WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2010 Preview (Xbox360)

Back in August, THQ invited the press out to visit downtown Los Angeles to attend WWE’s pay-per-view event, Summerslam, and take a close look at WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010. At the event I was able to play through a locked build of the game that showed portions of what to expect when the title releases for the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3. Now, a month and a half later, THQ has sent out the same build for us to spend more time with.

First, let’s discuss what is available in the build. There are a total of 11 fighters from the 60+ roster available including: John Cena, Johnny Morrison, Kofi Kingston, Maryse, Mickie James, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Triple H, The Undertaker, Chris Jericho, and Edge. Of those fighters, The Undertaker and John Cena are rated the highest with a 96 and 95 rating. The Rock and Stone Cold Steve Austin are also making their way via downloadable content for players who buy their copies at specialty stores.

Only five match types were unlocked to play through such as: Normal 1 vs. 1, First Blood, Falls Count Anywhere, Steel Cage and Tag Team. The rules of each match can be altered by turning on or off any of the following: entrances, K.O., give ups, rope breaks, disqualifications, ring out counts, ring out in general, interferences, escaping from the cage door, being thrown over the top rope from a battle royal and pins. Of the bunch, the standard 1 vs. 1 match proved to be the most interesting since it allowed for concentration on performing quality maneuvers in the ring.

They also allowed for customization to be tinkered with by allowing us to create our own superstars, superstar threads, and superstar finishing maneuvers. Players are eligible to recreate any wrestler from WWE history – provided that the attire is available – and share the content online with friends. Not only will players be able to upload their custom-created wrestlers, but highlight reels, finishing maneuvers and storylines from the WWE Story Creator are allowed to be uploaded online for strangers to download at a whim.

Speaking about the WWE Story Creator briefly, since it wasn’t available in the recent build, it will undoubtedly turn out to be the most important feature added in this year’s iteration. Players are able to plan out two year’s worth of storylines and set up PPV’s ahead of time as the head booker of the WWE. With full control of the camera during the scenes created, the WWE Story Creator is truly a feature that allows the longevity of WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 to skyrocket towards new lengths.

Another noticeable change in SvR 2010 is the reduction in loading times. Players shouldn’t expect more than four seconds of loading throughout the entire game – a surefire hit that should go over well with the fans who were impatient with the previous long load times. In addition, the HUD has been changed to support a minimalist approach that replicates the broadcasting of any of the WWE shows. New health bars underneath the wrestler’s feet replace the old bars that used to reside on the top of the screen.

A new tutorial mode is being implemented that is similar to the NBA Live series where players are able to wrestle without ever having to select a quick match option. The training center allows for veterans and newcomers to become accustomed with the new controls and game modes that are provided. Veterans should also be drawn to the tutorial mode to practice the finisher and signature maneuvers of their favorite wrestlers prior to jumping into a competitive match.

Visually, the title looks impressive with a new animation system of sorts being introduced that showcase wrestlers enduring pain. Chris Jericho will hunch over after repeated strikes to the back or might hold his chest after a few chops from the corner. If players are to repeatedly chop an opponent across the chest, they can expect their adversary to receive visible red marks across the pecks as they scream out in agony. The blood is also represented fairly after players inflict pain on their opponents throughout a match – it’s not overdone to the point of exaggeration and shouldn’t have parents banning the title from their households.

The last portion that stuck out was the music that was provided from the soundtrack. Artists that are featured in SvR 2010 include: Trivium, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Lions, Adelitas Way, Skillet, The Parlor Mob, Sick Puppies and, of course, official theme music for all the wrestlers included in the title. With the build being locked and not many superstars being featured, players can expect a host of other bands to be incorporated.

WWE Raw vs. Smackdown 2010 launches in North America on October 20 and Europe on October 23.

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