The THQ WWE games have been a steady source of entertainment for years upon years, especially this generation, where they have really taken the helm for the wrestling genre, towering over all others such as TNA Impact and Legends of Wrestling series. With the game industry booming, and the variety of games out there, are wrestling games growing old a little too quickly? Maybe wrestling has just come to an unfortunate end, or maybe the developers just can’t keep up with the games race, but whatever the problem, its shows in the latest instalment to the long-running series; WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2010.
Wrestling games are forever known for their somewhat stale combat and repetitive matches, and Smack down vs. Raw 2010 is no exception. Sure, every year you have access to more and more grapple moves and a few new strikes but the experience is essentialy the same, with only slight improvements making it a bit better than the previous year. For example, this years instalment gives players more streamlined combat and easier combo manipulation which in turn makes the matches look a little more fluid and realistic. But even with this upgrade, there isn’t much in the way of keeping it fresh from the same old – same old. As always, the characters animation is flat and uncoordinated, which we’ll get to in more detail a little later.
One player, two player, three player – floor!
Another given with the series is the sure-fire amount of different gameplay types, which although all come down to fighting one another, give a pretty decent vary of matches and gameplay options. There’s everything from the fan favourite cage match to the always difficult royal rumble, with up to 30 people in one match. With so many different match types, the game is a great multiplayer experience and a fun alternative to some of the other multiplayer games released this summer, which like usual, the majority are ‘the next big’ shooter, and can grow tiresome. The LIVE games can become very intense, especially the ones with more players, and in team-based matches you will have to work very well with your team mate/s to overcome the opposition for that one perfect body slam followed closely by the beautiful sound of the final bell ringing as you get the pin count on your opponent.
But like the unfortunate LIVE-less gamers out there, some people will be stuck with the games dull single player experience, unless they have a few mates who care to come around for a game or two. Even a hardcore wrestling fan will find the games few different career type modes quite lacking, in both content and quality. There are even some new modes which still don’t quite hit the mark for a remarkable or noteworthy experience.
Some look at these types of games as a ‘fighter’, while others take the more technical side of it and tag it as a ‘sport’ game, but the choice is your prerogative. Whatever you decide to label it, it still has its competition. Considering it a fighting game pits it next to the likes of the last years decent Mortal Kombat output and the more recent Tekken 6, which when put into a comparison of the three, leaves WWE a beaten and bloody corpse. And taking it as a sports game gives it the competition of the most recent Fight Night and also the extraordinary UFC game released earlier this year, which in a similar comparison as the fighting genre, shows just how much of a lacklustre effort WWE really is.
Perhaps the best and certainly the most impressive aspect of the game is its extreme amount of customisation. All previous games in the series have had a decent amount of character and entrance customisation, but this year, the level of customisation is taken to a new high. You can make everything from your character (which is now some of the best in-game customisation ever seen) to his or her entrance movie your own. Not to mention create and write them your very own career story which you can choose to upload to LIVE for all to take enjoyment in and even go as far as to use the games unique paint tool to make absolutely any kind of pattern/tattoo/logo you can think of, and with such detail and extremity. But even all these very enjoyable creation tools don’t allow you overlook the games flaws.
Every series of games with frequent releases such as this or the other great sporting series such as FIFA and Madden gets a graphical overhaul with each subsequent addition. And while Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 has had just that, it doesn’t seem to make much of a difference. The graphics may be an improvement – no matter how slight – on last years, but with the industry progressing quicker than ever, the games graphics just don’t cut it for today’s gamers.
As with the graphics, the animation hasn’t had much of an overhaul either. With a tad here and there improved – with the exception of the combat which seems to have gone through a complete and utter golden session on improvement goodness – it still shows an unacceptable amount of flavourless walking and moving animation with limited realistic movement, which only manages to escape the knowing eye with a swift assault of the characters enemy and into the games smooth combat.
One thing that has had a noticeable improvement though, is the games textures and modelling, which both look fantastic. The wrestlers themselves have never looked so realistic and life-like with extreme facial similarities and great skin tones and textures, which go hand in hand when trying to let players really immerse themselves in their favourite wrestler.
Every WWE game has a great soundtrack full of mood setting psych-up music like the common hard-rock and metal tracks, mixed in with a few mellow mood settlers here and there. Apart from the healthy list of modern rock tracks, the only other notable sounds in the game are the usual groans and grunts from the bulky competitors, which come tightly tucked under the territory of a wrestling game.
As a usual fan of wrestling games, I must say with all honesty that even though an improvement on all previous instalments and certainly the best wrestling game on this generation of consoles so far, this game still isn’t worth its price tag. As a wrestling game that doesn’t impress its very fans, it may only be worth getting when found during a rummage through the bargain bin, but that’s still stretching its credibility, and with the line-up of other titles being released this time of year, it’s an easy game to overlook.
WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 fails to keep up with the times with its questionable animation and sloppy controls. Combine that with dated gameplay and underworked career modes and you have a game that is only kept alive – if only by the tiniest bit of hope – by the wide array of gameplay matches that come in handy for some multiplayer fun and a deep customisation process that lets players take control of each and every aspect of their very own wrestling legend. Let's hope for better next year.
AAG SCORE: 5.5/10
- Very large amount of customization
- Wide array of match types and gameplay options
- Decent LIVE potential
- Dated gameplay
- Sloppy animation
- Dull single player experience
- Very little improvement from last instalment
- Little value for money
Reviewed and Written By John Elliott