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|Release Date: October 20, 2009
|Available On: PS3 and Xbox 360
Every year, many sports games hit retail shelves and millions of sports fanatics spend millions of dollars on the latest releases. True, there are quite a few sports titles, but only one sports entertainment game comes out every year. One thing you can say about the Smackdown vs Raw franchise, is that the way the game plays does vary from year to year. The last time I put any amount of effort into a WWE title was Smackdown vs Raw 2007, and I’m starting to remember why.
I understand it’s hard to keep a game fresh when it’s based on such a repetitive “sport”, but in my play-through of WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2010, I kept asking myself where my motivation was. Knock opponent down, pick him up, knock him down again, taunt once, powerful slam then climactic finishing move. Sounds too exciting to handle, I know, but I promise you’ll be okay. The one saving grace I found was creating my superstar with every option including creating finishers and move-sets.
Creating your very own superstar is a daunting task, but if you take your time, the end result could give you a reason to struggle through the “career” mode. The creation engine is surprisingly deep, and easy to use, which is a rarity among most customization modes in modern sports titles. Physically, you can make your brawler look pretty much however you want, and customize pretty much every aspect you desire. The “Create a Finisher” mode, however, leaves much to be desired.
The “Create a Finisher” portion of your fledgling grappler’s journey is fun and intuitive, but fails to live up to any real practicality. Moves are assembled in a slide-show format, where you pick different animations and place them in the order of your choosing to complete your crushing final blow. The only problem is that it doesn’t feel very crushing. The animations are pretty choppy and when you finally find a smooth flow of move animations, what comes out the other end feels very generic and doesn’t give you a sense of achievement for creativity.
The “career” mode is a joke. I’m not normally so blunt, but that’s all I can surmise from my experience. Unlock a “belt path” to beat six fighters to win a championship. Repeat this process over and over until you catch them all. To say this wasn’t more tedious than yardwork with a pair of scissors, would be a lie of epic proportions. “Road To Wrestlemania” has a bit more depth, but tacking a corny story with repetitive actions onto the same go-for-the-gold play style still gets stale very quickly.
The graphics in Smackdown vs Raw 2010 have dramatically improved since that of ’07, but the look is almost exactly the same as the last two years. All of the character models, arenas/rings and crowds look great. However, my biggest gripe is with the collision detection, which is terrible. I’m not talking about fists connecting with faces. Wrestlers can magically appear inside of the ring, walk through ropes/stairs/turnbuckles and even other wrestlers/referees. It gets to be quite the annoyance when you magically fall off of the 20 foot tall “Hell in the Cell” even when you are about 10 feet away from the edge. To me, this is the biggest thing they need to work on for this year’s offering.
Luckily, Smackdown vs Raw 10 sounds better than it looks. With bands like Trivium and Killswitch Engage, the soundtrack is one of the best I have witnessed in any sports related game. Even the wrestler’s entrance songs make for a non-cacophonous experience. What really impressed me was how much the crowd reacted with their heroes, especially when they are dominating the “bad guy”. With my created superstar, Omega (named because it sounds cool and it was already in the game and would be announced for a more realistic experience), the crowd started chanting “O-may-gah! O-may-gah!” which made me feel a bit closer to my brawler. The effort put forth in this department is evident, as different names allot for different chants; I actually heard the crowd chanting “Monster’s gonna kill you” for my other character with the nickname “The Monster”.
The controls have never made sense, and this year is no exception. While they are somewhat easy to pick up, you will find yourself asking “Why is the run button up here? It would be so much more intuitive if it was tied to one of the thumbsticks!” It’s more of a chore to string together imaginative attacks than it is a fun simulation. Everyone knows that professional wrestling is fake, but the controls and camera angles make it feel even more put-on than the live event. I was unable to find a button customization option for the controller configuration, and the ability to change even a few buttons, would be a welcome addition to Smackdown vs Raw 11.
Even for non-fans of the “sport”, getting together with friends to watch the shows can be a great, exciting experience. So playing a game based on the billion dollar franchise with friends should be a blast, right? After a few hours in the online world, my best summary of the experience is “Meh”. Sure, there is not much to the game that will allow you to stray from the beaten path (get it?) of punch ‘n pin, but it should at least be done well. On 8/10 matches, I experienced an immense amount of lag, and an uncomfortable amount of glitching. Matchmaking is also a tedious process, and players tend to quit often. I rarely have a better experience playing alone than with others in sports games, but with Smackdown vs Raw 10, I really found the online play to be a chore.
All in all, you can’t really expect much from a year to year wrestling game. I didn’t expect much at all, therefore it wasn’t possible to be disappointed. Smackdown vs Raw 10 is fun for a pick-up-and-play game, but you should only spend the money if you are a die-hard fan. I was a huge wrestling fan when I was in my preteen years, and I loved the wrestling video games. I felt some of that enjoyment coming back with this game, but it was only lingering. If you want a quick fix of sweaty man brutality, definitely rent or borrow this game, but don’t expect the initial enjoyment to stick around for the long haul.
|Replay Value/Game Length:
|7.5 out of 10
|Written by Evan Wilson
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