Reviewed: October 29, 2010
Released: October 15, 2010
I gotta tell you, the McMahon's are marketing genius'. Well, most of the time. The XFL was a bad idea. But professional wrestling has been on the cutting edge with pay-per-view and Hulkamania and larger than life characters. WWE has been very successful at turning “wrestling” into a soap opera for men! WWE is struggling a little bit it these days. The rise of real fighting in UFC and other MMA events is spreading people's pay-per-view dollars to other pockets. The shelves in Toys R Us are more crowded now than ever. WWE is hurting for stars too. Yes they still have John Cena and The Undertaker, but the new crop of names doesn't exactly set anyone looking for the nearest WWE event to attend. But one thing UFC doesn't have yet, is the drama of behind the scenes backroom brawls and cheating girlfriends. WWE has that market cornered. Now THQ has translated that PPV gold into another videogame. |
WWE SmackDown vs RAW 2011 has the most game types and options I've ever seen in a videogame. EVER. It's amazing. Any oddball combination of match types you can think of appears in this game, and if you do happen to think of something new, there is a new match creator to help you live the dream. In one-on-one matches there are 13 match types including a new backstage mode where you can brawl in various settings. There are newly enhanced versions of ladder matches, Hell in a cell, TLC, Table, and extreme rules. If that wasn't enough there is the match creator. Two-on-two matches have 12 variations, Triple Threat has 8 variations, Fatal-4-way has 9 variations, 6-man has 7 variations, and handicap has 7 variations. Then we get into Royal Rumble which has 10, 20, and 30 man rumbles. Lastly we have the Championship Scramble which lists 11 different championship belts up for grabs.
SmackDown vs RAW 2011 features over 70 WWE Superstars, over 100 match types,and 20 new arenas. The roster of wrestling “superstars” (male and female) to pick from is extensive, however the majority of them are unlockables so are not available when you first start to play. WWE has 34 stars (including Vince McMahon, Stone Cold, Triple-H, and John Cena), WCW has 10 (Bret Hart, Sting, Goldberg), ECW has 20 (Sheamus, Goldust), Smackdown has 27 (Hardy's, Undertaker, The Rock, and current UFC star Brock Lesner), there are 11 WWE Legends (Andre the Giant, Roddy Piper, Ultimate Warrior), and 6 ECW Legends (Sandman, Sabu). Sorry, no Hulk Hogan or Randy “macho man” Savage.
SmackDown vs RAW 2011 has a new physics system so interactions with various objects is never quite the same. You can stack ladders, garbage cans and other items to make unique scenarios. While developer Yukes seems to have really bent over backwards to bring new innovations to the WWE license, it doesn't seem to really add anything of substance to last years game. At it's core, the actual wrestling matches still don't seem real. There is a lack of placement in the scenes. I still find myself walking to a corner of the “squared circle” and my character keeps walking in place. This makes it feel more like a classic arcade game. But maybe that is closer to real life than I thought.
Along the way you can discover your path to greatness with the new Road to WrestleMania. You can roam freely around a WWE arena, encounter WWE stars, break into impromptu matches and brawls. The WWE world revolves around you. Your choices do matter and will greatly effect the storylines. You can even create your own story and entrance into the arena.
Once again, one of the strongest areas in SmackDown vs RAW is the area of creating your own player. There are 150 new parts to chose from, including all sorts of tattoos. You could easily spend hours just making your created wrestler. PlayStation network play has also been enhanced to include Royal Rumble. You can also have 5 and 6 player matches. The catch is in order to play online you have to either buy the game new or buy an Online “Axxess” code for $9.99. Buying new gets you the code for free – its printing in the manual.
That's all well and good, but the online gameplay is almost a nightmare. About one in every 4 matches I played came to a halt when the game froze or players disconnected. I would certainly hope THQ would be bringing a patch for these issues, but I am avoiding online gameplay until these issues are fixed. If it were not for these issues, the online play is on par with last year, but with more players to beat down.
The graphics don't appear to have changed a whole lot from last year. That isn't a bad thing – the graphics are very good. But they haven't quite kept up with some other games' yearly graphical bump. The biggest changes are in overall presentation. The grand entrances and pyrotechnics have ramped up as has the sound to go with it. The “soap opera” TV feel of the game has increased greatly with bad dialog and worse voice acting. The tattoos of all the personalities such as Batista have been updated to include their latest ink.
The overall value of SmackDown vs RAW ranks up with the best of any game to date. The sheer volume of game modes and customization options is enough to last you months just to explore. There are a total of 40 Trophies to win on the PS3. About half of those are secrets which is kind of annoying. One of the reasons I keep playing some games is to complete the Trophies. But if I don't know what I'm trying to do to win one, it's pretty pointless. Everything is certainly covered from creating a painted sign for your character to doing over 1,000 holds.
SmackDown vs RAW 2011 does not support the Playstation Move at this time so you can't do a virtual beatdown in your living room... at least not yet. Additionally, the new game comes with an Online Axxess code, but if you got it used you can buy it for $9.99. With redemption or purchase of an Axxess code gets you some freebies including; Rey Mysterio with Day of the Dead attire character, Chris Masters character, Kelly Kelly with Sexy Devil attire character.
You can also spend another $9.99 on Fan Axxess which gives you all the unlockables, WWE Superstar Attribute Customizer, and an online ranking fan axxess badge. It is a discounted pre-payment for all future WWE SmackDown vs RAW 2011 downloadable content. But it does not include the normal online axxess or WWE Legend Bret Hart character. Additionally you can spent 99 cents to get all unlockables (over 60 in-game items), or spend 99 cents on the Superstar Attribute Customizer. Both of these items are included free with the Online Axxess. There are tabs in the online store for free items and discount packs so be patient.
With the hyperspeed growth of UFC, I really have to wonder if the WWE audience is shrinking. But the videogame has certainly expanded. It's to the point where I don't know what they could possibly do to increase its value for next year. If you enjoy the drama and pageantry of “professional wrestling”, WWE SmackDown vs RAW will certainly thrill you. The lack of many big name legends is a shortcoming, but the massive amount of customization options and user created content will keep any fan playing for months.