I continue to work my way through the games that came with my GameCube as I play Day of Reckoning 2 this week. Having really enjoyed WrestleMania XIX, I was understandably grateful for some more WWE action, but I really didn’t enjoy DOR 2 as much as I did its elder sibling.
Whereas WrestleMania XIX is a bright and colourful game with a good creation suite and a star-packed roster, DOR 2 is grungier, less fun and hampered by what is, at the outset, a very limited creation suite. Instead, everything from basic attires to moves need to be unlocked before you can really create anyone remotely decent.
Unlocking things is done by having matches in exhibition and career mode. Doing this nets you in-game currency, which can then be spent in the WWE Shop on moves, weapons, arenas, etc.
In theory this isn’t the worst idea, as it gives you a tangible reward even just for having a multiplayer match with your mates, but what you start out with is so desperately limited that you soon get very bored with the whole process.
You start out with a paltry four arenas (Raw, SmackDown, Heat and Velocity) and you have to win at least three to four matches before you can buy even one of the four additional arenas in Shop Zone (Judgement Day, Bad Blood, Great American Bash and Taboo Tuesday)
The other arenas are unlocked by completing career mode, but that career mode has a fatal flaw, it’s based around you creating your own wrestler and dumping him into a pre-planned story. This completely negates the best thing about the PS2’s SmackDown series of games, that you could basically select any wrestler you wanted and play a year in their WWE life, meaning you could pick your favourite wrestlers and lead them to Championship Glory™. There’s also the small issue that the creative suite is so limited from the off that you’ll end up creating a wrestler you really don’t particularly want to spend an entire game mode with.
Even worse is that the story mode starts with your wrestler already established on the roster with a previous year’s worth of character development that you didn’t see and had no control over. So you’re thrown straight into matches with all the big stars, such as Triple H and Randy Orton, except your unfortunate creation has such low stats that the hapless chump gets turned into mulch right out the gate.
This would be less galling if the whole point was that you were a rookie starting out (as happens in the story mode in the original Day of Reckoning in fact) and you were fighting guys at a lower level before gradually working your way up the ladder. Instead, you have to get in there with the big boys from the off, with predictable results.
You therefore have to spend hours grinding to unlock things to create a better wrestler or just grit your teeth and take your kickings. The important thing is that neither scenario is particularly fun, but all the game’s content is held ransom in such a manner that you’re forced onwards regardless.
I’ll be honest and say that I eventually gave up on career mode because not only is it ludicrously unfair, but it’s also especially boring due to me having no real connection with my generic created guy. If the game had instead given me the chance to play as an absolute loser like Kenzo Suzuki or Hurricane and take him to the top of the WWE Mountain, I would have had much more fun because at least then I would be actually invested in my character’s struggles.
The roster itself is pretty underwhelming compared to previous ones in the series and, although you can unlock a selection of legends that spruce things up a bit, you’ll have to slog through the career mode to get them, and you’ll probably think it isn’t worth it. All the main stars, such as John Cena, Undertaker, Eddie Guerrero and Kurt Angle, are present and most of them look pretty decent graphically, but the supporting cast isn’t particularly exciting by comparison (even if it was nice to see Paul London and Taijiri make the cut, as I’m a fan of both).
Some of the people missing are a little head scratching though. For instance, evil Arab-American Muhammad Hassan is present, but his snivelling lackey Daivari isn’t. Also, the starting female roster is especially sparse with only four making the cut. The game also dispenses with most tag team entrances, which means partners come out on their lonesome one by one, which is disappointing considering other games in the series had tag entrances.
The game just overall feels light on features and, in my opinion, you expect a game to start off with more content than this one does or at least provide a single-player experience worth engaging in to make up for it, but sadly it just doesn’t.
The game still plays well enough, although sometimes if the CPU-controlled fighter gets in control, it can be very hard to turn the tide as they just seemingly have a counter for everything and pummel you mercilessly. However, the game is still a lot of fun to play with friends and is at least a serviceable wrestling game, if not a particularly good one.
I’d swerve this unless you can get it especially cheap.
Thanks for reading.
Until next time,
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