WWE Smackdown vs RAW 2011

November 18, 2010 at 12:01 pm 1 comment

WWE Smackdown vs RAW 2011 is – most unexpectedly for me – one of my favourite games from 2010. As someone who gave up on wrestling games a long time again, returning to the series with a PS3 version of the game was a very welcome surprise.

Not having played it’s recent predecessors, I can’t claim to make a clear comparison between the last version and this one, but one thing which is new is the WWE Universe, and that alone is most fascinating. The most enjoyable element of wrestling after all, has been the endless soap opera of alliances and rivalries and the almost comedic fashion with which loyalties change and trust is broken.

WWE Universe is your key into that world, and this is something that the game-makers have handled with great panache. As long as Universe is on (and there’s little incentive to turn it off) every match you play is part of a bigger script. There’s a career mode – the Road to Wrestlemania with which you can take one star and lead him to the championship belt, but even if you want to play a quick match the results that take place are recorded in the game and woven into a larger storyline.

Check the alerts and you might come to know for instance, that Randy Orton and Batista are now enemies, and I admit that I had no small part to play in that. Sounds silly? Well, isn’t that the charm of wrestling? And then of course, when Orton interrupted a match between Batista and the Undertaker to help me (now the Undertaker) out, it all made sense and fit with the larger narrative that I had, intentionally or not, been scripting.

Not everyone will notice the minute details of the way they are impacting the Universe if they are playing with one of the 70 existing characters, but the moment you create a character – a robust and intuitive experience – the whole thing becomes much clearer, and even more enjoyable.

The game looks okay. It’s not what you’d call bad looking, but we’ve all seen better by this point. The sound is very enjoyably crisp, and if you don’t wince when someone grabs you and runs your face along the chainlink walls of a steel cage match, then you’re just made of stone. The combat system is a little annoying at times, as the entire system is context sensitive, which can feel simply amazing around half the time, when the game does what I want, and simply absurd the rest of the time, when I’m busy beating up the referee by accident. The counter system, which was talked up a lot by the game-makers leaves me a little cold. Simply put, it’s overpowered and takes a lot of the fun out of the game at times, drawing them out into mindless stalemates where the reverse button is the only one anyone is paying any attention to. I spent most of the time running and then grappling because that’s hard to reverse, until my opponent was groggy enough to pull of signature and finisher moves, which are just a lot of fun.

The game, all in all, would come in at a slightly better than average 6-7 if that was the end of things, but the real fun, and there is a lot of it, comes when you have a friend over. The game is not a high skill brawler and it’s not something that is visually overwhelming, but it’s still an 8 or a 9 in my eyes. Somewhere along the way, the developers created something that is so addictively enjoyable that a half hour long Ladder match was instantly followed by all the participants shouting “again”. A lot of this is based on the combination of dumb luck, familiar faces and easy to understand gameplay, and sheer, ridiculous, outre possibilities.

Climbing to the top of the steel cage while your opponent is down and then changing your mind and not exiting (to win the game) but rather jumping back down on top of your friend? And then, while he shouts and begs for mercy, reaching down to pull off a Pedigree? Yeah. Again. Definitely.

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Videogames get gamers jobs!

1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. Blümchen  |  May 1, 2011 at 3:36 pm

    Toller Artikel, werd mich gleich mal für deinen Feed anmelden.

    Reply

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