History of WWF/E Games Part 38
WWE Smackdown vs RAW
Sony Playstation 2
Time to look at the first game in this long running series.
In 2001 when the WWF bought there competition WCW (World Championship Wrestling) and acquired many wrestlers from the defunct ECW (Extreme Championship Wrestling), they simply had far to many wrestlers on there roster for the amount of shows that they were running. It was decided in 2002 to split there TV shows RAW and Smackdown (the brand extension is what it was called) and have different exclusive wrestlers on each show. This enabled the WWE to run two shows on the same day in different parts of the country, or in some cases different parts of the world.
This was part of the basis for the whole Smackdown vs. RAW thing that was behind this game. While the brand extension had been in WWE games since 2002’s Smackdown: Shut Your Mouth, this was the first game to make an actual thing about it.
Presentation was given a huge kick in the butt and the games graphics were one of the most heavily advertised features of the game. The polygon count for the wrestlers was increased and they looked so much better than they ever had before on the Playstation 2. In addition to all the characters and arenas looking amazing, there was one other big improvement. Create a Wrestler was better than ever, and the wrestlers you could create looked more like actual in-game models than they ever had before.
Sound was another one of the games most advertised features, and for the first time ever there were wrestler voice overs. This was something that many fans (my self included) had been crying out for for years. And while on paper it sounded great, there were a few problems. First of all the voice overs only happened in season mode, and as they recorded a bunch of dialogue, that meant that season mode was far more linear than it had been in the last two Smackdown games. Also the wrestler voice overs left a lot to be desired. It sounded like they recorded them back stage at a WWE show in a hall way. Many of the wrestlers sound fed up and uninterested, and it is almost like they did one take and said that was enough.
One very cool presentational thing that Yukes did that never gets mentioned is how they tried to make the matches look more like they do on TV. In previous WWE games the camera would be facing the ring from a perspective that would also let you see the stage. Here they changed it so you viewed the ring from the same angle that you have when you are watching wrestling on TV.
Smackdown vs RAW also had a great rock soundtrack that I loved, but like any game that uses a real soundtrack, if you do not like the kind of music that they chose, then you will not like the soundtrack; it really is as simple as that.
Smackdown vs RAW added some really cool mini games to the actual matches. At the start of each match you would take part in one of three mini games. Test of Strength, Stare Down and Shoving Match. They were designed so that the winner would get the upper hand at the start of the match. There were also mini games now in the matches themselves. You could have a knife edge chop battle in a match with male wrestlers, or in a Diva match you would have a spanking mini game (and yes that is something actually in the game). While you may think these will interfere with the matches, I felt they made them much more exciting. You can turn the mini games that start a match off if you want, but in multi player these add even more excitement. The core game play was pretty much the same, but all the little tweaks that were made here and there really make it a great experience.
Royal Rumble was given a new ring out meter. Royal Rumble sees you needing to throw your opponents over the top rope to eliminate them. Here a new meter was introduced so you knew how close someone was to being able to be eliminated. There was also a new element to the game added that was called “Clean and Dirty” when you picked your wrestler you had to decide whether you were going to fight clean or dirty. Depending on what one you picked will alter your tactics slightly.
Another new feature that was added was the ability to create your own championship belt. This mode got a bad rap I felt. You needed money to unlock the belts you made which if I am honest was a stupid idea, but once you made a belt you could put it on the line against a friend and doing that made the belt really mean something. If you spent ages making a belt the last thing you would want to do is lose it to your friend.
Season mode as I mentioned was much more linear than it had been in previous years, but this was down to the wrestler voice overs. Although another downside was that as they did not recorded dialogue for every single wrestler in the game. The guy you picked never actually spoke. So while it was not a terrible season mode, it certainly was not as much fun to play through as the one in Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain Was. Do not get me wrong you still can make choices in the season mode that will alter the outcome of certain events, but for the most part it to me at least felt like season mode was just lacking something to really make you interested in the story.
One feature that was a fantastic idea although poorly executed was the “Challenge Mode”. This was a mode that would have you compete certain objectives in various matches or maybe recreate a classic match. Some of these were easy and some were hard as hell. I loved this idea, but there was one big problem. While there was a challenge mode screen you could not then start a match by clicking on a challenge. So while the list of challenges and a description of what you needed to do would be there, you would then need to come out of challenge mode and make the match in exhibition mode. Another new or returning feature I should also mention is “Pay-Per-View Mode”. This mode allows you not only to create your own pay-per-view events, but also lets you play through ones that were based on real life events.
This was the very first WWE game to allow for online play and it was the reason that yours truly got a network adapted for the Playstation 2. It was very basic and all you could do was have one on one matches or bra and panties matches. However at the time I thought it was the coolest thing ever that I was playing a WWE game online.
Smackdown vs RAW is a fantastic game. It had a hard act to follow with Smackdown: Here Comes The Pain and I personally feel that is why people were a little down on it when it was first released. I however love all the little mini games that they included and not to mention the create a belt mode that made multi player matches so much fun to play. Smackdown vs RAW is a great game and was a great start to a series that would run until Smackdown vs RAW 2011.
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