|System: PS2, X360, PS3, Wii, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Yuke's Media Creations||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 19, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Tony Capri
THQ brings their latest installment of WWE Smackdown vs. Raw to Wii and PS2, and all the biggest personalities in wrestling are along for the ride. How does this year's trip to the arena stack up?
Building upon the micro-soap-opera theatrics the sport is well known for, SmackDown vs. Raw 2010 comes to consoles with plenty of ridiculous antics. Superstars and Divas dive face first into the fray to treat fans to a hair-pulling, ladder-bashing good time.
Upon flipping the switch on WWE, players will be presented with a hefty selection of options. At the top of the list is a quick-play mode that will allow you and/or a few friends to jump into the ring and do single matches. It's sure to be one of the most valuable elements of the entire package, since there's nothing quite like the pleasure of whipping up on friends.
Before we get into the nuts and bolts of gameplay, let me just say that there's definitely fun to be had with this package. However, newcomers may hit a brick wall in terms of the learning curve. The "Tutorial" amounts to little more than a list of commands, which can be viewed when entering the menu during play. None of the context is covered, though, and since many moves can only be used when certain conditions are met, newbie players will likely waste a lot of time simply trying to figure out how to win matches.
In addition to quick play, there are two single-player modes, as well. Road to Wrestlemania is the main story mode in which players compete in a variety of match types against other Superstars or Divas. In spite of the lack of instruction, Road to Wrestlemania is probably the best place for new players to get their feet wet.
Career mode progresses in a similar fashion, though there's a bit of a focus on building up a specific wrestler. You'll pick a character, compete against a line-up of Superstars or Divas, and then head back to your private jet to check stats and ready yourself for the next show. In terms of story, neither single-player mode offers much depth, but matches can border on epic.
However, this is, by no means, a shallow game. The library of moves is incredible, and even vets of the series will have a lot to learn. The controls are very responsive, though there are issues with both the lock-on feature and collision detection. During matches, occasionally our wrestlers would auto-lock onto an audience member, making it almost impossible to execute attacks against our current opponent. There is an option to set the lock-on feature to manual and toggle who you're locked onto, but it's still a clumsy mechanic in the heat of battle.
Collision detection is definitely the biggest issue, however, when it comes to actual gameplay. It's far too easy to miss an opponent when pulling off a flying move, and when attempting to climb atop a corner of the ring, oftentimes your character will try to bounce off the ropes instead. In spite of these issues, there's still a lot of fun to be had here, even if you're not a card-carrying member of the sport. The unexpected often happens during matches, and brawls are usually comically brutal.
If you're tenacious enough to tackle the game's story editor, there's an impressive toolset here for fans to create their own brand of wrestling silliness. Again, though, the interface for content creation isn't entirely user-friendly, and a fairly steep learning curve means the tools will likely end up being a meaningless novelty for most folks who purchase the game.