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Smackdown vs. Raw 2010

 

Smackdown vs. Raw 2010

Platform: Xbox 360
Category: Sports
 
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It’s your world now! This is a saying that rang loud and proud during a preview event for the new Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 (noted through this preview as SvR 2010). About a week or so ago I was invited for a weekend of wrestling. THQ wanted to strut its latest WWE game and what a better weekend to do so then that when WWE’s annual SummerSlam event that was taking place at L.A.’s famed Staples Center.

THQ has been making a lot of wrestling games and SvR 2010 is the 11th title in the long running WWE franchise of videogames. I was somewhat shocked to find out that they have sold more then 46 million WWE games worldwide and that they are the number one fighting game in North America. This year’s entry has THQ once again working with Yukes. SvR 2010 will be released on the Xbox 360, PS2, PS3, PSP, Wii, DS and wireless devices. There is no doubt that WWE fans of all types will have a chance to experience SvR 2010 in one form or another.

On the Saturday that I arrived, I got a chance to sit in on a live presentation of the new features of SvR 2010. I must say that seeing some of the new features was quite amazing given the focus of this year’s entry.

One of the first things demonstrated was the “Training Facility” which is a brand new addition this year. This is an interactive tutorial that also doubles as the new SvR menu. Here you can not only train, but access any area of the game. The actual tutorial is context sensitive where you follow a series of tips that pop up that explain how to use your new move set. Once you have completed a specific move the tip will not pop up again. Users can customize the training options such as turning tips on or off, setting the AI difficulty or momentum level (e.g. fighting at the start of a match or at a point where finishing moves are available) and even which superstar you can use. THQ notes that a anyone new to the SvR series of games can enter into the “Training Facility” and easily learn or practice the move sets found in the game while also allowing veterans of WWE games to refresh their own skills or learn moves that they were unaware even existed. This is the first time they the tutorial has been done this way and it is believed that it can help target new fans of the game.

During the presentation it was noted that the four “C’s” are the focus for SvR 2010. These stand for New Creation, New Customization, New Content and New Community. Create Superstar mode is back for 2010 but it has been greatly overhauled this time around and the improvements are quite noticeable. The interface for making your own wrestler has been overhauled as there are pretty much no loading times and everything felt instantaneous when choosing specific areas of your character to customize. THQ and Yukes wanted to decrease the time it took to make your own character and it seems that the improvements to the interface have achieved this goal.

THQ and Yukes have also added new 3D parts for creating your customized look so there are no longer any items that seem ‘attached’ to the body as everything is free flowing and individual. So necklaces, armbands, and even ties, move around on one’s body instead of looking like they are glued on. There are over 1000 parts for users to choose from when creating their customized characters. The quality of user’s customized characters has also been improved so that they seem on par with the already created WWE Superstars found in the game. THQ noted how in games of past when people used their created wrestlers you could see a visual difference between the WWE wrestlers and the created character, but this year this is not the case. There are increased polygon counts in the created characters and it shows.

After going through the improvements to the Create Superstar mode, a new feature was introduced: the Paint Tool Option. This is used to create your own logo for shirts, costumes, and even tattoos. Fans requested more accessibility to design logos and tattoos and the Paint Tool Option was a response to their request as it allows more flexibility to design your own original logo and tattoos. Here you will find your typical paint tool options such as pens, erasers, fill paint can, etc., which will allow you to be as creative as you can be. You can save any of your creations and add them to any created character be it on their clothes or on their virtual bodies. The demo they showed us during the event utilized a previously created logo and it was quite simple how you could apply and use it in many different fashions. This is really geared for the hardcore fan giving them the opportunity to get as crazy as they can with their ideas.

Furthering the improvements in customization area was the “Superstar Threads” mode. This was a small, but yet very interesting feature that allows users to customize outfits that WWE Superstars in the game’s roster wear. This is the first time in the franchise’s history that this type of feature has been implemented. Individual parts of an existing superstar’s outfit can be changed. During the demo they showed examples of Ray Mysterio’s outfit being recolored as well as taking the Undertaker’s outfit and making it very purple or pink, which just looked wrong in so many ways. Again, this is geared towards the hardcore fan and specifically those who may dream of changing a WWE Superstars outfit to what they believe it should look like.

One of the biggest additions to SvR 2010 is the WWE Story Designer. It was described to us as an enhanced GM mode, but I think it is best described as the “Director’s Chair” mode. Here you are in control of making the stories that you watch. A calendar allows you to create a story that can be one day to two years long incorporating all the WWE shows, from Raw, Smackdown, and ECW. During the time period you choose you will be in charge of creating the match and cut scene(s) that will take place. In a match you dictate the obvious things from who competes to what type of match it is. You also control the minute details such as the damage/health of a character (e.g. took a beating backstage and now must wrestle in a match following the surprise beating), win conditions (e.g. must get opponent to submit), the opponent AI, and other wrestler interference during a match (e.g. as an ally or enemy). As for the cut scenes you will use an on the fly interface to make up the events of a cut scene. Here you are in control of the actual animations during the scene, the location it takes place in (20-30 locations in game), casting of characters, length of the scene, text, and even the emotions of the superstars (e.g. smiling, angry, sad). The trailer they showed at the preview of the types of things that can be done using the Story Designer was pretty impressive as it demonstrated how you could change so many different things to make so many different stories. Pretty impressive stuff indeed.

