Wednesday, November 17, 2010

WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011 (PS3)

Type: Review
Developer: THQ

In most cases, telling someone you are going to control glistening oiled men in their underwear will get you some weird looks and a call from your pastor.  If you tell them its from the WWE, you might get less weird looks and at least the pastor will take you off the prayer list.

Raw vs. Smackdown 2011 is the latest annual installment of sport's entertainment.  Whole new rosters, whole new modes and a whole lot of tweaks and twinges have been added to the latest installment.  There's a lot of reasons to check this game out if you have never played a wrestling game.  Also, there are a lot of bad graphics choices that make me wonder what THQ was thinking.  But overall, the game is worth the three count.


Create modes are what attract a kid like me.  There is a robust roster of wrestlers reflecting the 2010 roster, but I hunger to build all my wrestlers from scratch.  Create a Wrestler mode will take you a solid hour and a half to make a full fledged combatant.  If you are worried about the nitty gritty of the wrestler, than expect 3 hours.  This includes making the move set, the in ring attire, the entrance movie and the highlight reel.  You can't take shortcuts otherwise your combatant will walk around in his skivies in the backstage with no entrance music.  Other create modes include a signature move creator and a way to capture wrestling scenes and put them into a movie.  I always had envisioned a Create-A-Story mode for wrestling games, but never got around to creating the patent for it.  Now you can setup wrestlers, storylines and matches fulfilling your soap opera needs. 


Speaking of soap opera antics.  WWE SvR 2011 has some of the wackiest stories this side of the squared circle.  In Road to Wresltemania, you get five storylines to choose from.  Currently, my character, The Reaper, has to face off against the Undertaker.  What are my side missions, you ask?  Collecting souls and putting it into a magical urn.  What???  This and many more odd jobs are part of the story mode.  You walk around backstage, talking to different wrestlers.  Some will give you missions and others will start a backstage brawl.  You can even start the brawl with others.  Once you get into the ring you get your main objective.  The main objectives are easy, which are a blessing because wrestling games have never been that easy.


The fighting system covers virtually every move a wrestler can do in the ring.  This can seem overwhelming, except WWE was smart with their tutorials.  Much like NBA 2010, you can practice your moves on the title screen.  Figuring out how to irish whip, get into the ring, climb a turnbuckle and pin a wrestler has always been tricky and it doesn't get any easier in this game.  You don't have to worry about combos or button bashing; your only concern is hitting the R2 button at the right time to counter.  One thing you’ll have to get used to is the fact that this is more of a simulation than an arcade fighter.  Moves aren’t going to sky rocket your opponent through a brick wall.  But there will be that one moment when your character reverses an irish whip into a top rope moonsault and you find yourself chanting, “this is awesome!”

None of the game modes stuck out so much, but they all had their replay value.  Road to Wrestlemania was the story mode part of the game.  You can also play an entire year of PPVs and see how many titles switch around.  Online presented a bit of a lesser experience.  The camera angles had to be pulled back for more than 6 combatants and the framerate dropped down to a halt.


Now for the downsides.  Road to Wrestlemania has some very pecuilar design choices.  The backstage is setup like a Legend of Zelda dungeon and it is pure ugly.  This is not just normal ugly, this is losing a bet ugly.  From the loading screen which shows you Playstation 1 quality trees and skyline to the very bland looking backstage area, THQ dialed back the quality of this mode all the way into the Stone Age.  Even the backstage brawls look spacious and boring.  Why?  Beats me.  Perhaps the art director had a nephew who wanted to give it a shot.  Perhaps this is a tribute to PS1 games.  It just doesn’t add up.

So technologically, the game did not proceed forward, but I feel this iteration of WWE SvR made some logical choices.  Removing the long load screens, the flustering controls and the annoying extras, we have a solid game.

Pro wrestling has always been a constant metaphor for the human condition.  Just watching an episode of WWE you can see trials of determination, greed, covetousness, pride, hope, joy, trial and failure.  All these wrestlers are fighting for the belt and they will do whatever is in their power to get it.  In the same way, life presents its own belts and asks us to fight for them.  Some people will beg, borrow and steal for the newest toys.  Others will puff themselves up for the praise of others.  Others will train themselves till they are considered perfect.  While we chase after these things, a certain psalmist explains what the true title belt of life is,

 “1 Blessed are those whose ways are blameless,
   who walk according to the law of the LORD.
2 Blessed are those who keep his statutes
   and seek him with all their heart— “    
Psalm 119: 1,2

To the psalmist, pleasing God and living by his ways is the best reward for this life.  Those who sought after God were considered blessed and their lives were richer than anyone else’s.  Is this a call to be absolutely perfect?  No.  If happiness came through perfection no one would be happy.  But I do encourage you to negotiate what your title belt of life is.  If its not to please God and live for him, then what is it?

+ Simple, easy to use interface and controls
+ Great create modes
+ Much replay value

-- Ugly backstage
--No superior single player mode


No comments:

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...