Giant Bomb Review

22 Comments

WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2010 Review

3
  • PS3
  • X360

The gameplay is pretty clunky, but everything else surrounding it makes WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2010 a really interesting package for wrestling fans.


Woo. 
Professional wrestling is completely ridiculous... and I mean that in the best possible way. The age-old struggle of good versus evil, as retold by the likes of Chris Jericho, Shawn Michaels, Tommy Dreamer, John Cena, Triple H, and a host of other bulked-up muscledudes is classic and cheesy at its best and an ironic and hilarious train wreck at its worst. The problem with translating it into a video game is that the scripted moments in the physical action allow for a flow that can't be easily duplicated when you're trying to make an AI opponent behave the way they do on television. This year's version of THQ's long-running WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW series still has all of those issues. But it also has a story editor that lets players create new moments using the WWE's cast of characters. It's not perfect, but it's a great first attempt at letting WWE fans truly control every aspect of Vince McMahon's crazy universe.

There are over 60 wrestlers in the game, representing all three of the WWE's sub-brands and also including male and female wrestlers. The game's got just about everyone you could ask for, including all of the names mentioned above, as well as other wrestlers like CM Punk, Christian, Mickie James, and Matt Hardy. Also, since the list of people actually employed by the WWE seems to change on a daily basis, there are a number of selectable wrestlers in the game that are no longer with the company, like Jeff Hardy, JBL, Mr. Kennedy, and Umaga. You can also create your own wrestlers using a robust set of tools that allow you to apply preset clothing items and modify them with a paint tool that lets you create your own logos and other detail work. There's enough stuff in there to create reasonable facsimiles of real-life wrestlers who aren't on the game's roster (there are already versions of guys like Scott Hall, Magnum TA, and Hulk Hogan floating around), characters from other forms of media (I made a pretty lame version of Guile in about 10 minutes), or even just your own original characters, if you want to get fully creative.

In addition to creating logos and wrestlers, you can also create custom entrances, edit together video clips, and piece together finishing moves from preset animations. But the real crux of the game's creative side is the new story editor, which lets you create pretty detailed story lines by adding your own custom text to a set of prefabricated "moments." Most of the standard things you see week-to-week on a wrestling program are represented, like backstage interviews, shots of the commentators, wrestlers standing in the ring, shouting into microphones, and so on. The more dramatic elements of wrestling, like people getting hit by cars (with mystery drivers!) or wrestlers jumping out of the crowd to attack are also represented. Though I can certainly envision a few oft-used scenarios that aren't included (such as driving a beer truck directly into the arena, having a wrestler break through a wall and immediately fall down, or anything involving a coffin), the whole setup feels pretty flexible. You simply choose the location and animation, which characters are in the scene, and write dialogue, if necessary. You can also add matches with different goals to your stories, giving players something to fight for in-between story segments. Like the other created aspects of the game, you can share your completed stories online.

The story creator. Anything you do here will automatically be better than that Katie Vick thing.
In addition to just making things yourself, the game also contains a bunch of preset modes. The Road to Wrestlemania mode returns this year, offering preset stories for Edge, Mickie James, Randy Orton, Shawn Michaels, created superstars, and one called "Brand Warfare" that includes multiple wrestlers and can be played cooperatively. These start you out around 90 days before Wrestlemania, and take you through the lead-up to the biggest show the WWE puts on. Winning matches moves you through the story. Most of the stories are pretty decent and feel like they could plausibly occur on WWE's television programming. Beyond creating your own stuff, this is probably the best stuff in the entire game, even if a lot of the voice acting is kind of terrible. It all sounds like it was recorded in a voiceover booth and lacks all of the intensity that wrestlers and announcers typically convey when in front of a live crowd. There's also a career mode that lets you move up through a set of rankings to eventually challenge for belts, and you can, of course, configure a match using the full roster and a wide collection of match types to just play.

But the part of WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2010 where you pick up the controller and start wrestling is where the whole thing falls apart. The game's canned animations string together in awkward-looking ways that are sometimes hard to predict, and the action feels repetitive and unrefined. The game has one counter button that can be used to counter just about anything, if you can fit your button presses into a pretty tight timing window. And a lot of it is clunky, especially when more than two wrestlers are involved, as the game holds your focus on one opponent, even if you start running at another. So if you've knocked one guy down and turn your attention to another, standing opponent, most of the time you'll do elbow drops and other moves intended for a guy that's on the mat. The weird part is that they still hit the standing wrestler. You can fiddle with the game's settings to allow for manual focus controls, but forcing you to dictate your intentions like that doesn't feel much better.

  Most of the female models look fairly bad.  
Also, the action in the game feels very little like actual WWE in-ring wrestling. There are things you have to worry about that only come up on television when it's convenient, like rope breaks, where a pin gets broken up because the guy on the bottom has his foot under the ropes. In the game, you feel like you're constantly having to worry about the position of every wrestler, because it's far too easy to pull off your finisher in the wrong spot and not be able to follow it up with a pin. Tag matches also feel fundamentally different when they're treated like an actual sport, rather than scripted entertainment. Overall, the action is disappointing and the AI is pretty lackluster. So you're better off with human opposition... provided they're sitting right next to you. Yes, the game has online play, but the only time I was able to find a match that wasn't laggy to the point of pointlessness is when I took two copies of the game and ran them both on the same Internet connection. Considering how much of the gameplay is focused on properly timed button presses, this makes the game barely playable online. At least you can upload and download created items with other players.

WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2010 doesn't fix any of the fundamental issues that the series has had for years, and as this style of gameplay gets another year older, it looks that much more dated. The good news is that all of the stuff surrounding the actual gameplay is getting to be really good. I'd be perfectly fine with never wrestling another match... but I'll probably go back and create a couple of completely ridiculous stories using a bunch of created wrestlers. If that sounds appealing to you (or if you've already come to terms with the way the SmackDown! series plays), this year's game is worth checking out. Jeff Gerstmann on Google+
22 Comments
Posted by fishmicmuffin

I don't really have a desire to play wrestling games any more. This sort of solidified it.

Posted by buzz_killington

I thought this was a major improvement over the last few games...

Posted by MattBodega

I think there are going to be people who find this review totally crazy... in a bad way.
"How can you sit there are tell me that everything surrounding the game is better than the game itself?", they will cry out.
Maybe the solution is to post a video of Jim Ross being hit with a car..... on loop. That won't fix any complaints, but it would be pretty funny.

Posted by Chirag4

Ugh wrestling games

Posted by MildMolasses

I wanna know if Jeff got his Jim Ross accident story worked out. The only reason i want to play this game is to see some batshit insane user created stories
Posted by Death_Burnout
@MattBodega said:
" I think there are going to be people who find this review totally crazy... in a bad way. "How can you sit there are tell me that everything surrounding the game is better than the game itself?", they will cry out. Maybe the solution is to post a video of Jim Ross being hit with a car..... on loop. That won't fix any complaints, but it would be pretty funny. "
All i can say is, This is the very first Smackdown game i want nothing to do with. Yukes are clunking it up real bad.
 
It's just i dont want to buy and play last years game...this year.
Posted by artofwar420

If I still was into wrestling like when I was 12, I'd so be into this game. I remember playing the shit out of that one PS1 Smackdown game. I had my fun with wrestling games.
Posted by Tuggah

Katie Vick reference, win.

Posted by TheHBK

WWF No Marcy 2 please.

Posted by Kohe321

Not interested in wrestling at all, but well written review Jeff!

Edited by Undeadpool

"..having a wrestler break through a wall and immediately fall down..."

AL-RIGHT! THE SHOCKMASTER!!!....

Posted by Mechanized

This is probably the stalest video game genre next to sports games right now. That being said, I bought this and have enjoyed it a lot. Being able to download created dudes is freakin' awesome. The story creator can serve for a great way to spend time adding replay value to the game. The community aspects are great, however the gameplay itself is only slightly improved over past years.

Posted by Yummylee

Looks to be excellent fan service just too bad i grew bored of wrestlin before i even hit puberty. 
Findin out it was fake so young was as heart breaking as ''there is no SANTA!!' :'(
Posted by andrewf87462

I've just seen this at Asda for £25.00!

Posted by WinterSnowblind

I don't think you need to still be into wrestling to enjoy the games..  I grew up with Hulk Hogan, Ricky the Steamboat and Randy Savage, etc.  I don't even recognise 90% of the roster, but I still enjoy playing the game with friends, mainly for the customisation aspects.  The developers have finally learned that the customisation and creation elements are the biggest selling point of the games and have really put a big focus on it this year, which is good.
 
But like the review said, the game just has so many underlying problems, mostly to stemming from the ridiculously outdated engine.  If you're wondering, yes the game is still using the same engine from the very first Smackdown game back on the PSOne.  Hence why it looks awful.  Allegedly, they're bringing in a new one next year, but that's no excuse.
 
My biggest problem though is that while create-a-story mode is good for creating some amusing events, it doesn't come close to what GM mode added, which basically like a sports management game, that allowed you to completely create an entire season and run the shows.  It was multiplayer had a load of options and greatly expanded the replayability of the game..  create-a-story has no where near the same kind of options or fun factor as GM did, it boggles my mind why they replaced it, especially when the story creation elements could have easily been incorporated into GM mode..  And considering it was the biggest selling point for many sim fans,  it's a classic case of one step forward, two steps back.
 
I see it as the final nail in the coffin that the developers have no idea what the fans what, or how they should be making these games.

Posted by Afroman269
@Abyssfull said:
" Looks to be excellent fan service just too bad i grew bored of wrestlin before i even hit puberty. Findin out it was fake so young was as heart breaking as ''there is no SANTA!!' :'( "
There's no santa!? NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!
Posted by WilliamHenry
@MildMolasses said:
" I wanna know if Jeff got his Jim Ross accident story worked out. The only reason i want to play this game is to see some batshit insane user created stories "
Same here. I hope he uploads it soon, I'm dying to play it.
Posted by Octaslash

It's hard to play the game or even look at the animation after playing a game like UFC. I loved the addition of the story editor, but the most of the  in game stuff needs an overhaul.

Posted by kagekage
@Chirag4 said:
" Ugh wrestling games "
Ugh, wrestling.
Posted by Media_Master

Yeah, coulda guessed that.

Posted by Mokes

Katie Vick & Shockmaster references, this review is epic.

Posted by lspear76

I didn't realize anyone still played wrestling games or watched wrestling. Must only be rednecks. Pass.