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Review: Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011
Posted 08 November 2010 - 01:35 PM
Platforms: Xbox360, PS3, PS2, PSP and Wii (review written using Xbox360 version)
Release Date: October 29th
Developer: Yuke’s Yokohama
Age Rating: BBFC15
The following match is scheduled for one fall! Introducing first to the ring, weighing in at just over £30… Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011! And next to the ring, his opponent…
Oh wait a second; the SvR franchise doesn’t have any opponents, other than itself. So you’d assume an easy victory right? Well sort of. SvR 2011 is renowned for cramming in bundles of new features on every release. SvR 2010 saw the introduction of the Story Creator mode which was fun, if not a little fiddly. 2011 however see’s more than 70 WWE Superstars and WWE Divas, 100 match types with a huge array of playable arenas and back areas.
There are 2 main modes in SvR 2011; WWE Universe Mode and the return of the Road to Wrestlemania mode. WWE Universe mode is a new addition to the SvR franchise and empowers players more than ever to define their gaming experience. According to Yuke’s & THQ this means gameplay scenarios change based on our player decisions which allow for new rivalries and alliances to be formed, more championship match opportunities and a more spontaneous WWE experience. However, I am not convinced. I played countless hours on the WWE Universe Mode and was very rarely given any opportunities to make player decisions, I saw the same ‘spontaneous’ cut scenes countless times of which the most irritating was Vince McMahon changing the rules of a match. Now granted I was able to enter the Universe Mode as ‘Dynamite’ my created WWE Superstar and work my way to winning the WWE Championship but there were bugs and problems on the way to the top. For instance winning the Royal Rumble Pay per View (PPV) is supposed to guarantee me a match in the main event at Wrestlemania; the Showcase of the Immortals, this didn’t happen. Infact, I didn’t even get a match at Wrestlemania. It wasn’t until working my way back to the Elimination Chamber PPV event that I finally got a Championship match. And talking of Championships, you might as well not bother with the Unified Tag Team Championship. I created a tag team with Dynamite and Matt Hardy and we played countless matches across two full years in WWE Universe but not once did we move off the bottom spot of the rankings on our way to the number one contenders spot. I personally love tag team matches, but was left feeling completely unrewarded for all the work I put into our team.
On the flip side, Road to Wrestlemania, although short, is great fun. This mode was hugely successful last year and returns again with new and exciting storylines featuring 5 of the biggest WWE Superstars to date. 2 memorable stories are the ones featuring The Undertaker and the other John Cena and Randy Orton. But again, I think we have been slightly miss-sold. Now you can roam around the backstage areas and you can pick fights with a number of different WWE Superstars that are hanging around, but I don’t feel like you were able to deviate away from the story as promised. Player choices were supposedly available in Road to Wrestlemania mode allowing us to not only fulfil our chosen WWE Superstars ambitions, but ours too, but these were none existent sadly.
But not all is lost, yet. Fighter likenesses are generally good, despite their typically airbrushed look, with most of their signature moves on show. Combat has been significantly tweaked, with the AI at higher levels more adept at performing reversals, making it essential you use the new four-hit combos to reduce your opponent's alertness before moving in for a finish. There's also impressive implementation of the Havok physics engine, ensuring that any objects dragged into the ring behave, bend or break more realistically. So next time you perform a grapple with a steel chair, do not expect to be able to use it again. It will be in pieces spread across the mat.
The SvR franchise has always provided us with great creation mode tools. From creating a Superstar and their finishing move, their entrance (including movies taken from a highlights reel), a team, the teams entrance and finally create a story mode SvR2011 really does live up to its boast of providing some of the most in-depth and customisable options found in any creation mode of any game. And what’s more improvements have been made to the WWE Community Creations feature online which allows players to share all of their creations online for others to download and use.
Again however, I have a slight grumble. I like the Create a Story mode, it gives a lot of options and has depth however I miss GM (General Manager) Mode. There was something fun about last year’s GM mode that Create a Story mode just can’t replicate. So Yuke’s please give me back GM Mode for next year, please?
In SvR2010 one of my biggest gripes was the auto-targeting system which was just so imprecise it actually made some Fatal Four Way or Royal Rumble matches near impossible. Unfortunately for us, this hasn’t been fully fixed for SvR2011. Improvements have undoubtedly been made, but they are not yet good enough in my opinion. I honestly couldn’t tell you how many times I have ended up attacking the referee and knocking him out accidently when trying to grapple my opponent.
Okay now moving onto the Online modes and firstly you do need to activate Online Access once you get the game (new copies come with a code second hand copy owners will need to spend 800MS) and you don’t necessarily need the DLC to thrive ahead, but if you want to involve yourself in every corner of the WWE Universe, I suggest taking advantage of that option.
As for the online play itself I have very mixed feelings. SvR2010 was plagued by lag in almost every online match type and enjoying the experience was near impossible. SvR2011 was a mixed affair. Single matches are almost lag free and were a pleasure to play but during the six-player Royal Rumble matches it was impossible to play properly. The lag was unbearable in 7 out of 10 matches I tried. The fact you can now jump into any kind of match you want – Hell in a Cell, Survivor Series and so forth – is a nice touch.
While WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 doesn’t quite excel in every area when it comes to dominance, it maintains enough great gameplay, quality presentation and fundamental features to make it worth grappling with. WWE fans shouldn’t hesitate, and casual players will thoroughly like it as well.
Announcer style voice: The winner… and still king of wrestling titles; Smackdown vs. Raw 2011.
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