THQ has had it its way for a long time. Whereas most genres have games vying for title of best of their kind year on year, wrestling has been a one horse race for some time. Sure, we've had TNA Impact!
, but that was awful.
So, despite no real competition THQ has gone and released the annual update to Smackdown Vs. Raw
with this year’s focus being customisation. In the past we’ve been able to create a wrestler but now we can design our own logos or tattoos using a rudimentary paint box tool; the 'Create a Finisher' has been beefed up slightly, allowing us to create high-flying top rope moves, but where customisation has gone crazy is the option to create your own story.
The detail into which the ‘Create a Story’ mode allows you to go into is insane. You want to have Randy Orton question Chris Jerico’ s sexuality in the locker room? You can. In fact, you can alter the character's emotions, the camera angle, crowd reactions and more, including entering your own dialogue. While this is a pain using the control pad, plug a USB keyboard in and you can pen a story worthy of the WWE. Unfortunately doing so is rather time consuming and probably won’t be used to its fullest. The same applies to creating your own highlights reel.
If you can’t be bothered to write your own piece of WWE magic, there is the Career mode, and the return of Road to Wrestlemania with full, spoken dialogue. You can also access the online store, which allows you to download other people’s shows, wrestlers and move-sets, with a handy star rating help you separate the best from the rest.
Graphically there haven't been any major improvements to last year's SvsR
, with the biggest overhaul being the removal of the HUD. Helping to achieve an authentic broadcast experience, wrestler’s names and momentum meters have been removed and instead are shown around their feet. Likewise, the indicator that signals when a wrestler has damaged a limb has been replaced by hints such as the character grabbing their arm.
One area that seems to have received little attention, once again, is the sound. The commentary is so poor it’s tempting to turn it off, but then matches sound more like a practice than a main event. Certain phrases are repeated too often and are either too generic to relate to the action or are just plain wrong.
The best wrestling game ever is the coin-op classic WWF Wrestle Fest, thanks mostly to its excellent Royal Rumble mode. The Royal Rumble match type in SvsR:2010
has been tweaked slightly, with this year’s incarnation giving you different ways to eliminate the opposition, including reaction mini-games mixed with some button mashing. It could be that my rapid button mashing skills are honed to perfection thanks to retro titles like Track and Field
, but I found the Royal Rumble far too easy, even on the hardest skill level. On my first attempt I won the rumble despite being the first entrant and playing as young pretender Ted Dibiase Jr. 100 points added to my gamerscore, thank you very much.
Difficulty is SvsR2010’s
biggest weakness. The AI seems completely unprepared for short, running attacks allowing for some easy, if uninspiring, wins. Boosting the setting to 'Legendary' makes it a bit harder but your opponent just seems to get better at countering.
It's obvious that a lot of effort has been put in to SVR:2010 to pack it out with more options, match types and customisation options than you will ever need, but unless you intend to spend a considerable amount of time on the game you won't even begin to scratch the surface. That said, there is plenty here for the novice player, it's just a shame the difficulty prevents matches from feeling like much of a challenge.
SPOnG Score: 75%