|System: Wii, PS2, X360, PS3, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Yuke's Media Creations||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: THQ||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Oct. 19, 2009||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Unfortunately, Wii owners will have to deal with a few unique frustrations, as some of the button mapping is less than ideal. In order to dodge, you'll have to press both the Z and C buttons while moving the analog stick on the Nunchuk. It's almost impossible to pull off with any level of consistency or comfort. Additionally, though we normally find Wii waggle to be an unwelcome addition to most games, it's a mechanic that would have been preferable to some of the jerky commands you'll have to execute with the analog stick.
If you're tenacious enough to tackle the game's story editor, there's an impressive toolset here for fans to create their own brand of wrestling silliness. Again, though, the interface for content creation isn't entirely user-friendly, and a fairly steep learning curve means the tools will likely end up being a meaningless novelty for most folks who purchase the game.
You can, of course, create your own Superstars or Divas using a variety of customization tools, but the real booty lies in your ability to tweak actual gameplay. A complex yet fairly powerful editor will allow you to create your very own finishers, and you can even tweak the myriad move-sets contained in SmackDown vs. Raw's arsenal of brutality. Creating custom entrances for your flamboyant wrestlers is another nice touch, and if you don't mind going slow with the game, you'll definitely get your money's worth out of this year's WWE package.
The presentation for SmackDown vs. Raw 2010 is rock solid, but don't look too closely behind the curtain. The models for the wrestlers look really good - lots of muscle definition and shiny skin - but the hair still looks stiff and jagged. Animations aren't life-like per se, but the overall Wrestlemania feel comes across really well. One of the more impressive elements of the game's visuals has to do with the individual character models for audiences. Rather than slap a mat of blinking lights designed to scarcely represent a crowd, there are hundreds of individual audience members that animate in concert to create the illusion of a live wrestling event. However, when the camera pans in close, the crowd members are a blurry mess of textures, and you'll see model duplicates herded together pulling off the exact same animations.
The audio is a bit of a mixed bag. The music is a fitting collection of gaudy heavy metal, though the sound effects don't bring a whole lot of impact to the experience. There's a good bit of voice work, and it, too, fits well within the context of these characters' misadventures. Announcers do a fine job of commentating on what the wrestlers are doing in real time, though it's all canned reactions. The main issue with the audio, though, is that certain components drop in and out at various times throughout events. This mainly occurs during entrances before a match, but it definitely takes something away from the over-the-top performances the game aims to pull off.
WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010 isn't a revolution for the series, but it is a hefty package comprised of solid parts. Issues with the lock-on system and collision detection are fundamental faults that, at this point in the series, should have been rectified pre-release. The game also does precious little to instruct players on the basics, and wrestling fans new to the franchise might throw up their arms in frustration. For those who can get beyond the game's shortcomings, however, there's some real value to be enjoyed here.
CCC Freelance Writer