Reviews - Multi Platform
Written by Eric Dionne Thursday, November 04 2010 16:08
Finally...Smackdown vs. Raw... HAS COME BACK... to consoles! It's been a long year waiting for WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 to arrive, and I'm so glad it has. Read my Content Preview for a little extra info that I won't mention in the review.
Just like every year, we get brand new features, improved old features, and a new roster of WWE Superstars. But like always, some things take a step back. Some of the new things are great, while others, not so much. Read on while I tell you a little tale about the good, the bad, and the glitchy of THQ's new WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 video game.
Let's talk graphics. The visuals seem the same as last year, not that there is anything wrong with that. I mean this IS the fifth next generation WWE game (let's pretend the PS2 version doesn't exist, since it shouldn't). But you'd think SOMETHING could've been improved on this year. The character models do look amazing, but some of them look downright wrong. Drew McIntyre has a weird neck, Ted Dibiase's neck and shoulders just look odd, Kozlov walks like a woman, etc. But other than these small things, in general, the character models are great, especially the Undertaker, RVD, and Jake "The Snake" Roberts. The ring looks great as do the weapons and arenas, but sadly, the crowd still looks like they're from a PS1 game. Come on, THQ and Yukes! Why not make thirty generic models, make 30 shirts, and mix and match them to the models? Something small like this would've made it that much better. Also, change the animations of the crowd to be a few seconds shy of the others. There's nothing more weird than seeing septuplets wearing the same shirt and hat all doing the same exact Arsenio Hall style fist spin.
The best part about this year's game is the new physics engine, and Youtube user daanesh's video after this paragraph shows how great they are this year. Tables and ladders break and fall very realistically. If you hit the edge of the table, it'll buckle but not break, ladders and tables can be leaned on the ropes for some amazing outcomes. Weapons can be thrown, and the steel steps have never been so fun! Put it in the ring and slam a guy onto it, he actually reacts to it and lands on it realistically. If his leg hits it, he holds his leg. The same goes for the neck, back or arm. Want to throw a guy through two tables at once? Stack them. Want to put a table outside of the ring, push over a guy who's on a ladder and see him fall through it? Do it. This is the great thing about this game. The one gripe I still have is this: Why does hair still fall through the character models bodies? It's the year 2010, haven't programmers figured out how to make hair rest ON the model and not clip INTO the model?
Now here's a little bad news; the controls have changed. Now while I am already 100% used to the controls, I don't agree with, nor do I understand, the reason behind changing it. In SvR 2010 the right stick did 4 quick grapples, one for every direction. RB was a modifier to tie up into a grapple to then do a strong grapple. Now in SvR2011, that has since flipped and the modifier removed in favor of the old "groggy" grapples from earlier games in the Smackdown series. It kind of sucks, plain and simple. See, now you get tons of quick grapples, and less groggy grapples. To top it off, they made it so Superstars finishing moves can now be used as standard grapples. That is very lame. But other than that, after playing for a bit I'm at least used to it by now, so no problems. Pinning is now B which drove me nuts at first since down on the right stick was pin, and also B used to be the "pick the guy up" button but now that's up on right stick. You'll all figure it out.
The biggest new feature for this game is WWE Universe mode. In this mode, which is essentially Exhibition+, the game sets up matches based on how you play the game. If you constantly put William Regal vs. Goldust, then those two will be put in a feud. Each week when their respective shows come up, they'll be put in some kind of match. You see, this mode follows the weekly WWE schedule starting from the day after Wrestlemania. The mode then goes to RAW, Superstars, and Smackdown each week, culminating at a Pay Per View (PPV) at the end of the month. During each show the game constructs a schedule of matches. You can change these matches to whatever you want, but the downside is titles can ONLY be defended at PPVs. Want to hear another catch to this? The CPU chooses the title matches based off feuds and who is the current champ. So say it's The Miz vs. Kofi Kingston for the US title, but you want The Miz to face Yoshi Tatsu, you can't. Why, you may ask? Well, Kofi was chosen because he was the #1 contender. If you change this at a PPV, then the match can still happen with Miz/Tatsu, but sadly it's no longer a title match. You have to climb the ranks to become #1 contender for any of the main titles. So if Tatsu is at the bottom, have fun putting him in matches against others in the US title contendership and making sure he wins his matches or it won't happen. Even then, you have to rely on the game to make the match at a PPV on its own. Also, if you make a tag team, the Universe will randomly break them up. While this can be cool, what's NOT cool is that it also breaks them up from your created stables. So if you spent time making and naming a team, BAM it's gone and you have to make it again. Another sad truth is that when you click the right stick to turn off Universe mode, and it becomes simply exhibition mode, you cannot defend certain titles. You can defend unlocked titles such as WCW, ECW, Hardcore, Million Dollar, and the WWE and World tag titles, you cannot defend the main titles: WHC, WWE, US, IC, Divas, Women's, or Unified tag titles. The main titles are locked onto Universe mode and cannot be used outside of it. There are ways around having to wait for PPVs to put titles on the line but you will have to find it online.
