WWE Day Of Reckoning Preview

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THQ have finally announced their 2004 Gamecube wrestling title. But it’s not the Wrestlemania XX that people were expecting. They have started from scratch to bring you the most realistic grappling experience to date, with ‘WWE Day of Reckoning’. The title is being created by Yukes, the Japanese developers responsible for the highly successful Smackdown games on Playstation 2.

Gone is the mission-based ‘Revenge mode’, which dominated Wrestlemania XIX. Instead you get the chance to take your character from the lowest ranks as an amateur wrestler, through to the top of the WWE mountain. To begin with, you will have to prove yourself in small gymnasiums against a group of unknowns. Do well and you may get noticed and earn yourself a coveted WWE contract. Upon signing, you will get to choose to work on either Smackdown or Raw. To start with, even the lowest ranking WWE superstars will have higher attributes then you. You will be able to upgrade your stats by successfully winning matches, and working your way through the competition. This ‘School of Hard Knocks’ season mode takes place over the course of a year, features approximately 50 matches, and includes all 12 Pay Per Views. During which you will have the chance to compete for every WWE title. Beat all the competition and you could even earn a WWE Championship match at the granddaddy of them all, Wrestlemania!

To date, only four WWE Superstars have been confirmed, including Chris Benoit, Stacy Keibler, Triple H and Trish Stratus. The final roster is said to include 40 wrestlers, including superstars from the current roster, and classic legends from WWE’s illustrious past. Equally, only two game play modes have thus far been confirmed. Added to the standard exhibition match is, for the first time on Gamecube, the infamous ‘Bra and Panties’ match. In a game where the real winner is the audience, two WWE Divas must try and strip their opponent down to their underwear to gain a victory. This match really shows off the heightened realism of the clothing, which stretches and contracts as you wrestle to take it off. While unconfirmed at present, expect a traditional range of tag and hardcore matches, to accompany some more distinct gimmick matches.

Weapons such as chairs are now breakable, and will be bent increasingly out of shape with each crashing blow. This prevents your helpless opponent being pummelled repeatedly without any means of escape. One too many blows to the head, and your opponent could soon be wearing a crimson mask. You’ll have no success trying to make the WWE Divas to bleed however, no matter what time of the month it is.

Featuring improved graphics and new grapple and reversal systems, the game also boasts a brand-new ‘Superstar Momentum Shift feature. Represented by a heart rate monitor, it ensures that the match flows fairly, preventing unrealistic finishing moves at improbable times. The finishing metre is presented with the letters WWE. Perform moves to fill up all three letters, to earn a finishing move. The damage metre is shaped like a body, and changes colour to highlight areas of injury.

The fantastic tug-of-war submission system from Smackdown HCTP has been implemented here. Apply a submission manoeuvre and watch your opponent desperately try to crawl to the ropes. Hammer the buttons to prolong his torture and prevent any chance of escape.

Here is a full rundown of the in-game controls: B = Strike, A = Grapple, Y = Run, X = Lift, L = Counter Grapple, R = Counter Strike, Z = Target / Tag, Analogue Stick = move wrestler, D-pad = Taunt. A+B = Special Taunt / Move, A+Down = Pin / Tear off clothing, X=Pick up weapon.

The presentation has been improved to offer a closer to television style experience. The camera actually follows the action, instead of just zooming in and out continuously. The graphics have also had an overhaul, and now feature specular lighting. This makes wrestlers look like their sweat is glistening under the arena lights.

The character models have clearly spent more time in the gym over the past year, with each bulging muscle more detailed then ever before. Animations have been enhanced to ensure that wrestlers are as real to life as possible. The crowd are much more energetic, and have finally made the leap into 3D. Cameras flash and banners wave as fans show their support for their favourite superstars. While Day of Reckoning still lacks play-by-play commentary, the audio effects make you feel like you’re actually in the arena.

‘Wrestlemania XIX’ was very similar in style to ‘Smackdown: Shut your mouth’, and it seems so far that ‘WWE Day of Reckoning’ is following in the huge footsteps of Playstation 2’s best-selling ‘Smackdown Here Comes The Pain’. Multiplayer fans will be pleased to learn that the game supports four players, so expect some fierce competition from your friends. With many match types, and almost the entire roster yet to be announced, there is still much to learn about this forthcoming Gamecube exclusive. But if first impressions are anything to go by, ‘WWE Day of Reckoning’ is shaping up to be the most realistic wrestling title to date. Stay tuned to Smackdown5.com in coming months for the very latest news on this hot new title!

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