Review by quintastic87
A Few Thoughts & First Impressions
So I just purchased Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011 today, and spent a good six hours engrossing myself in the experience before having to head off to the good ol' graveyard shift. So although I haven't had nearly enough time to submit an in depth and comprehensive review of the newest installment in the WWE Franchise, I felt I should at least put in a few cents worth towards anyone interested in picking up this game and what they can expect from SVR this time around.
Things definitely look a lot sweatier this time around. As it doesn't take more than a few moments of match play to see each superstar shining like a Twilight Vampire from their physical exertions. The random and annoying bugs seem to for the most part be removed. As everything looks a lot smoother, with grapples and reversals no longer becoming scrambled. High Risks adjust themselves in mid attack depending on your opponents position, so there's no awkward landings. And your superstar's limbs arn't reaching through your opponents liver like they used to during submissions. Everything seems well put together, the only exception being certain collisions with the mat near the ropes will have your superstar slightly off the apron and moving right back into the ring. So a little clipping with the ring ropes is still a problem. But nothing serious.
As far as individual character models go, they definitely took a great deal of effort to ensure the accuracy of guys like The Miz, John Cena, Randy Orton and the like. But certain guys like Sheamus and Drew McIntyre who haven't made an SVR presence before this game look a little like their heads have shrunken in comparison. But their actual character models don't look nearly as bad as their posing pics during a match screen (with Drew being especially atrocious).
All in all I can't tell whether it's a downgrade of the actual character models or an upgrade of the Create-A-Wrestler models, but everyone seems to be more matched up graphically speaking than before. When in previous games your CAW always looked so unnatural compared to everyone else.
Which brings me to,
Create-A-Superstar(or Wrestler, whatever)
Everything is pretty similar from last years installment. With a few exceptions. They have obvious supporting attires and hairs and such for the likes of Jeff Hardy, Kurt Angle, Jerry Lawler and Goldust, just out of ones I was able to pick out. They brought back designs such as the American Flag, Rainbow Psychadelic and other such patterns, which is greatly appreciated. As I hated having to try and go through Superstar Threads to make a half ass pattern to slap on my clothes.
You get all of your starting stats right from the get go. But depending on your weight class you have certain limitations. This helps so that you can't make an "uber character" with maxed out everything, while allowing more creative gamers to have the flexibility to set the stats from the start instead of having to do long and laborious grinding in Exhibition and Career Modes of years past just to get your CAW to a respectable power level.
Otherwise no real complaints from the CAS system this year. Only improvements that I can see. I suppose some facial restructering is in order, as my CAW's all seem to look very angry and/or awkward. The color scheme seems too extreme if you choose a default color of any kind. But at least they let you edit the pallete and shading to your taste.
I haven't dabbled too much in the regular exhibition mode, as most of my time was spent emersing myself in the WWE Universe. Which is essentially a souped up and spoon-fed exhibition mode with career mode implements. Very spiffy. But from what I can see is that you have all the normal bells and whistles of Exhibition. The commentary is still horrible no matter which mode you choose. As in some of the older games like Here Comes The Pain or Shut Your Mouth at least the commentators had something insightful or witty to say. But now all they do is spout off the same one-liners at least 3-4 times a match. With some awkward pauses sparsed in by saying "Kane!..." and not saying anything else but that. Or going "Tell us about Edge, King." and King replying dryly "Well, he certainly wants to win tonight Cole!" derp derpy derpy doo.
I spent the majority of my time playing this mode, as this is basically every general manager mode fans dream. The AI randomly sets up cards for you based on the relationships and rivalries that happen on a week by week basis in your Universe. And you can even book a majority of what happens yourself through setting up of matches and even playing the matches to ensure the turn out that you want. And with your ability to switch who's on what roster, with what teams you want, with what rivalries you want, you can virtually do anything you want. And if there's something that you can't do, chances are you're probably looking more into playing Create-A-Story anyway for more in depth control. And for things that happen within the Universe automatically, there's a handy "News" section that tells you of all the latest rivalries, team ups, upset victories and championship switches.
The only downside to this format is an issue of repetitive action sequences. Although it's great to play a singles match and have Vince McMahon throw out various guys like Vladamir Koslov, Finlay, Zack Ryder & Yoshi Tatsu at you as additional opponents that you can unlock after beating, the other cinematics begin to get old very quickly. Such as heels more often than not never coming out for their entrance and instead attacking their opponent from behind or while they are on their way to the ring, giving you an instant advantage at the onset of the match with a free finisher charged to boot. I've won at least two Pay Per View main events simply because Sheamus attacked both John Cena and Triple H from behind prior to his title defense, one celtic cross later and it's good night babyfaces.
Also, the interferences don't seem to matter that much. As I've had main event calibur opponents down for the three count so long that I still won the match holding a pinfall while the interfering babyface interrupted the count three times before finally being ejected. I just had to sit there and my opponent never had a prayer of kicking out. I don't know if this is a difficulty issue or a severe amount of inbalancing in regards to your ability to kick out of a finisher, as the toughest difficulty I have it set to thus far is Hard, which provides sufficient challenge while not making it balls hard for me to complete what I want to do.
Road To Wrestlemania:
Beyond WWE Universe this is going to be your bread and butter mode for unlocking all the essential remaining Legends and Superstars in the game. As well as participating in some ultra-linear storytelling. Seriously, don't be fooled by the "backstage free-roam" that they offer you. Week after week, I found myself in the same arena, with the same corridors. With 95% of the superstars you interact with telling you to "Get lost" and having nothing else to say. Some of them not even speaking with you, only giving you an option to push them three times before they initiate a backstage brawl under the same two stages every time, with very limited environmental grapple interaction.
Whenever I went to the GM's office, I never had any negotiatons like you could in HCTP or SYM. They always just say "Get out of my face" or "Move Along" and nothing else. And those that do interact with you to advance a storyline plot basically have one sided conversations that often end in "Stay out of my way" with no real opportunity for side-questing or changes to the booking already set in stone for you each week.
So basically, the only real benefit of RTW would be an outlet for those power gamers and completionists among us that want to get into every backstage brawl they can to grind their way to having maximum level "Grapple" "Striking" "Momentum Gain" and "Resiliency" that don't actually effect your character outside of RTW, and I'm not sure what difference they make inside of RTW either.
Oh, and by the way...Undertaker's RTW using a CAW is horrid. The storyline is solid, but your default CAW audio is atrocious. He sounds like a native of brooklyn who's been smoking for 30 years and just got out of a job at the Meat Market to go wrestle. His lines are also so campy and cringe-worthy it makes me want to punch babies.
I don't have much experience with Mapping out match types, Object interaction, Create-A-Story, Online Play, Create-A-Finisher, Entrance or exploring more options with the CAW features. But there's a far more in depth and informed review above me that should fill in any of those blanks. But all in all, this is a pretty solid game. And I see myself quickly creating a full roster of CAW's and getting right to work on Create-A-Story while at the same time fully enjoying the benefits of WWE Universe mode as I continue to shape and create WWE the way I've always wanted to. And if that's your thing, then I highly recommend this to you. But if you're more of the power gaming type, you'll be sorely dissapointed. Due to the automatic stat distribution of your CAW's, there's nothing to grind here beyond achievements. But hell, even that'll tie you over for many hours before fully completing everything you need. So there's a little something here for everyone. And with less and less bugs appearing every year, I think SVR is on the right track to greatness.
Rating: 4.0 - Great
Product Release: WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011 (US, 10/26/10)
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