From the very first WWF Smackdown for the original Playstation © console, to WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 installment, I have played every single game in the series.  Being a big time wrestling fan since I was in the womb has made it very easy for me to fall in love with this exciting series, and many of you have felt the same way from year to year.  Sure, we are always left wanting more, wanting better – but isn’t that the point of a successful business?  Vince McMahon himself would teach us that lesson: leave the fans wanting more.  After playing 2010 and being introduced to the new Story Designer mode, I was left doing exactly that – wanting more.  That being said, I’ve decided to take a dive into the upcoming title, WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011, available for Playstation 2, Playstation 3, Nintendo Wii, PSP, and the Xbox 360.

Checking out everything that’s been announced so far can be a rather difficult procedure at times due to ongoing threads asking about the who’s and what’s about the game.  Being a yearly member of the IGN boards, I’ve found myself sometimes going 5-10 pages back just to find the new information.  So, with that being said, why not have all of the new information brought together in one good read?  I’m going to do my best to do just that.

First off, let’s talk about the game play itself.  WWE SVR2010 introduced us to the Havok physics engine but still left us quite limited.  Still, at the time we knew that 2011 had endless possibilities that could be set in motion with the use of Havok.  Those unsure of what Havok actually is can read all about it here. (http://www.havok.com/index.php?page=havok-physics)  As hoped for, this year’s game allows complete and total weapon and environment interaction.  For example, one video out there shows a Divas ladder match where one diva tips the ladder while two others are on it. For example, one of the divas that was on the ladder crashes to the ring while the other was a bit less fortunate and finds herself landing saddle-styled on the ropes.  Good thing it wasn’t a men’s ladder match, eh?  This is just one of the many possibilities that have opened up to us with the weapon/environment interactions.  Catch that RKO that Randy Orton delivered to Sheamus at the Hell in a Cell PPV?  Well, you can do that now.  The steps, chairs, tables – every weapon is completely interactive and allows for plenty of devastating moves to be performed.

Speaking of Hell in a Cell, players will be happy to see that it has been overhauled in-game and is now bigger and better than ever before.  The door has been removed from this giant structure, weapons are finally available under the ring, and finishing moves can be performed off of the top of the cell, such as Undertaker’s Last Ride or Shawn Michael’s Sweet Chin Music.  The weapons under the ring include steel chairs and a sledgehammer.  Hmm… something still missing?  The Hell in a Cell not extreme enough for you?  This next feature I’m going to discuss might fix that problem for you.

For the first time ever, Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 includes a CUSTOM MATCH feature, something long awaited by the fanbase.  Now, that Hell in a Cell match can be 2 out of 3 falls.  Not good enough?  How about a last man standing match in the Cell, first blood in a steel cage, or Iron Man in the Elimination Chamber?  With 3 different categories, fans can create their dream matches.  There will be some limitations which will be discussed over the next week from the designers of the game themselves, so we will leave that to them and anxiously await the videos detailing this feature.

That’s not all when it comes to customization in this game.  From day one, we’ve slowly watched the “Create a Superstar” feature develop into something extraordinary, with the inclusions of create-an-entrance, create-a-finisher, and create-a-titantron/entrance video.  Create a superstar has been improved, giving us several 3D options to choose from in designing our roster.  Not to mention we can now create finishers from the turnbuckle position, which gives us 3 create-a-finisher positions to toy around with.  We can also use the paint tool to design logos/tattoos for our created superstars as well as to place on signs or even to create our very own brand logo.  Finally, we can once again download community creations, but we can now edit them to our liking and set the attributes for created superstars and downloaded content right from the get-go.  That’s right, no more building it up through tons and tons of matches and obstacles.  The loops no longer need to be jumped through.  Cheers for that one!

As if all of the customization and game play adjustments aren’t enough, the biggest and most exciting feature placed in Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 is the new WWE Universe mode.  In Universe, the game tracks everything you do, ranking your superstars and building rivalries and teams right before your eyes.  This mode ties into the normal exhibition play and reportedly has over 100 different cutscenes that take place.  One week you are turning on your tag partner, the next week he is attacking you during your entrance or interfering in your matchup.

For those of you who are online players, you’ll be happy to know that 6 man matches are now available for online, as well as a 12 player Royal Rumble!  Speaking of the Royal Rumble, there are now new methods of eliminating opponents from the corner and other locations, so be ready for this already great matchup to get even better.  Also, when searching for downloaded content, you can now search by which content has been downloaded the most, not just by ranking.  This will help in finding the best content out there for you.

Finally, the features that we’ve already grown used to such as Road to WrestleMania return but have also been updated and upgraded.  Road to WrestleMania now allows players to free-roam through the arena between matches, giving the players tasks to complete and a little bit more freedom than before.  As for Story Designer, it’s gotten more scenes and actions available such as splitting storylines.  If you want John Cena to be fired if he loses a match or promoted to GM if he wins it, you can do that.  To top it off, the mode is no longer a single-player mode.

The game has a lot going for it and I personally cannot wait to get my hands on it October 26th.  THQ’s staff have answered questions on the forums as well as on Twitter, which has really helped us fans feel included and involved.  I will be posting an after-release review of the game as well so be sure to watch for that!

One last thing – stay up to date on WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 at http://www.smackdownvsraw.com


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