WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010
Calling all WWE writing talent
Posted 3 years ago By - Zach R.
Most fans of annual sports franchises are a loyal bunch. Despite the fact that very rarely do they see any real upgrades applied to a game, they still buy every iteration of the title, year after year. The changes are usually small, and amount to nothing more than roster updates and a few bells and whistles that don’t justify the "new game" price. This year, THQ and Yukes are out to change that perception with it’s release of their annual Smackdown vs. Raw games. The question is, have they succeeded?
Right from the get go, anyone who has played previous versions of THQ’s WWE games will know, this is definitely not an annual re-hashing of content that appeared in last years game. Just taking one look at the menu screen will tell you that. How can a simple menu screen change things that much? Simple, you add a training camp that lets you learn the controls, without having to boot anything up. You don’t have to pause the game and choose this feature from the options screen. Just dive in and take the game out for a test drive. Finished with training? Simply click a button and the menu will appear, (without load screens), and choose your mode. Sure it’s a simple enough change, but it’s far more interesting than the lame menu screens they’ve rehashed year after year.
As for the modes, choosing one may be a bit more difficult this year than in the past, as there are a ton of modes to choose from. Of course, there are the modes from last year, which include Road to Wrestlemania, Career mode and the Quickplay feature, but it’s the new modes on offer that really make 2010 stand out. Customization is the name of the game, and the new modes definitely offer that. While we’ve come to expect certain creation features to be included in THQ’s wrestling titles, there’s one that’s never been offered before, and believe me, it’s a big one: Create-A-Story.
As someone who’s played every Smackdown game since the series debuted on the Playstation, this is what I, and a majority of fans have been asking for, and THQ have delivered beyond expectations for a first run.
Essentially, with Create-A-Story, you’re given a blank template, and what you do with that template is entirely your call. Want Edge to have Christian run down by a limo for stealing his pack of double-mint gum? Maybe Big Show’s angry at Triple H because he didn’t invite him to his birthday party at Chuck E. Cheese. It’s all up to you, and it works incredibly well. Pick a couple of "moments" (the actions that will play out the story), assign a backdrop, toss in some music, and add in some text, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a new feature. Stories can last up to ten years on the calendar, and on top of that, you can upload your stories to share with the Smackdown online community, or download other users stories.
The only real short-coming with the system is that created wrestlers can be used, but only in a limited capacity. In other words, you’re not able to start a 10 year story with the focus on just your created superstar, as they’re only allowed a certain number of appearances per story. This is disappointing, especially if you’re not necessarily a fan of the current WWE roster and want to add some old-school flavour to the game. Most will be able to overlook this, however, as the system is fun, easy and loaded with a ton of options.
The core experience, as far as where you’ll spend most of your non-customizable time, is in the returning Road to Wrestlemania mode. If you checked out last years game, there won’t be many surprises here, with the exception of the inclusion of a created superstar and diva storyline. Whether you enjoy the stories or not will all boil down to personal preference, but if you enjoyed last years game, this is pretty much the same solid mode with Orton, HBK and Mickie James taking the spotlight this time around.
The only mode that still falls a bit short of the mark is the Career mode. This is still a barebones mode that consists of you taking a superstar through a run for each of the titles, and eventually aiming to get into the Hall of Fame. There’s no story here, and frankly, even though there’s a couple of tweaks here and there, (you’ll occasionally see a superstar run in from the back), there just isn’t enough to really motivate players to stick with it for too long. In fact, with the inclusion of the Story Editor, the mode feels almost completely unnecessary.
The controls are pretty much the same, (barring some minor tweaks), as they’ve been since Smackdown’s 2007 debut on the Xbox, but that’s not a bad thing by any means. That said, the AI is also similar to that of Smackdown’s 2007 game, and that’s a bit more problematic. Veterans of the series will instantly recognize the problem here. On the easier difficulties, losing a match is almost impossible, whereas on the harder difficulties, even pulling off a move is a challenge thanks to the all-knowing, all-reversing AI. Thankfully, there are new sliders to adjust how often the AI reverses, (among other things), but the balance never feels entirely right. It’s an issue that’s been evident in the past, and it’s attempt to be rectified here is admirable, but in the long run, it’s still an imperfect system.
