter and when the meter reaches zero you’re wrestler tends to bow over and gasp for air, helping to buy a downed opponent a little more valuable time to recover and even possibly pull off a surprise finisher to turn the momentum of the match in their favor. Now players will not only have to formulate a strategy to out grapple the competition but now they will have to find a way to pace themselves and control the flow of the match.
The all new "submission gauge" really helps to round out the game play as you are now presented with four options anytime you successfully execute a submission hold on your opponent. During a submission hold you can either force your opponent to "submit" by putting pressure on a weakened part of the body, "drain" their stamina bar down, "taunt" them to take away their crowd momentum, or "rest" to restore your own stamina meter and turn the tide of the match. All of these options are at your disposal and can be executed with the flick of the analog "c-button" in the corresponding direction of your desired option. The flip side to this new strategy is that your opponent has a small window of opportunity to try and guess what option you will choose. If they’re correct, they can cancel out your submission attack and can even counter attack in certain instances. However if they’re wrong, they will pay very dearly, especially if you decide to make them submit.
Now one might turn their nose up at these new features at first but you’ll soon find that they work quite well and really help boost the realism of the game. Not to mention they make for some real nail-biter matches. Nothing is better than turning the tide of main event match and going on to win in high fashion and player versus player matches are insanely fun and addictive. Even more, all of your "submission specialists" like Chris Benoit, Rick Flair, and Jericho finally get the respect their finishers deserve. All of these benefits can be credited to a newly enhanced game play engine.
Day of Reckoning 2 definitely has a lot going for it, but that doesn’t make it the perfect game. It does have its legitimate miscellaneous gripes. We can start with the cage matches. Winning a cage match is the equivalent of having all four of your wisdom teeth pulled".at the same time. If your stamina meter is low when you reach the top of the cage, your wrestler will simply lets go and falls helplessly back down to the mat. When you do actually have enough stamina and manage to reach the top of the cage, you have to "ferociously" tap your buttons for quite an extended period of time before your wrestler will cross over to the other side to win the match.
To make matters worse, the computer opponents almost effortlessly climb the top of the cage and cross over when you’re down on the mat. Major kudos lost on the cage matches.
Another gripe would have to be a limited "create-a-wrestler" mode. I would not go so far as to say that this mode is weak, but I will say that since one can’t take a real Raw/Smackdown superstar through the story mode, you would figure that you’d have more customizable options at your disposal when creating a personalized superstar to help you to forget about this arguably frustrating factor.
None the less, through all its shortcomings, DoR2 still comes out on top a solid grappler by far. Graphically, the game is beautifully stunning. These top-notch graphics are backed up by an enhanced and much received game play engine as well as healthy roster of rising new superstars to choose from.
More importantly, this is a game that can easily coincide underneath the same roof as the highly praised Smackdown series simply because it offers gamers a different twist on wrestling as opposed to its alter ego. If you’re very serious about the wrestling genre of games Day of Reckoning 2 is definitely not a game to be idly passed up. Its strong presentation and innovation easily earn this grappler a solid 4.5 GiN gems.