As I mentioned in the beginning of this preview, THQ noted the four “C’s” that were part of SvR 2010’s mindset, and one of them was community. The final detail that was discussed at the preview event was how one could share content online. This is truly where the community aspect is prevalent. Here you can put all types of content online allowing users to download and experience what you made. The “Community Creations” Option allows all types of user created content to be uploaded or downloaded with ease. Everything from user created moves, finishers, movies, characters and stories can be uploaded, and then downloaded by others. The interface was quite simple and allowed you to put in key words for content you wished to upload, or for the content you wished to find. Such descriptors as legend, create a finisher, create a story, or highest rated can be used to find the content you are looking for with ease. Once you find what you are looking for, and you download it, you can rate the content this rating is uploaded to the server. An interesting point is that you can use the content you download in both offline and online matches. THQ noted that they believe they are “trailblazing” in the area of community approach and the ability for SvR fans to upload and download user created content. They also believe this approach will expand the longevity of the game as the user created options add many different angles to what the game presents, and in many ways I would have to agree.

Upon wrapping up the first part of the preview event, we were given a short break to head back to our hotel rooms to freshen up and then head upstairs for a chance to get some ‘hands on’ time with SvR 2010 as well meet some of the WWE Superstars who were in town for SummerSlam 2009. I had the chance to play the PS3 version with a fellow journalist as well as watch some other journalists in attendance take some time with some of the aforementioned features written about above.

The time I had playing the game really did impress me. What I noted the most was how smooth the game seemed to move at this state, and how the collision detection was spot on. When wrestlers grabbed onto each other, or they did a grappling move, they looked as if they were actually were wrestling. There was no invisible force field between the two and they actually looked like they were touching, and not doing some strange dance with a space in between them. There were only a small number of wrestlers opened up for us to play, including a few of the WWE Divas, and overall I was quite impressed with all the likenesses. I am not the biggest WWE follower out there, but I was able to recognize a few of those that were open for play and they looked pretty darn good. In terms of control, the game was quite responsive and I noted how one could get away with using a few moves, but the true WWE fan had a bevy of moves and reversals available allowing the game to give some depth to their gameplay experience. On the flipside, I have never been a big fan of the PS3 controller though and I just didn’t like playing the game on it due to my controller bias.

After playing the PS3 version I took some time to walk around and see what others were doing with the game. I was quite amazed at what I saw. One journalist made a cage match with two characters who resembled spider-man and she-hulk. It was very strange and entertaining at the same time and really showed the creativity one could utilize with the available tools. Another journalist actually made a character that looked like someone he was attending the preview event with. He had the same style shirt, pants and tie on, and he even got the hair style looking pretty close. It was funny to see the guy who he modelled the character after react to his own WWE likeness being put on the screen only to get pummelled in the ring. I should add that while all these people were making characters there was not a lot of load time when switching to the various sections and parts for ones perusal and eventual addition. To be able to change outfits, features, and clothes so quickly was nice to see. While walking around it was clear that a lot of journalists in attendance were having a lot of fun with the new and improved Create Superstar mode. To have so many people trying new things in the Create mode shows that the changes were definitely for the good.

Although we only had a chance to experience the Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of SvR 2010, THQ did briefly touch on some key features on the Nintendo Wii and DS versions of the game. They noted that the Wii version is taking steps toward being a true wrestling simulation, including the control, bringing it more on par with the bigger and more power PS3/Xbix 360 versions. The Wii version supports the Classic Controller, GameCube Controller and Wii Controller, so there are three different control set-ups to choose from. Finally, the Wii version has 40% increased match types, create a finisher, and the road to wrestlemania story designer, all of these add to the increased feature set. As for the portable DS version, it was noted that it incorporates a new play style using the d-pad and face buttons, as opposed to last years stylus control, and this improves the control and responsivity of the gameplay. The DS version also has a new collectible card system where you collect cards that are power up bonuses in season mode and you can use these power ups in matches as well as trade them wirelessly with friends. Finally, the DS version has a deeper story mode then ever before, backstage brawls, as well as the introduction of the “Ambulance Match”.

I have to say that I really enjoyed my wrestling weekend. Being given a chance to play Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 prior to its release date really opened my eyes to what THQ, Yukes, and the WWE are doing to pay homage to the hardcore fans while still allowing the casual user to enjoy the game. Add to this the chance to meet some of the WWE Superstars during the hands on we had with the game and being able attend SummerSlam 2009 on the Sunday following the preview event, everything made for a pretty good weekend. As I flew home I pretty much came to the conclusion that the future is looking pretty bright for Smackdown vs. Raw 2010. Once the October 20th release date hits we’ll have our in depth reviews of the game up on our site on or around that time. Until then, rest assured it looks like the game is still in good hands at THQ.

Cheers,

Kirby Y









 
 

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