WWE: Day of Reckoning
Wrestling may just be the all American sport. Basketball is from Canada, baseball is a variation (of sorts) of cricket, football is a variation (of sorts) of rugby, and hockey is so Canadian that you can't help but say 'eh'? after saying it aloud. Wrestling is in a league by itself, however. Where else can two guys dressed up in tights step into a ring and perform a staged fight to the delight of millions of adoring fans?
Unfortunately, there haven't been many stellar wrestling titles for the GameCube so far, which may be somewhat of a downer for Nintendo die-hards who were treated to so many fantastic wrasslin' titles on the N64. Fret not, though, because the GameCube finally gets the proper treatment with WWE: Day of Reckoning, easily the best wrestling game currently on the Cube.
In terms of gameplay, WWE: Day of Reckoning harkens back to the glory days of wrestling games in the N64/PSX era. A lot of the main staples of the genre like grappling and light/heavy strikes are still around, but it's all been improved upon considerably. The actual wrestling in WWE: Day of Reckoning is nicely balanced: beginners will be able to pick up and play it right off the bat, but it's also very deep, and veterans have a lot of possibilities before them. Likewise, the controls are intuitive and responsive, making it accessible to both groups.
The meat and bones is in the story mode, which lets you create a wrestler and then take him from an unknown scrub to a WWE wrestling superstar. It's certainly serviceable, but it doesn't grant you much freedom in how you want to progress through the game. And unfortunately, many favorite wrestlers didn't make the cut in the roster, which might be a downer for die-hard fans. There are, however, several unlockable characters like Andre the Giant and Bret the Hitman Hart, which might help heal the wounds a bit.
One of WWE: Day of Reckoning's strong points are the visuals. The wrestlers themselves are strikingly similar to their real life counterparts, with both smooth animations and details. However, the audio is probably the game's low point. While there are several worthwhile music tracks, the rest of the game is pretty bare audio-wise. There's no voice acting of any kind, so ring entrances are pretty tame - likewise, it makes the story mode a text heavy affair.
While WWE: Day of Reckoning is a solid game all around, it won't be transcending any barriers: if you don't dig wrestling games, then you probably won't dig this. However, if you can appreciate the art of men in tights duking it out, then WWE: Day of Reckoning definitely deserves a look.