Published on November 6th, 2010 | by Daniel1
Review: SmackDown vs RAW 2011Release Date: 26 October (US) 29 October (EU) Genre(s): Sports Game Type: Retail Publisher(s): THQ
SmackDown vs RAW 2011 is the eighth iteration of the successful WWE videogame series and besides the usual yearly tweaks and slight changes, the really big new introduction is WWE Universe mode. WWE Universe tracks everything you do during your time in the ring with SmackDown vs RAW 2011 and collates this data to form relationships or rivalries and to form a ranking system for #1 Contenders, and so on and so forth. It’s a really great addition, and you can get involved to a great extent or you can just leave it be, ticking along in the background. If you choose the first option, you can take part in match cards for RAW, SmackDown and Superstars that are created by the computer based on relationships, rivalries and #1 Contenders at that time, or even change the matches completely if you’re not happy. If you choose the second option, you can hop in and play a match whenever you like, it’s truly up to you. WWE Universe is like a living, breathing WWE world where the relationships and rivalries between Superstars are constantly changing and the title holders are forever being targeted by numerous wrestlers looking to reach the upper echelon of the WWE, and this really translates well to the game.Besides the hefty addition of the WWE Universe mode though, there isn’t much new to SmackDown vs RAW 2011. This year’s tweaks and changes include an “improved” Road To Wrestlemania mode which is actually a step back in my opinion. This year, RTWM features a backstage area for you to roam around in before matches, and it is awful. It’s bland and lifeless with only the odd Superstar placed around for you to talk to or start a fight with, it’s just a bad, annoying distraction away from the wrestling. There’s improved weapon and rope physics meaning wrestlers won’t just go through the non-existent ropes any more, they do actually hit the ropes to an extent and the same goes for the weapons. No longer do you have to perform a canned animation to put a lifeless John Cena through a table, oh no, you can now simply stand near the table and voilà, John Cena is flat on the canvas with splinters rippling up his spine. This year the graphics are improved too as you’d expect, the Superstars and Divas of the WWE look great and authentic, which really adds to the realism on top of the same solid gameplay we’re used to. However, SmackDown vs RAW 2011 is prevented from being a stand out game because of issues with the game that have been present for years, and new issues that have arisen. The commentary and announcing is extremely poor in parts, passable at best and it really does extract the player from the experience of the WWE. The graphics (besides the wrestlers) can also look horrible in parts. Take the backstage area in RTWM, for example. It’s simply a bland area of grey walls a grey floor and a grey ceiling, it’s just not good. For years the SmackDown vs RAW franchise has generally been a purchase for the hardcore wrestling fans and no-one else. But with this year’s game, it’s actually hard for a hardcore wrestling fan like myself justify the £40 spent on it. With the WWE Universe mode being the only new addition, maybe this franchise is in need of a shake-up. Perhaps 2011’s WWE All Stars can provide a new take on the wrestling game genre?