E3 2010 Preview: WWE Smackdown vs Raw 2011By Joe Rybicki - Posted Jun 17, 2010
What We Already Know:
Only that a sequel to the successful franchise was a no-brainer. THQ announced WWE: SmackDown vs. Raw 2011 here at E3.
What We're Seeing Now:
Wrestling fans have nowhere better to go for realistic (well, such as it is) WWE action than the SmackDown vs. Raw series, so it's no surprise that we're seeing a new edition this year. And it should probably be no surprise that not a whole lot has changed from last year's edition. The 2011 version appears to bring a series of refinements rather than anything approaching a complete overhaul.
One of the game's biggest improvements is the way objects and weapons are handled in the ring. Where previous version featured only the most rudimentary physics for objects in the ring, now things like tables, chairs, and ladders will break and deform convincingly -- and stay in the ring once they've been demolished. Furthermore, wrestlers will be able to interact with them in more convincing ways, like smashing an enemy's head between the legs of a folding chair.
Of course, THQ has made some changes to the actual wrestling engine, as well. For one thing, combos are now simpler to execute, with multiple taps on the same button stacking up to create different combinations of moves. For another thing, grapples have been refined, with different moves and animations based on not only the position of both wrestlers, but their condition as well. And grapples and throws can now be guided a little better, allowing players to direct where their opponents will fall. And speaking of grapples, the game now includes button-mashing segments that pop up anytime both wrestlers attempt a grapple at the same time. Tap the button faster than your opponent and you'll shrug off his grapple and engage your own.
Outside the ring, wrestlers will now get more realistic feedback from the crowd, who will shy away from action on the floor, or rush to high-five a celebrating favorite. And those taunts and celebrations will look better than before; wrestlers look more lifelike and move more realistically thanks to subtle muscle-flexing animations that have been added to every movement. Characters also take location-specific damage over the course of a match; for example, a wrestler who's spent a lot of time getting slammed to the mat will have a reddened, bruised back by the end.
Character customization has been a longtime feature of the series, and this year's edition aims to increase the options available to players with more designs and physical features, as well as more points available for adding more detail to your character. In addition, the game will allow for more scenes and matches in the story designer.
None of this is terribly revolutionary, sure. But the series is now in its seventh iteration (not counting the previous WWE games from THQ), and the formula appears to be working just fine for the company. And if it ain't broke...