There are other issues with the AI that will come up frequently as well. Tag matches, Fatal Four-ways and other matches that have more than 2 superstars in the ring, are almost impossible to win by skill alone. No matter how badly you’ve beaten the other guys in the ring, or how many finishers you dole out, the second you go for a pin, it’s broken up by one of the other laid out wrestlers...even if they’re outside the ring. It’s still possible to win, but it feels less like you’ve earned it and more like you’ve gotten lucky. Again, there are sliders to adjust, and I didn’t spend as much time on utilizing these to see if they had a profound effect on this, but for those who are dedicated to using the default settings, it’s something you should be warned about before hand.
Of course, a WWE title wouldn’t be complete without its Create-A-Superstar feature. There’s again, a ton of options that have been put in here to customize your wrestler. However, those familiar with the tool are in for a few surprises. The first is that all clothing is now rendered in 3-D models. There’s a slight problem with this, however, as now you’re allotted a point value for the number of items your wrestler can wear at one time. This means that if you have a created character that you’ve been using for years, you may not be able to customize them to your liking, as the point value is relatively small. Another surprise, and this time on the positive side, is that you’re able to use custom paint tools, as well as utilize alternate attires for your created guys and gals. Add to this the ability to customize entrances, finishers and highlight clips, (which you can use in your custom entrance now), and you’ve got a ton of great features that give you more control over the WWE than you’ve every seen before.
Smackdown 2010 also has a standard online mode, which for what its worth is functional, but nothing life-changing. The real hit is the Smackdown Community features which let you download and upload user created content. The actual online gameplay is still pretty straight-forward, however.
Graphics & Sound
WWE games have always had a high level of polish, and 2010 is no different. Onscreen personas look very much like their real life counterparts. Still, the animations in-ring need to be improved. This is something that has held the series back for years. Wrestlers move around the ring in a very robotic fashion, and there’s still the clipping issues that have plagued the series since its inception. It’s disappointing to see so many improvements on offer here, and yet we’re still not seeing these old issues being addressed. That said, there has been significant improvement in move transition animations. Going from a lock-up to a choke slam is smoother, and the fluidity helps add to the feel that you’re actually doing more than just commanding a bunch of canned animations. (Which you are, but at least it looks and feels more organic this time around.)
Unfortunately, there were times I encountered some odd frame-rate problems. At times the game would hitch, causing a delay in movement. While it’s not a huge issue, there were times when it occurred for seemingly no reason, and allowed my opponent a split second longer to get the drop on me.
Audio-wise, the game’s a mixed bag of good and bad voice-over performances. One problem with the voice-overs in general, is that they lack the passion of the average tirade seen on WWE programs for years. Instead, it sounds as though they’re doing a script read-through, and aren’t exactly enamored with what they’re reading. Some are better than others, but overall the voice-acting is a bit flat in comparison to what you’d see on the program. The music selection in the game is pretty similar to last years version, with the themes for each wrestler playing during menu screens. Personal tastes will factor into this one, but the sound quality is quite good.
With the wealth of options on offer here, and the constant stream of user-created content found online, this is a game that’ll last would-be grappler’s a long, long time. While the other modes such as RtW and Career may be short-lived, creating and playing your own stories is addictive, and make it well worth the cash you lay down for it. Everything else is just icing on the cake.
Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 is the definitive wrestling title of this generation, so far. This is what WWE fans have wanted for near a decade now, and THQ and Yukes have delivered far beyond the usual yearly updates. A must have for anyone with even a passing interest in the world of WWE.
+ Ability to upload/download stories brings endless replay value.
+ Road to Wrestlemania is still a solid feature.
+ Move transitions are more realistic than they’ve been.
+ Having the training camp boot up with the load screen is great.
+ Creation tools are very welcome...
- Created superstars have a limited role in create-a-story.
- Frame-rate problems plague the game, even in single player one on one matches.
- Voice-acting is still very flat.
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Release Date : 2009/10/20
System : Xbox 360
Publisher : THQ
Developer : Yuke's Media Creations
Category : Fighting & Wrestling
ESRB : T
7.0 / 10
8.5 / 10
8.0 / 10
8.7 / 10