Let's discuss the franchise's third year of their Road to Wrestlemania mode. This game takes place during four months before Wrestlemania, the super bowl of the WWE. In this mode, you have five stories to choose from between Christian, Chris Jericho, John Cena, Rey Mysterio, and a "vs, Undertaker" choice. The first four are obvious, where you choose a guy and follow the story. The one where you face the Undertaker is slightly different since, in this story, you can choose to use Kofi Kingston, Dolph Ziggler, John Morrison, R-Truth, or a Created Superstar (Who I will from now on refer to as a CAW for Create-A-Wrestler thanks to old school wrestling game terminology). In this story, your main goal is to beat the Undertaker's 18-0 record at Wrestlemania. The story is plain weird, but in my opinion is the most fun. The mode has a new "free roam" aspect to it. I say free roam in quotes since the area you roam is not exactly that. Also while running around and using right stick for camera movements, I got pretty dizzy at times due to constantly needing to move the camera to see, since the view is literally like 4 ft. away from the player. Each week you have a match or do something else within the story, up until you reach Wrestlemania. Sometimes there's a path you can choose, making the outcome a bit different, but ultimately it's not that in-depth.
Story Designer makes a return to the series. There are a lot more situations to choose to add to your stories this year around as well as dialogue to add in from the commentators. They also fixed the huge problem that plagued the game last year with putting CAWs into a created story. Now you can have any fifteen CAWs you want in a story and use them as much as you want. You can also post your stories online for others to download as long as they don't include any DLC or characters that you yourself didn't make. I haven't done much with this mode yet but so far so good.
All the fun additions from SvR2010 have returned. We have Superstar threads where you can edit the colors of the superstar's attires, but sadly you still cannot change their actual attire or physical features. Highlight reel is back as well. Here you can take clips that you save from matches and use them to make fun videos or a Titantron video for your CAWs. Create-an-Entrance is back as always and is pretty much the same as the last few years. The paint tool has also made a triumphant return. Here you can create designs to put on your superstars clothing to give them their own unique look. The best thing about paint tool is that you can create Logos now, too. Did you plan to make all TNA CAWs and have them invade the WWE? Well now you can make a TNA logo and do just that.
Create-A-Finisher (CAF) returns for its third year in a row, and now adds turnbuckle grapples to the mix. This is still a great feature as you can make some amazing looking (albeit occasionally unrealistic) finishing moves. Want to make a back flip, into a front flip corkscrew turn splash? You can, I sure did. The only thing I hate is there's no way to make a turnbuckle super brain buster which, again, was in WWF No Mercy. I know, it's not fair to compare to older games, but if it was in old games, and was amazing, why is it not still around?
Anyway, CAF is not without its limitations. You can only string together 10 items. This includes position setups, taunts, and moves. In aerial finishers you have to take into account air time (which only allows for a few motions) as well as height and distance. The speed of moves can also be controlled in any of the three finisher types. This year we can incrementally speed up or slow down the motions which is good and helps out a lot.
A new feature added is the Match Creator. Now, we all know this is a lie. Why, you ask? Well, WWF No mercy for N64 had this "feature" ten years ago. Match creator is simple; you pick your match, but this allows you to change certain stipulations. Now this may sound good on paper, or on a sexy Glitchy Tasty game review, but they restrict the stipulations WAY too badly. It sounded good at first, being able to choose pinfall/submission on, off, or both, 2 out of 3 falls, elimination on or off, etc... But looks can be deceiving. You see, when you select a match, only certain stipulations can be chosen. Want to do a 6 man Hell in a cell with elimination selected? Too bad, it's grayed out. If you want to do a fatal 4-way First blood match you can... but since in this game the B button in first blood matches is pretty much an auto-bleed face punch on the ground move, it's useless. And no, you cannot put a ladder or table in the HIAC match, or in an inferno match or whatever. Basically, if it sounds too good to be true, in this game it 100% is. Hell, in No Mercy I could do a 40-man Royal Rumble, with hardcore match rules applied, and make it pinfall/submission instead of over the top elimination. Here we are ten years later... and we STILL cannot do things that were in older games. Have THQ and Yukes not figured this out yet? ALWAYS look at older wrestling games, see what they had, and put it in your new games! I mean, this game doesn't even have Triple Threat Tag matches, yet TLC matches are in? Name me a TLC match that DIDN'T have 3-4 teams of two wrestlers besides the very first one? Yet I can do 3v3 ladder matches and NOT TLC matches in this game?? I don't get it.
While I'm on the subject, let's talk match types. Elimination chamber and Inferno matches return with very little changed, besides being able to jump off the top of the pods in the chamber which was removed from last year's game. The best thing about this is we can finally defend title in the Elimination Chamber again. Besides what I've mentioned so far, cage, ladder, table, Hell in a Cell, extreme rules, mixed, Iron Man, last man standing, first blood, submission, backstage, and Battle Royal modes can be used in tag team, triple threat, fatal 4-way or 6-man matches with the exception of a few here and there. Championship Scramble also makes a return. In this match, the current champ at end of the time limit becomes the champ, and usually it's always a draw. Royal rumble returns too and is the same as in last year's game, 10,20, or 30 participants in an over the top battle royal, with 6 in the ring at once. The one good thing? it's online this year as is the Scramble.
