Review by LoveLeopard86

"WWE, Smackdown, Vs, Raw, 2011, Wrestling"

•INTRODUCTION - WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011 is the latest installment to the WWE gaming franchise and from THQ. The first Smackdown vs Raw was released back in 2000 and from then on have had a new WWE Smackdown vs Raw game released for the particular year.

•GAMEPLAY - WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011 is by far the best of the Smackdown vs Raw gaming series and is really fun to play whether it's on your own, with friends or online.

When you first put the game in and press start after the intro video, when the game has loaded, instead of the main menu coming up straight away, you are instead taken to the "practice arena" which gives you the opportunity to learn the new controls before playing the actual game itself but luckily this is only an option and if the player doesn't want to do this then a simple press of the start button will take you to the actual main menu where you can begin playing the game and other modes such as create, my WWE, online, WWE Universe and Road to Wrestlemania.

Some new players especially younger ones will find the game controls quite difficult to get used to as WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011 features a brand new control system which can result in the player losing their 1st, 2nd or possibly 3rd match whilst trying to figure out how to play the game. However if mastering the controls becomes to frustrating where the player feels like smashing their controller then this is where the practice arena, which can be found after you've click start or on the My WWE menu option, comes in handy. The practice arena pits the player (John Cena) against Randy Orton who will kindly just stand there and let you beat him up while the player learns how to do basic moves, signatures, finishers, ring dives and of course whack their least favourite superstar with a chair to the head. A great feature of the practice arena is that whilst the player is learning the games controls, the game provides on screen instructions, which the player can choose to ignore and follow.

Smackdown vs Raw 2011 features over 80 in game match modes for the player to choose from ranging from 1 on 1, tag team, mixed tag team, battle royals, Tables, ladders and chairs, extreme rules, royal rumble. The game also has a game mode called championship scramble which allows superstars to wrestle for a championship belt just for fun instead of letting the winning superstar keep it, which seems a tad pointless but fun all the same.

The game also has falls count anywhere and backstage matches, which allow players to wrestle in authentic WWE environments such as the General Manager's office, parking lot, corridor, interview area and the locker room. Unlike the previous games where the player could destroy the backstage areas to the maximum and wrestle for quite a while but still be entertaining, in Smackdown vs Raw 2011 the backstage matches can end really quickly which is disappointing and the backstage environments and scenery are pretty bland and weak plus to make things worse, the environments don't provide much weaponry to help assist your chosen superstar in knocking out their opponent apart from the odd chair lying around.

On a plus side, the game now uses a brand new physics system which makes gameplay more realistic than before. This can be seen when using weapons such as tables, ladders or chairs. To be more precise, ladders can now be placed on the ring ropes allowing superstars to run up them and do spectacular ringdives onto their opponents and unlike the previous games, ladders can now be broken when a superstar is thrown onto them causing more damage, chairs can damage and make superstars bleed more easily depending on how they are used on the unfortunate soul and they can also be thrown at other superstars but doesn't really do any damage. Tables aren't really any different from the previous games apart from they shatter into more pieces instead of in half but this isn't really anything to be raved about.

WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011 features a massive roster with upto 69 WWE superstars from both Raw and Smackdown aswell as legends BUT when you first play the game and view the available roster you only have about 20 superstars to choose from but don't fear as during the Road to Wrestlemania, WWE Universe and the online Axxess modes, you eventually begin to unlock more superstars and you will see your roster grow.

•STORY - The game doesn't really have a story or year mode unlike the previous games but when playing the WWE Universe mode, the game will create stories for you which can involve friendships and tag teams being formed, superstars who are meant to be friends turning on each other, "good" superstars who are cheered when they enter the ring turning bad and beating up their opponent after the match as well as turning their backs on the fans to then become "booed" on their entrance and of course rivalries between superstars which pretty much happens after every match, all this adds to the fun and adds surprising moments when you least suspect it.

The WWE Universe mode is on a scheduled calendar which features matches on Raw, Smackdown, Superstars and the end of month PPV event all the way through the Wrestlemania. WWE Universe allows you to unlock items like WWE superstars and PPV arenas but sometimes you will need to play a certain amount of matches to be able t unlock items.

Aside from WWE Universe, there's the Road to Wrestlemania mode which has separate story modes for certain WWE superstars, which are Rey Mysterio, John Cena, Chris Jericho and Christian plus there's a Vs Undertaker mode, where you can choose from Kofi Kingston, John Morrison, Dolph Ziggler, R-Truth or a created superstar to end The Undertakers Wrestlemania streak but you have to go through a story mode to get there first. Playing Road to Wrestlemania is important as it allows you to unlock WWE Legends such as . . . I'll let you find out for yourself !!!

•GRAPHICS/SOUND - The in-game graphics for WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011 have improved a little although sometimes doesn't go quite in favour of it's superstars, for example, Ted DiBiase's face looks like he's been stung by a swarm of bees, Maryse's in-ring hair flip during her entrance isn't as authentic as it is in real life . . it doesn't move basically and The Miz looks a bit demented. With that said, the other superstars do actually look and act like their real life counter parts.

The entrance videos and music are authentic for each WWE superstar and you are also given the option to upload and add your own entrance music from your hard drive for your created or current superstars, I mean who wouldn't mind Kelly Kelly coming out to Milkshake by Kelis but that's another story.

All in all for the XBox 360/PS3, the graphics could have been brilliant but sadly THQ have come across as a bit lazy with the in-game graphics but nonetheless, this doesn't ruin the game or it's fun.

The game features commentary from WWE Announcers Michael Cole and Jerry "The King" Lawler and although they do add authenticity to the game, the commentary can be repetitive especially with Jerry Lawler coming out with the same jokes over and over.

The Road to Wrestlemania mode uses the real voices of the WWE Superstars like Randy Orton, John Cena, MVP, Rey Mysterio and so on, this is a nice little touch and helps to make the game more genuine and authentic to the player.

•PLAY TIME/ REPLAYABILITY - With Smackdown vs Raw being a sports game, it doesn't have a "I can't believe I've spent £40 on this game and I've completed it in 2 hours" argument which is great and the game allows for plenty of replayability for the player to unlock hidden superstars that they've missed, complete X-Box achievements and create superstars and as mentioned previously has over 80 match types to choose from so there's plenty of reason to carry on playing the game.

•FINAL RECOMMENDATION - Those who like the WWE Smackdown vs Raw gaming franchise and WWE will enjoy this game and find it fun and enjoyable to play but for those who aren't really a fan but looking for something new would probably be best renting the game first to see what they think of it instead of spending £40 and being disappointed if they don't like it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 02/14/11

Game Release: WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2011 (EU, 10/29/10)

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