|System: X360, PS3, Wii, PS2, PSP, DS||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Yuke's Media||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. 20, 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|
by Amanda L. Kondolojy
August 25, 2009 - As a huge fan of wrestling, I generally have a lot to say about the storylines that the WWE concocts for its performers. Whether I am excited because my favorite wrestler is finally becoming a "good guy" or anxiously awaiting a reputable heel to return to the ways of darkness, I'm continuously surprised and delighted by the marvelous yarns spun by the WWE. Still, I think we've all had those moments involving yelling at the television when something we don't agree with happens to one of our favorite characters. Fortunately, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010 will help shake off some of those moments and help wrestling fans everywhere create their own storylines involving their favorite (and most hated) WWE talent.
What am I talking about here? Probably the biggest feature to hit the SmackDown vs. Raw franchise since it enabled online play: story creation. While the SvR series has always been lauded for having deep customization options, the defining feature of this year's iteration, WWE Story Designer, is certainly a game changer for the series.
The story creation basically lets you take on the role of Vince McMahon, and allows you to schedule matches between any of the game's 60 playable characters, add cutscenes, and even alter wrestler's stats before a match. So, if for instance you wanted a match between John Cena and The Undertaker and you wanted to ensure a Cena win, you could add a cutscene where a runaway car hits The Undertaker on his way to the ring, and then lower his stats before the match takes place.
And the story creation mode isn't just limited to a few scenes or matches. You can keep your story going for two calendar years. There are 100 cinematic scenes that you can choose from to punctuate it, and you can also add your own written dialogue to scenes that need it. And if you really want to tweak the look of your cutscene, there is a free-roaming camera that lets you zoom and shoot your cutscenes exactly the way you want.
The WWE Story Designer is a pretty amazing feature that will really let fans create and design their ideal story. However, stories were meant to be told, and as soon as you complete your story, you can upload it and then tag it with keywords so that other fans can find and download your story. This creation and sharing aspect almost looks like the WWE equivalent of LittleBigPlanet, and I am excited to see what crazy and amazing stories WWE fans around the world will create with the robust tools in the WWE Story Designer.
Although the story creation mode is certainly the most intriguing new element of WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010, there are some features that have been improved for longtime fans. Chief among these improved features is the Create-a-Superstar mode and the Create-a-Finisher mode. While these modes have been included in prior SvR titles, they have been greatly expanded for the 2010 iteration, and loading times have been completely obliterated for the new release. The Create-a-Finisher mode also has more chainable moves, allowing you to control the depth and positioning of aerial moves (which will in turn open up more chain possibilities).
Another area that has been greatly improved is the tutorial. Instead of having a linear tutorial mode that you have to enter through the main menu, the tutorial for SvR 2010 is actually the menu screen. Instead of selecting a mode, you can start moving around the tutorial ring, and the game will give you context-sensitive prompts based on what it "thinks" you are trying to do. Although SvR vets may balk at a new tutorial interface, this one is actually pretty cool, and you never know when you will need to brush up on your skills!
Last but not least, we have the new Road to Wrestlemania mode. This mode was introduced in last year's SvR title, and it was generally met with praise, as it contained plenty of over-the-top plot elements, just like the WWE. This year's Road to Wrestlemania mode looks to top its predecessor, however, with six all-new storylines, including the first-ever Divas story in an SvR game. The Road to Wrestlemania mode will also allow you to make decisions for your wrestler, and depending on your actions, you will be able to experience different endings.
All in all, this year's SmackDown vs. Raw looks like another solid entry in what has been a blockbuster series thus far. The creation elements alone put it head and shoulders above its predecessor, and the ability to download new user-created stories should give this title plenty of replay value. However, even if you are not the most creatively inclined, the new, expanded Road to Wrestlemania mode should pull you right back in to the SvR world. Wrestling fans can look forward to this title elbow-dropping this October!
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Staff Contributor