Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 Hands-On PreviewBy Mike D'Alonzo - Posted Aug 18, 2010
What We Know: THQ brings back their venerable wrestling franchise with WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011, featuring the best of the WWE Universe, past and present, in onstage and backstage action, with special matches and tons of customization.
What We're Seeing Now: I was able to play a couple of matches and get into the customization system to play around with some of the variable elements of the game. First, I created a finishing move for my character, sort of a Razor's Edge meets Yokozuna Bomb from the new finishing position off of the corner ropes. You can string up to ten elements of a finisher together, and watch the animation to see what it will look like. Some of these moves are absolutely sick, with high-flying, physics-defying action. Then, you can choose a name for the move from one of the many that the developers have listed, to hear Michael Cole and Jerry "The King" Lawler call them during a match. I chose Huevos Rancheros.
Then, it was time to get into the squared circle to play a match and see what the gameplay mechanics were all about. I chose Randy Orton from a limited list of characters and fought against John Cena in a TLC Match. The new physics in the game make this immediately better than any other version of WWE SvR I've ever played. The objects in and out of the ring, including the aforementioned tables, ladders, and chairs, as well as the ring steps, all had unique weight and physical characteristics, so they all played different every time. There's nothing quite so satisfying as throwing Mr. "U Can't See Me" through several different tables and watching them break in interesting and creative ways.
Also, when the time came, I was able to execute a couple of The Viper's finishing moves, including the RKO and the head kick that is responsible to ending the careers of several legends. These moments happen in slow motion, with a special effect that definitely adds gravity to the situation.
I noticed right away that Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 is a vast improvement over other iterations of the game in that I was doing a lot less button mashing, and a lot more tactical wrestling. Mindless button pressing has been a main complaint of mine over the years, and seems to be something they've gone to some trouble to fix.
The ring entrances are, as always, just as electrifying as watching actual matches on television, and the presentation is as close to real-life wrestling as it ever has been. During the press event before I was able to play, THQ showed a lot of the backstage elements of the game, called Road to Wrestlemania, which will allow you to interact in many more and different ways than ever before, leading to you building up friendships or rivalries which will play out over the course of several months, or even years.
Also shown at the press event was the WWE Universe mode, which lets you change match cards and create new and interesting matchups and rivalries, taking the place of the old Career mode, and mixing up the Exhibition mode, to make something unique and different.
THQ has stressed repeatedly with WWE SDvR 2011 that they have listened to the fans to find out where they've succeeded, and where they've failed over the years with their franchise. I haven't had the chance to play a lot of the game, but what I did play seems to prove they weren't kidding. We'll have to see to what degree they weren't kidding when the game is released on October 26th across platforms.