Published on September 26th, 2010 | by Swaine Dillinger0
WWE SmackDown vs RAW 2011 – Preview
Yearly franchises are always presented with the same problem: how do you create a new game with less than 12 month’s worth of development, yet still make it fresh and worth the full retail price? It certainly is a quandary, especially for a franchise which is as feature-rich as the SmackDown vs RAW franchise, so it was with feeling of slight trepidation that we got our hands on the 2011 edition, and surprisingly it was bursting at the seams with loads of new functionality and features formulating in the most complete wrestling experience that’s been provided in years.
New and improved
The most notable improvement this year is the way physics are dealt with in the ring. Now interactions between wrestlers and props – such as chairs, ladders and tables – are much more convincing. Rather than sticking to rigid pre-determined uses, ladders can be leant against the ropes to allow easier access to the ring, and can be laid against turn-buckles in order to offer a harder surface to Irish whip competitors into. It sounds minor, but during TLC matches the extra ways of getting up high and smashing down on dazed opponents offers real choice. Not only that, but chairs will bend more accurately and tables fracture in more ways than just down the middle. There’s even the option to stack tables on top of one another to create the ultimate crescendo to a bout. It all helps to sell the fact that the models do indeed exist on a physical plane; that their bodies are really on the line and that players are finally getting a game which belongs in the current physics-obsessed generation, which can only be a good thing.
Visuals have been given an overhaul too, perfectly capturing the looks of all your favorite wrestlers, minus that greased-up action figure look which was so prevalent in Legends of Wrestlemania. Certain aspects have been accentuated, such as Shamus’ pasty white complexion or Brett ‘The Hitman’ Hart’s uncanny ability to not age. Movesets are also appropriate to the frame of each wrestler, so The Undertaker is slow yet powerful and Mysterio’s quick, but needs to land more blows to take down the heavy hitters. This aspect was present in last year’s game, but it seems more noticeable this year.
The most groundbreaking inclusion this year is the WWE Universe feature. Like an overactive fanboy watching silently in the background, SvsR 2011 quietly takes note of every match you fight in and which wrestlers you choose in order to establish storylines, heels and rivalries independent of any game mode. For instance, you could be having a match with a friend locally and the AI will dynamically throw in an element of unpredictability, such as a rival rushing the stage during a match or rumbling your entrance with a chair on the back of your head. Universe permeates all modes, effectively transforming the entire game into a massive story experience, alongside the existing Road to Wrestlemania Story mode, which now includes the option to roam backstage between matches, akin to a similar mode seen in the PS2 classic SmackDown: Here Comes The Pain. There’s a mini-map, training room, dialogue interactions with other superstars and the ability to smacktalk during interviews, which all creates more of an impression that the show really is going on while you are killing time before a match.
Like all good sequels, there are plenty more creative options when creating your own musclebound monstrosity. Now there’s 77 different haircuts, 144 different tattoos, new outfits including a ridiculous Gorilla suit, mask designs and the ability to create crowd signs. The Finisher mode has also been beefed up, with 600 new positions as well as the ability to create moves using the ropes. All of this means that creative minded individuals will be able to create many of the fan favorites from old or keep the game updated in tandem with the modern day. Thankfully for all the lazy fans out there who don’t want to make it all themselves, there’s always the dedicated online service to download more talented gamers’ creations.
This is the most complete wrestling experience that’s been provided in years
THQ have listened to the complaints of last year and added the features which players have been clamoring for since the last generation. Hell in the Cell matches being tweaked to offer combatants more room is a prime example of this commitment to the fans.
WWE has gone through some significant changes over the past 12 months but SmackDown vs RAW remains the value-packed experience fans will expect and it seems this year is no different.