When I think of wrestling, I think of trash. I think of brothers marrying their sisters, Jerry Springer, and the garbage bin behind my apartment. I didn't always think this, and if fact, for one summer I was so into wrestling: I ended up getting pay-per-view events, going to Monday Night Nitro, and even playing the hell out of the WCW vs. NOW games on the Nintendo 64. Actually, the lack of quality N64 games is probably what got me into wrestling -- it was play WCW or play…War Gods. But while these games were fun, I think I got whatever I needed out of pro wrestling and now my system can't take it anymore...it feels like trash again. So keep in mind when you read my review of THQ's WWE: Day of Reckoning 2 that this is coming from someone who does know a thing or two about wrestling, but doesn't necessarily appreciate the finer aspects of the... ahem... sport.
you won't find me spending my free time playing a wrestling game these days, there are elements of the game that I recognize as impressive. For starters, the presentation seems quite authentic. The ring introductions have all the flare and excitement of what you would see on TV -- comprised of cool video introductions, fireworks and wrestlers' actual theme songs. On top of that, matches feature the same sort of hijinx (in-match interference, chair bashing, etc.) and match types (tag team, cage matches, last man standing) that fans of the genre have come to expect. The only real problem with the game's presentation is the fact that the game does not have voices, and instead, the game's soap opera-esque story mode is revealed through text. I found this to be rather boring, and thus, I was never compelled by the storyline in which you try to get your created character back to the top of the wrestling world.
Equally as important as the game modes are the characters you can wrestle as, and with Day of Reckoning 2, there are plenty of personalities from WWE past and present to choose from. While I am not up to snuff on the new guys, it does feature the likes of JBL, Randy Orton, The Big Show and Triple H. For me, I was more impressed that I was still able to play as Hulk Hogan, Rick Flair, and those that now reside in wrestling heaven -- Eddie Guerrero and Owen Hart. In all there's over 40 wrestlers, including a handful of lady wrestlers (bra and panties match, anyone?). I don't know much about the game's cover girl, Stacy Keibler, but the prospect of tearing her clothes off seemed like a fun idea.
Unfortunately, Stacy will stay clothed even with the game's excellent graphics, because I did not find the gameplay to be very exciting. In fact, the game's grapple and attack combo system appears to be practically the same setup I remember from the N64 days. You tap B for quick attack and hold B for a power attack. For grapple moves, it's the same thing except your pressing A. It's a pretty easy concept to get your hands around (no pun intended), but honestly, it doesn't seem nearly as responsive as the N64 games I remember. And yes, I even went back and booted up WCW vs. NWO Revenge, and I thought the game was much more enjoyable, despite being seven years old.
While the gameplay wasn't top notch, I was able to still have fun with Day of Reckoning 2 when guzzling a few beers and playing different game modes with three of my buddies. It was frustrating trying to hit the wrestler I wanted to hit, but the over-the-top moves and back breaking super combos left all of us laughing and having a good time. It wasn't enough to make me want to play longer than a hour or get a mullet haircut, but I can see where wrestling fans who actually care about this stuff would have a riot.
So there you have it. Day of Reckoning 2 has most of the elements to recreate the world of pro wrestling, but in the end, a so-so controls and an uninspiring story mode were not enough to bring me back into the ring. Wrestling fans might still want to give it a try, that is, if they don't have a copy of the old N64 wrestling games that THQ also put out.