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The problem with all WWE games released on a Nintendo console is that they’ll always be compared to No Mercy back on the N64, which is highly regarded as the best wrestling game ever. So with this high benchmark to compete with, I took a look at THQ’s Day of Reckoning 2 on the GameCube. Day of Reckoning was released to a mixed reaction at the tail end of 2004, and THQ are looking to put right the wrongs in this sequel.
Jumping straight into a fight, the play mechanics are reasonably similar to No Mercy, with an instantly recognisable grapple system combing hard grapples and normal grapples. Of course, you can just mash the punch button as madly as before for a degree of success. However, and this is the first real difference between these two games, whilst No Mercy would punish those players that would batter the control pad, DoR2 seems to reward it – fights can quite easily be won using this method alone. Obviously this is disappointing and means that you’ll never have to build any real skill at the game, but using fancy moves will certainly make the game more enjoyable. Unfortunately you’ll often find that computer opponents will defeat you through this button-mashing method, simply trapping you in the corner and repeatedly stomping and punching you until you’re unconscious enough to be pinned. As you’d expect, this is extremely frustrating and will lead to many a lost game. While there’s nothing stopping you from simply using these tactics yourself, where’s the fun in that?
The story mode is certainly developed, offering a branching structure based on your character’s decisions, such as attacking ‘friendly’ characters or trying to help everyone, but again, it just isn’t anywhere near as developed as No Mercy. There is little variety in what titles can be pursued, with just a single story mode to work through. As a result your character may end up as a champion of one division or another thanks to how you play, but you can’t consciously go after a certain belt. There’s a chance that the story mode will branch in such a way that you’ll get the belt you wanted anyway, but you never feel in control of your destiny.
In No Mercy you always knew who had each belt and could challenge them to a fight at any time, which of course was great if it was a mate who held the title, often leading to some real grudge matches. This is simply not possible in DoR2 and is a real disappointment, meaning that all multiplayer games have no real affect on the game at all.
Something that DoR2 does well is the ‘create a wrestler’ feature. The average player will happily spend hours trying to create their perfect wrestling superstar, altering their clothes, wrestler dimensions, moves, ring entry and more. However, even this mode has some flaws. Each time an aspect of the custom wrestler is changed, the system reloads the whole wrestler, taking literally 10-20 seconds. This may not sound like an extraordinary amount of time, but when you consider that each and every decision has this waiting time attached to it, you quickly become bored and disinterested. The whole game is riddled with chronic loading times, but it’s more noticeable here than anywhere else.
Another complaint relates back to No Mercy. Each custom character could have four outfits whilst here a custom character is limited to a single outfit and, what’s more, you can only have ten characters per memory card. This may be down to the level of detail in each custom character, but I’d have happily taken a reduction in visuals in exchange for more customisation options, especially when the custom features are usually a major selling point in a wrestling game.
So what’s left to be said about DoR2? Nothing really. The fighting is repetitive, there is a lack of game modes and the ‘create a wrestler’ suffers from a few too many technical problems. It’s still the best wrestler on the GameCube and if you can look past these flaws there’s certainly a degree of fun to be had, but there are better wrestling games available for other, older consoles.