Huge biceps and chests take center stage for another SmackDown vs. Raw title this year. 2010 offers more features than any previous title with increased options for creating content and sharing it over Xbox Live. I initially thought that with the create-a features SmackDown vs. Raw 2010 would be the last wrestling game one would need to buy this console generation but there is still some room for improvement. While SvR 2010 manages to get the submission hold locked in, a few technical problems keep it from being the holder of the world’s ultimate wrestling game.
I’ve already covered some of the new features in my preview article
but I’ll reiterate the key areas of improvement again here. The two most impressive new features are the simplified heads up display and the ability to share and download user created content. The HUD is now a simple ring around the controlled character that displays a blue bar indicating the level of momentum the player has built up. Gone are the mannequins floating at the top of the screen that show the status of damaged limbs. Instead the game relies on the character animations and new “realistic combat damage” in the form of welts, bruises, and blood to communicate to the player which limbs have taken damage. This simplified HUD system clears the screen of clutter and proves to be an intuitive way to keep track of the damage the wrestler has sustained.
The second, and sure to be fan favorite feature, is the ability to share any and all user created content online. Created superstars, divas, finishing moves, art, highlight reels, and the new create a scene can all be uploaded and shared with friends online. Each piece of content can be commented on and rated by the community with a handy search function to help players find specific content. At the time of this writing there were 50 or so Bill Goldberg created superstars online and most were very impressive in the amount of detail they incorporated. The only down side to the content sharing is that it takes a while for the content to load.
Have no fear! Loading throughout the rest of the game is as fast or faster as last years title. This is even more impressive considering the improvements made to the create a superstar mode, making your created character look and move more realistically than in any past iteration. That said, the overall presentation has not improved dramatically from 2009. The audience is still blocky and superstars and divas are just this side of the uncanny valley. Until the audience and characters feel more real and not like video game characters the WWE games will fail to reach the next level immersion. For a videogame the art style was a close to the real thing, but I suspect there will be great improvements down the road.
My own created superstar’s speed stats were pumped all the way up but he was still sluggish compared to most of the current superstars on the roster. The difference in speed didn’t matter as much in the single player modes but I suspect that during online multiplayer the existing superstars would have a slight advantage over the created superstars. Created superstars’ stats are increased based on performance during matches in either the road to Wrestlemania or career mode. Points earned for ending the match quickly, submission holds, use of foreign objects, etc. are used to pump up individual stats such as speed and grapple strength. When a stat reaches a milestone a new ability is unlocked for the created superstar or diva which can be applied in the same menu used to customize their move set. These abilities can be anything from stealing your opponent’s finishing move to a simple hammer throw which sends opponents flying across the ring. Choosing the right abilities for your created character is key to diversifying and expanded their abilities in the ring.
Menus are more easily navigated using the start button. At any time, except during a match, the main menu can be accessed. This proves handy for jumping to different parts of the game without having to sit through several load screens. From the main menu you can access all the various functions of SmackDown vs. Raw 2010 including all of the create-a modes. Easier access does not make the various functions easier to understand unfortunately. There is no help offered to explain various match types, particularly how they’re won, and I was disappointed by the lack of a preview function for the move set editor. It would have been nice to see what moves I had selected prior to trying them out in the ring. It didn’t help matters that moves often had several different versions. Even if I knew and understood each and ever wrestling move available, there is no way to tell how each version of a move is executed without trying it out during gameplay.
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