Many XBOX 360 gamer wrestling fans eagerly await the yearly release of WWE Smackdown! vs. Raw. Last year’s release was one of the best to date; everything seemed to fall in to place perfectly. THQ and Yuke’s have gone to great efforts to ensure that WWE Smackdown! vs. Raw is first choice for gamers in this genre. You really have to give THQ credit; they have to change this wrestling title every year in a very short period of time, and add new features and changes to satisfy fans. I actually questioned whether THQ could make enough improvements on last year’s excellent release. I can safely say their efforts have paid off with yet another impressive release – WWE 2011.
The formula from last year’s release hasn’t really changed, but has been built upon, which is a good thing – why change something so soon that works so well
The best new feature this year is the WWE Universe mode. This new mode has replaced career mode. The career mode was actually something that worked well in many previous titles. Its main faults were that it was a little basic at times and wasn’t as challenging as it could have been; for example, it didn’t matter who you decided to play as, the experience always felt the same and didn’t feel varied enough. However, WWE Universe works quite differently. This mode could be described as a career mode and exhibition mode all tied into one. You aren’t limited to just following a single wrestler’s career like before. You can now play the role of a GM allowing you to setup matches, assign belts and create your own storyline as a result of your actions.
Universe produces the content without you having to do a thing. The game adapts to how you play and the whole experience is totally customisable. As a result, what’s great is that you aren’t forced to play anything the game puts together; you have complete power. You can even rearrange the championship rankings and put your wrestler at the top. You have the option to play or sim each match.
As you would expect, Yuke’s have delivered a fine looking game. The graphics and animations are brilliant with each of the 70+ superstars looking more realistic than ever. Entrances to the ring are also well replicated. The whole experience is put together so well. The new physics system is also impressive, which makes braking objects such as tables and ladders look far better.
The Create-a-player mode has been improved and deepened. New creation options help to encourage the player to create and use their own original superstar in the Universe mode.
The Create-a-finisher mode now has more to offer than before; more combinations are available.
The controls are different. But I think they could have worked somewhat better. However, this is just opinion, many fans really like the new controls.
Road to Wrestle Mania is back; as before you get to choose one of five stories. This time around you can actually go and explore backstage where you will have to talk to people to advance your story, but most of your time will be spent starting conversations and fights, which help you gain ‘experience’. I actually like this mode, its good fun but the cut scenes get annoying quite quickly.
The multiplayer online experience is improved by the addition of the much wanted Royal Rumble mode – a yes, to all fans who wanted this mode included, THQ listened and here it is! You, along with 11 others, wrestle it out to see who really is king of the ring. You start off by selecting your favourite superstar, but once eliminated the computer will automatically select you a superstar until someone is crowned king.
WWE Smackdown! vs. Raw 2011 might feel similar in parts. However, the new Universe mode combined with the improved physics and graphics build upon last year’s brilliant release. This is yet another great instalment from THQ and fans are sure to be impressed. Prepare for many hours of action packed wrestling!