So the final mode to talk about is CAW mode. Once again, there's still only about 20 total face types to choose, and while there's more varied attires, some were still removed which serves no purpose other than to be annoying. The point system for things is back so you can only wear a certain amount of items before it stops you, but at least items take up less points this year. You still cannot choose match outros for your CAWs match winning animation. The matchup screen poses are there but only about 18 to choose. The CAW call names have a fair amount of entries, but a lot are garbage, and once again they removed ones from previous games. They changed muscle/body morphing so physiques can be more uniquely created which is one good thing, yet transparency options have been weakened and are only on tattoos. Now apparently that's a big deal to big time CAW makers but I never even realized it was in SvR2010. You can still make three more attires for your CAWs as well as changing their in ring, entrance, and cinematic attires on each of the four total attires you make. The one silver lining is that we can finally add any abilities and any stats we want to our CAWs. Also, after making them, if you want to change some stats around, you can do that too, which has been sorely lacking for years. Once again, you can edit the CAWs moves, as well as the superstars, but there is a much more limited amount of moves this year and it's very noticeable.
There's not much to say about sound in this game. The menus play Wrestler themes and licensed songs for the game, yet this year we cannot click the left stick to change to another track, this makes you go nuts when Cody Rhodes' "smoke and mirrors" theme plays over and over again. Once again, you can use custom songs for Superstars or CAWs, but this year the tracks sound twice as loud as the ones already in the game. Also, if you want it to start and end at a specific time, you have to edit it yourself on your computer using some program before putting it on a disc and then onto the hard drive.
Now we'll discuss the WWE Online community. Every year, THQ claims that "this year is focused on online!" and to quote The Miz, "Really? Really?"
You see, online still lags, sometimes badly, no matter what your speed. While the Royal Rumble is fun online, it can lag like crazy with 12 people in the match (6 in the ring at a time). When you're waiting, whether from before you enter, or after your first elimination, you have trivia questions you're asked such as "who will be eliminated next?" or "Who will enter next?" If you get them right you earn points for online which increases your rank. As you win matches, you rank up. It doesn't do more than add something to show off to people though, so it's kind of lackluster in that sense.
Community downloads makes a return and it really is better than ever. Here you can upload or download CAWs, logos, paint tool designs, finishers, stories, and highlight reels for others to view/download. This is much better than last year due to its superior organization. Not much else to say except this makes it much easier to get created former wrestlers and whatnot.
Finally, we move onto glitches. Watch Opaiti's funny as hell youtube video below to see a fun use of the new Havok Physics. But with bouncy steps there's also ladders randomly flipping out and flying into the crowd, men randomly having the divas grunts and noises during a match, etc. Basically, with new physics, comes new glitches. Now there's also a glitch I have to mention, which some people claim doesn't exist but it does. This is called: the pin glitch. You see...most of the time you can win a match in about 20 seconds. Now I play on Legend difficulty, and with a one-button reversal system it's even easier. But when I can grapple about three times, go for a pin, and win, on Legend, something is terribly wrong. I was playing against Fellow Glitchy Tasty writer Tony H., and we changed to the good old button mash style in the options. So I start the six man HIAC match and pinned Tony after about 2 minutes, he mashed like crazy and was barely damaged at all, and he just couldn't kick out. So we played again, this time he pinned me in about one minute. So apparently it doesn't just affect the CPU. So we went back to the Tap/Hold system. This system is flawed too but works the best. This isn't a game breaker when playing with human opponents, but against the CPU it's just too easy.
"But Eric, how about you just don't pin them so early?" Why should I do that? Watch ANY WWE match and tell me they don't go for a pin after a random elbow drop or body slam? Watch any of the three Daniel Bryan vs. Dolph Ziggler matches recently and tell me they didn't go for a minimum of ten pins throughout the whole match. It wasn't a problem in the other games. If they weren't "in the red" from damage then they couldn't be pinned. Period. So why must I just "not pin" them until later? How is that realistic? Guys win from roll-up pins all the time without ever using a finishing move.
All in all, the game is fun, barring the limited title use/defense in Universe/Exhibition, pin glitch, and random physics glitches (which sometimes make the game even more fun). I think I'll agree with most other publications that this games deserves the score I give it at the bottom. The game is well worth it if you plan to play with friends, and online doesn't always lag. But with CAW mode finally not forcing me to grind for hours to level my guy up, this game is a must for me, plus they are working on a patch for a few of the issues I addressed so that's at least something. But if you enjoy WWE, and enjoy CAW making, then go nuts because the grinding for hours to level them up is no more!
80 out of 100