Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 – Broken gameplay, multiple box arts, and The Undertaker
THQ and Yukes are looking to continue the tradition of ignoring the flaws of the Smackdown series, all while tacking on new features that further break the gameplay. In addition to that, THQ promises to provide the largest offering of creation and customization features ever seen in the series. Sharing content will also be simplified and improved on from last year’s game.
With a roster of over 70 WWE Superstars (including Divas) you’d think that this would be the best wrestling game ever made, especially after so many tries. Unfortunately, that most likely won’t be the case unless the gameplay engine receives a major overhaul. There is hope, however. The new physics engine is immediately noticeable and it’s a pretty big improvement. If you get slammed near the ropes there is no longer an unrealistic invisible barrier. The bottom rope will appropriately react if the wrestler’s leg is in the way. The same concept applies to weapons on the ground (like falling onto a ladder). It all looks quite nice.
One of the more practical features is being able to control where you do your moves. For instance, if you’re doing a suplex, you are no longer bound to where the animation leads you. If you want to do the suplex to the right, you can do just that during the animation of the move. And unlike the old Ultimate Control Moves that were introduced in 2007, the animation doesn’t look stiff and uncomfortable. It’s all fluid and seemless.
Strikes look largely unchanged and that’s just a shame. The grappling system has constantly been revised, so why not the strikes? The collision detection still seems off. If you’re a long time fan then you know exactly what to expect. That’s not to say that it’s an acceptable flaw. It’s not. There is no reason why a wrestler should look like he ran into a wall if there is no wall anywhere to be seen.
Another annoyance is still seeing wrestlers perform moves they don’t use. Especially during counter animations. Modifying each wrestler yourself can only go so far, but that’s an entire game in itself for some people. Let’s just hope that Yukes adds more moves than they remove this year.
One of the biggest concerns is the netcode. The series has never had a true online experience that didn’t have major issues. In the PS2 days online was ruined due to a massive input delay, abused gameplay glitches, and gameshark users. Even the current gen versions of Smackdown have glitches that can completely render your character useless. What’s worse is that the lag problem has never been truly fixed. That is just unacceptable.
As a long time fan of the series it’s difficult to stay impressed by new features that don’t make the games worthwhile. Will THQ and Yukes finally get it right this year? We’ll find out on October 26th.