For the last two years, the fans of WWE themed video games have eagerly anticipated the latest installment of the franchise, WWE ’13. Before we give our official review, let’s take some time to look back. Specifically, let’s take a look at a franchise that brings up mixed reactions in the minds of the WWE fan – WWE Smackdown vs. Raw. Though never thought of as a truly groundbreaking series, WWE Smackdown vs. Raw did have a lot of great features that revolutionized the way we played the games and are still seen in the WWE series today. Today, we’ll be highlighting the Top 5 features of the WWE Smackdown vs. Raw series.
5) Enhanced Tag Team A.I. and Animations. (Smackdown vs. Raw 2009)
In previous titles, tag team matches were crude representations of what was shown on television. As the series set to move from the arcade-type gameplay to a more realistic style, tag team wrestling hadn’t been refined quite as well as the singles matches. In Smackdown vs. Raw 2009, things changed. The tag team matches were improved greatly. Pins were no longer broken up by random moves, and were instead replaced with a new animation showing the actual breakup of a pin. Also added was the much improved A.I., allowing the A.I. controlled player to either break the pin or take out the partner of the opposing team to prevent the breakup. It set the tone in the series for the A.I., and challenged gamers more during matches.
4) Road to Wrestlemania (Smackdown vs. Raw 2009)
The Smackdown series was one of the first wrestling games that added storylines similar to those WWE television would present. In the Smackdown vs. Raw series, the storyline mode was carried over, but offered very little in the way of variety…enter Smackdown vs. Raw 2009. In this game, the “Road to Wrestlemania” mode would offer around six different storylines, each revolving around six different superstars. The story would start in January, and culminate in the biggest show in the WWE’s calendar, Wrestlemania. For the fans, it was finally a chance to step into the shoes, or rather boots, of some of the top superstars in the WWE for a full story that they get to play out.
3) General Manager Mode (Smackdown vs. Raw 2006)
There are very few things that fans love more than control. Starting in Smackdown vs. Raw 2006, fans controlled the entire fight card in “General Manager” Mode. As the series progressed, so too did this mode. Eventually, players had to recruit superstars through a draft, sign them to contracts, and build up their popularity. They also had to map out the events of a show, make money from that show, and try to grab the highest audience they could through their events. This eventually led the way to giving the fans a lot more control, as we’ll talk about later on.
2) Legends (Smackdown vs. Raw)
Very few things got fans as excited as playing as their favorite legends in the WWE games. In past editions of the series, the roster was full of main event, mid-card, and even low tiered superstars to give the game variety and depth for the fans. However, due to the real life firings of a handful of superstars every year, the games became outdated by their release date in the fall. Usually around the spring, even more cuts took place, leaving an even higher percentage of the roster in the game that was no longer with the company.
Enter the WWE Legends. In the first Smackdown vs. Raw game, fans can finally take past icons, such as Bret “The Hitman” Hart, Sgt. Slaughter, and “Rowdy” Roddy Piper, and put them up against current superstars of this generation. Though escaping the outdated roster was never without its faults, as time went on, the series had a better roster, due to adding more legends and less current stars on the low tier to mid-card side.
1) Creation Improvements
As explained earlier, fans love to have control. Few things gave fans such control as the amount of creation improvements given to the Smackdown vs. Raw franchise. Originally, fans had the opportunity to create their own superstars, which grew into creating their own championship belts, storylines, and arenas. The improvements also extended to existing superstars. Fans had the opportunity to customize alternate attires for superstars. Instead of the current, let’s say white, red, and green attire for Rey Mysterio, fans can give him an attire to reflect past Mysterio attires, or just make one of their own. Want to be silly? Why not take The Undertaker’s all black attire and make it into a pink one instead?
There you have it: 5 things the Smackdown vs. Raw series really nailed. While the series did its best to improve each year, some years just seemed unfulfilled; it was eventually scrapped for the WWE series. Some of these changes are still used in the current series played today. What about your thoughts though? Was there something that stood out in the series to you? Let us know in the comment section below, and stay tuned for our review of WWE ’13.