Smackdown Vs. RAW 2010

Another year rolls by in gaming and we are presented with a new Smackdown Vs. RAW instalment to spend our hard earned Christmas cash on. The question upon every wrestling fan’s lips though, is “Is it better than SvR ’09?” Much to my delight, the answer is a resounding yes!

Many minor additions and tweaks have added some very necessary depth to the series’ immersion, an element I’ve always found to be lacking for the past couple of years. As much as wrestling fans would like to believe otherwise, WWE is more story heavy than it is fighting based. Creating the feeling that you are totally immersed in the WWE Universe, from the pithiest one-on-one match to the Road to Wrestlemania mode, is such an important achievement for SvR ’10. Straight away you are thrown into the ring before you even see a menu screen, and it appears the power meters at the top of the screen in game are a thing of the past. Instead, they have been replaced with a subtle circle around the player’s wrestlers feet, and once you see it flashing it’s time to unleash the beastly finisher you’ve been saving up the whole match for. To go with this, the controls have been tightened while remaining as intuitive as ever; with reversals being easily executed with a simple, well timed click of the right trigger (as opposed to hammering the ‘X’ button with all the speed of a monkey on cocaine). The entrances are about as close to perfection as I can imagine it possible, right down to the opponent still being present in the ring while the second competitor enters. The graphics are polished to a mirror shine, with almost every clipping issue from ’09 eradicated (with the only remaining survivor being the magical floating Championship belts).

To add more petrol to the fires of immersion, SvR 2010 has really tried to emphasise its new creation modes. From Superstars to Storylines, and finishing moves to alternate costumes, they all do a superb job of pulling your mind into the game and really forming some emotional attachment to the game universe. A personal favourite addition has to be the ‘Create a Superstar’ feature, and not just because I’m a man afraid of change so it gives me an option to remake old school wrestlers in HD. The main reason being that every true wrestling fan has imagined themselves as the champion of the squared circle, which makes the mind-boggling amount of customisation in the Create a Superstar mode fantastic, and with the ability to take over an hour of your life carefully crafting your new wrestler’s tattoo alone, it’s almost a certainty that you will bond with General Kick Ass (or whatever you name your Frankenstein WWE Superstar).

Tragically, with all these positive revisions and additions, there remain some negatives which really should have been dealt with by now. Ignoring the aforementioned levitating belt annoyance, the biggest gripe I have is the story mode. No, before you re-read the last paragraph, I’m not flip-flopping. Going through the Road to Wrestlemania mode with your own created Superstar is definitely the highlight of the game, but using real-life wrestlers is a bit of a dim glow in comparison. Are you a fan of The Undertaker? Kane? Rey Mysterio or Chris Jericho? In fact, a fan of any wrestler that isn’t Edge, Randy Orton, Triple H, John Cena, Mickie James or Shawn Michaels? Then tough luck, you’re heading to the Quickplay menu because the Road to Wrestlemania has no room for your decadent wrestler fandom. It adds a choke-hold to the game’s freedom, and considering that this mode is essentially the campaign of the game, you’d hope for slightly more variety. If you don’t want to spend a couple of hours of your gaming life playing as a character you don’t care about, not only are you missing the greatest part of the game, then you are forced to go to what they label ‘Career’ mode. Where your job is to play a tedious series of matches in a ladder formation, until you finally win the belt you’re been striving after, then continue fighting randomly generated matches which inevitably lead to nowhere. It hurt to feel as if I had completed all the carefully programmed and written part of the game after a few hours because I couldn’t gather any excitement about competing as Randy Orton.

The game does have staying power, but I say that under the assumption that there will be SvR 2011 come next Christmas. For now, 2010 definitely gives you many reasons to justify trashing 2009: the online play is solid and with no frame-rate problems at all, the variety of match types has continued to grow, and being able to create your own and download other gamer’s Storylines is a sure fire way to guarantee that any WWE fan should have this game proudly in their games collection. At least until Santa comes to visit us all next year.







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