WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 Review

Lee Abrahams

As Ant and Dec once sang – lets get read to rumble! Of course that same song also included the dubious lyric “watch us wreck the mic – psyche” so it can't have been all good. I appear to be going off on a tangent here, but anyone that has watched the WWE over the last ten years will know the feeling, as insane plot twists, double crosses, burials, weddings and crazed bravado have become the norm for any kind of wrestling plot line. Hell, if a week goes by where someone does not run off with their arch rival's girlfriend, lose a match to unexpected interference and then get assaulted by a masked man in a parking lot with a steel chair, then WWE fans would feel short changed. Can that spontaneity finally transfer itself onto the console scene, hopefully so.

Developed once again by the undisputed kings of the genre, Yukes, this game pretty much has the entire WWE catalogue of matches, fighters and storylines sewn up for your amusement. So the real question has to be – does it improve on previous installments enough to really justify your money for yet another year?

Watch out ladies.

Right from the off the whole game has a very familiar feel to it, with the usual array of options at your disposal, both on and offline. A neat touch is the training arena that allows you to run through all of the basic and not so basic moves with the help of a friend or the handy (but fairly dumb) AI assistant. It is a good way to bring novices up to speed outside of a competitive match, though my only quibble would be the unresponsiveness of the AI when you try to pull off certain moves and counters. The rest of the setup is pretty much the same as ever, though the annoying trend of actively labeling new features "new" has cropped up, which just highlights how few and far between they are.

The regular options make a welcome return and you can choose from a wide variety of one off matches including triple threat, hell in a cell or the always fun Royal Rumble. Nothing new here. The real fun comes when you step into the new and improved "Road to Wrestlemania" mode; allowing you to control a selected wrestler in his or her quest up to the ultimate event. The storylines here are a lot of fun to work through and you can chop and change your alliances and alter the outcome to some extent. It gives you a real slice of what the WWE is all about with sudden twists and turns at every juncture. You can also build up your own wrestler from scratch and take him through his own story or even a full blown career should that take your fancy. Winning matches allows you to improve your skills until you have the ultimate fighter at your disposal. Neat but, again, nothing new.

The matches all have a suitable ebb and flow to them but, depending on your skill, you never feel as though you are under any undue pressure. The AI is competent enough, but aside from the latter stages of some of the Wrestlemania storylines, they never really feel like they are going to beat you. The controls are so easy to pick up that you soon be stringing together enough deadly combos so that you can build up a signature or finishing move and end the match in one fell swoop. There is no on screen HUD to speak of, as you will just see your wrestler's momentum meter around his feet and will have to rely on a visual representation of their health. Sadly being asked to repeat the same formula time after time soon loses its luster and it is only the fact that there are a wide variety of match types that keeps things from getting totally boring too soon.

A bit of girl on girl action.

On the plus side the game has such preposterous and over the top plots, great characters and decent voice work that it manages to charm its way into your good graces time and time again. Winning a tables match, leaping off a cage onto your opponent fifteen feet below or grappling your way through a Rumble, are all impressive highlights and encourage just one more go. You can also head online to grapple against people around the world should that take your fancy, though the options here do not seem as far reaching and an endless stream of one off matches will hardly keep your attention for long.

In reality the major changes have taken place outside of the ring. Most of the new features relate to your ability to create custom outfits, paint jobs, entrances and move sets for every single superstar. The biggest addition though is the create a story mode which, for the first time, allows you to build up your own rivalries yourself. You can make them as long or short as you see fit and use events and matches over a whole year's worth of shows until they climax with one last stand. Using events and promo slots in RAW, Smackdown and ECW to your advantage, you can tailor the plot as you see fit, though obviously you are restricted to a few key options every step of the way. While fun, the whole interface is far too fiddly and previewing your handiwork can take hours depending on what you put in there. A feature for hardcore fans only really as the rest of us will probably have too little patience to bother.

When man hugs go bad.

Rule one of any good achievement list these days seems to involve the absence of any online tasks, and WWE keeps that tradition going strong. It is nice to see that companies finally realize that just because the online is there, you do not have to attach a ridiculous amount of points to it. The list on the whole is fairly bog standard really and fails to include any of the fun tasks that have lit up the last few years. Most of your points will be acquired by running through all of the Road to Wrestlemania options and then doing a few one off matches to mop up. After that, all you'll need to do is tinker with all the new creation options, and you will be done. Nothing too taxing really, but at least you will not get bored as you are doing it. Solid but not great.

This is the definitive wrestling game, but that is easy to say considering the lack of competition. Realistically though, it is really just more of the same with only the Create a Storyline mode offering anything truly new and original. Die hard fans will want to pick it up for that reason alone, but for the rest of us this may well be rental material. It is a game that you can lose yourself in for a few hours, but if you have already played the predecessors, then even that may be pushing it. A polished up version but nothing more.

The audio, for me, is really starting to grate. The commentators use the same old lines, year in, year out. I know that is exactly what happens during the live shows too, but it makes you want to hit the mute button far too soon.

Smooth sailing here, with all of the wrestlers recreated fairly faithfully – though it is still odd to see muscle replacing flab on some of the ‘heftier’ guys. The lip syncing too is hardly inspiring in places.

Easy to pick up and play, although the giant list of moves may confuse people at first, especially considering the number of alternative signature moves and finishers there are. The reliance on dubious button bashing mini games for certain actions is also something that needs an overhaul.

For WWE fans this game has every available option and then some; it covers all the bases and really delivers. Unfortunately it does not really do enough to draw in casual or new fans as it is really just more of the same from the last few iterations.

A fairly straightforward list and one that encourages you to sample most, if not all, of the new features, which means you can just focus on having fun. Plus the absence of any online grinding is a bonus that we can all enjoy.

Another strong entry in the series, but one that does not bring enough fresh ideas to the table to truly make it stand out. Sure you can make your own story, but the controls and plots are fiddly to manage. For wrestling fans this is a sure fire purchase, but for the rest of us, it is a fun fighting game at best.

Game navigation