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''Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011', nothing but a jobber

Nov 12, 2010

By John Powell - G4 Canada

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Smackdown Vs Raw 2011You don't mess with perfection and you don't fix what ain't broke. Such simple advice yet sometimes, people still don't heed it. They tinker, tinker and tinker some more until something that was once great becomes a mangled mess.

Take last year's 'Smackdown Vs. Raw 2010' for example. That edition is the greatest wrestling simulator ever created, bar none. The only thing that was a little weak was the actual roster but developer Yuke's could hardly be blamed for that. They can only work with the talent the WWE has available to them. Plus, you can create your own grapplers or download those made by others so even if the WWE's talent roster is lacking, you can strengthen the roster all on your own.

'Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011' is just not the same game. Yuke's tinkering with the masterwork they created has reduced the experience in so many ways. The biggest change is to the control system. The number of moves that used to be available has been severely slashed, if you don't count punches and kicks.

Smackdown Vs Raw 2011Unlike previous editions, once you lock up with an opponent, you just move the right joystick to execute a maneuver. In "dumbing down" the control system for mainstream players, Yuke's has eliminated approximately 300 wrestling moves from the game granting each grappler only a handful to cycle through. With so few moves to choose from, the matches, especially in career mode, can become rehashes so easily and because there are so few slots, they have purged some of the superstars' trademark moves like Chris Jericho's 'Lionsault'.

If there is any good news in all of this it is that creating your own wrestler takes about half the time because building a move list is a snap since there are so few options available to you.

The real shocker of this year's edition is the graphics and audio are not up to scratch. The incredible attention to detail was the hallmark of the series. Not any longer. This year, you might as well be playing the game on your grandparent's colour television and on your original Xbox or PlayStation 2. Okay, things are not that bad but truthfully, it is close. New additions like Sheamus look truly plain and bland. The audio is no better with erroneous commentary occurring often. As a package, the audio and graphics are a total letdown when one is aware of the quality of Yuke's work in the past.

Smackdown Vs Raw 2011The 'Road To WrestleMania' story mode accurately reflects the WWE's product in recent years as there is more talking than actual wrestling. Sorry to say that Yuke's has resurrected that time vampire - backstage roaming - once again. Minutes you could be spending whacking someone with a steel chair or suplexing them from the top rope is now spent wandering around the backstage area and visiting required points of interest before you can step through the curtain. With an unlabeled, featureless map in the corner as your guide, you bumped into people who either advance your storyline or completely waste your time. There is no Skip option and when you try to leave an encounter, an invisible force field will spring up preventing you from doing so.

The only location in the backstage area of any real worth is the Trainer's Room. Not a "training room", folks, with weights and workout machines but a "trainer's room", as in medical personnel. Yep, that's where you can spend the experience points you gained by winning matches on bettering your abilities. Think about that for a second. You want to improve your skills, so you speak to the medical personnel? How can he help you gain more offensive or defensive power? The whole thing must be some kind of steroids in-joke by Yuke's. Too freaking funny.

Unlike preceding editions of 'Smackdown Vs. Raw', only two of the five playable storylines are remotely inspired. The ones revolving around Rey Mysterio, John Cena and Chris Jericho flip on by without so much as a twist or a surprise. Reuniting Edge and Christian is the hilarious focal point of Captain Charisma's storyline but it is the quest to end The Undertaker's undefeated streak at WrestleMania that's the star of Road To WrestleMania. Without giving too much away, the angle involves Paul Bearer, a host of The Undertaker's most nefarious foes and a druid or two. It is hard not to play the entire scenario in one session as the twists and turns are irresistible. The only drawback if you don't use a created superstar, you have to play as Kofi Kingston, John Morrison, Dolph Ziggler or R-Truth, none of which are close to being in the Undertaker's league.

Smackdown Vs Raw 2011It is during those climatic matches though where you will quickly become aware of another fatal flaw in the game. The way in which Yuke's made those opponents stronger is by having them reverse almost everything you do. Facing a stronger opponent who has a higher pain threshold and therefore more health is one thing. Fighting as foe who counters so many of your moves is just exasperating as hell. You barely have a fighting chance. It is very disappointing and very surprising that Yuke's would take developmental shortcut like this.

About the only feature worth picking up 'Smackdown Vs. Raw' is the 'WWE Universe' mode which has replaced "Career Mode". Using the same complex algorithm applied by Alexandra York's laptop in her WCW days, the game monitors your gameplay, choice and then builds generic cutscenes and matches for you to play. It is a great time-waster and can get addicting if you follow along regularly.

Notwithstanding cosmetic changes like illegal objects not disappearing, allowing players to create new match types and event triggers in the story designer, the 2010 edition of 'Smackdown Vs. Raw' has much in common with the rise and fall of the New World Order when the legendary stable came into being and was focused with just a few select members, it was all the rage. Soon though, WCW took things too far opening up the membership to almost anyone including Dennis Rodman, Horace Hogan and Scott Norton. Creating so many factions led to even the Latino wrestlers getting their own NWO.

Smackdown Vs Raw 2011That's what fiddling with a good idea gets you, folks: the LWO or in this case, 'Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011'.

Special Reader Alert: Each new copy of the game contains an "Online Pass" allowing one user to play the game online for free. Players who rent or purchase a used copy of 'Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011' will receive a trial pass but must eventually buy their own. Also, if you want blood in the game, you have to switch it on in the 'Options' menu as it is automatically turned off in association with the WWE's latest attempt to turn back the clock and make all of their products "family friendly".


Smackdown Vs Raw 2011'Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011'
Format: Xbox 360
Publisher: THQ
Developer: Yuke's
ESRB Rating: T for Teen
Official Site:

Rating: 4 / 10



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