Is WWE Day of Reckoning 2 better than AEW Fight Forever?


Before AEW Fight Forever boasted that they had the original No Mercy formula, the GameCube had some very good WWE titles from Yuke’s.

AEW Fight Forever wanted gamers to relive the old-school fun of a 90s wrestling game. They created their engine with the help of the master programmer who created No Mercy, Hideyuki Iwashita. This seemed like a surefire win for those who wanted to relive the past.

You would be mistaken to believe that No Mercy on the N64 didn’t have any spiritual sequels. In fact, the GameCube was trying to bring its famous fighting system to future WWE games. WrestleMania 8X, WrestleMania XIX, and the Day of Reckoning sequels were all based loosely on the No Mercy controls.

The last GameCube wrestling game to be developed by Yuke’s would be Day of Reckoning 2. It featured an exciting story mode, a slew of match types, and a robust Create-A-Wrestler mode. This game was directed by Hirofumi Morino who also worked on Mario and Sonic at the Olympics: Tokyo 2020.

I would argue that AEW Fight Forever has striking similarities to Day of Reckoning. Even though Day of Reckoning 2 came out in 2005, AEW Fight Forever borrowed a lot of their story mode format and gameplay pacing.

The wrestling system: AEW Fight Forever vs. Day of Reckoning 2

Both games have similar controls where a wrestler initiates a weak or strong grapple and then chooses a direction. Day of Reckoning 2 adds more moves and variations to wrestling than AEW. For example, when a wrestler does a strong grapple they have access to five catched state grapples and five catched state strikes. AEW has four weak grapples and four strong grapples with weak and strong strike grapples thrown in.

AEW Fight Forever has a spirit bar that a wrestler has to fill up to perform a signature or finisher. The wrestler has to time it perfectly so they can perform it before the spirit bar drops. In the GameCube offering, the wrestler can stack up his finishing moves and unleash them at any time. There is no difference between signatures and finishers, though you can have multiple finishers.

Wrestlers in DOR2 have a much larger life bar and need to take a prolonged beating. In one tag team match between Ric Flair and HHH, I had to hit him with several finishers and various strong grapples. I injured his head, chest, and arms. and he still won the match. That 90-year-old took several chokeslams and couldn’t even give me a 2-count! In AEW, a match can be finished in under three minutes if you rail on your opponent.

Perhaps the biggest flaw in DOR 2 is the downtime a weakened wrestler has. It is way too long! If a wrestler is weak, the game asks you to tap A to get them back up. Let me tell you, friend, that is a wasted effort. Even if you set the turbo to the A button it wouldn’t matter. Your wrestler is going to stay on that mat indefinitely. Compare this to the Smackdown series on PS2 where the wrestler gets up immediately. Being stuck on the mat squirming in pain is very frustrating and I am very thankful that modern games have fixed this.

AEW and DOR2 have the exact same reversal mechanics. There is a reversal button for strikes and throws. AEW Fight Forever is a lot more forgiving on catching reversals, while DOR2 makes it a miracle.

I really appreciate that DOR2 has more complex wrestling controls, variety, and tougher opponents, but AEW Fight Forever’s improvement on the reversals and wrestler recovery is a godsend.

Winner: AEW Fight Forever

Content: AEW Fight Forever vs. Day of Reckoning 2

This is no contest. Day of Reckoning 2 came out as a finished game in 2005. Every popular match type and variation was included: cage matches, Hell in a Cell, Tornado Tag, First Blood, Hardcore, Ladder, Table matches, backstage matches, Bra and Panties (Cringe).

AEW Fight Forever is a work in progress, but at least you can play a dance game with Penta.

As far as Create-A-Wrestler, DOR2 blows the competition away.

Winner: Day of Reckoning 2

Story Mode: AEW Fight Forever vs. Day of Reckoning 2

The story mode between both games is actually very similar. The GameCube uses the technology of 2005, which means no voice acting, limited in-game cut scenes, and a branching story. Coincidently, AEW Fight Forever uses a lot of the same technology that was big in 2005: no voice acting, limited in-game cut scenes, and a branching story.

DOR2 has an episodic approach. Each level starts with a cut scene and then a match. Some matches you can lose and change the story, while others won’t let you progress until you win. Each victory gives you WWE bucks, which you can use to unlock move sets, arenas, and weapons in the WWE Shop Zone.

AEW has an episodic approach as well but with a few extra options. Not only can you progress the story, but your wrestler can have dinner, sign autographs, and play mini-games with The Young Bucks. When you win matches you get AEW bucks you can go to the Mall and unlock the content. AEW’s unlocking store is a lot more boring. You can only unlock taunts, clothes, and different entrance motions. Not as fulfilling.

Even though AEW has more “things to do” in their career mode which spices up the gameplay, DOR2 gets to the point much sooner and tries to keep the gamer in the action with more story progression. AEW’s unlockable store leaves a lot to be desired compared to the GameCube offering.

Winner: Tie

Verdict: Who made the better game?

AEW Fight Forever wins in the one category where it counts: ease of gameplay. With more accessible reversals, quicker recovery times, and better gameplay tweaks it is easier to recommend. Day of Reckoning 2 offers a lot more in content and replay factor. The matches are more climactic with the opponents being tougher. Both story modes are fun to progress in and it comes down to what you are looking for: instant story and action or exploration.

Thus AEW Fight Forever is the winner by a hair. If you ever get into retro collecting then you owe it to yourself to try WWE Day of Reckoning 2.