Posts Tagged ‘ WWE ’

WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2009 DS

This year’s iteration of Smackdown vs Raw for the DS is another example of a great idea pulled off incredibly badly. Last year’s DS entry into the series prompted stylus-only controls, making controlling your wrestler incredibly clumsy and difficult, and unfortunately, Yukes do not seem to have learned their lesson.

Smackdown Vs Raw 2009 has all the makings of pocket wrestling gold. A wealth of grapplers, an extensive season mode, gimmick matches like Ladder, TLC, Cage (finally!) and even a reasonably comprehensive create-a-wrestler mode, the staple of all decent Smackdown games to date. Couple that with a decent soundtrack and graphics that wouldn’t look out of place next to the N64’s excellent “No Mercy” and you should have the ideal portable WWE experience. Unfortunately, there is one phenomenally irritating element to the game that makes the entire content seem redundant in comparison.

Once again, Yukes have opted for a stylus based control scheme, which simply does not work in a wrestling game. Wanna kick your opponent? Tap the screen. Wanna grapple your opponent? Draw a circle on the screen. Draw a circle? What the hell is that about? Not only does it have absolutely nothing to do with grappling it is simply far too unresponsive to ever constitute actually being a “grapple”. Oh, and if you get knocked down, you have to rub the stylus over the screen to get your character up. Like you’re some sort of magic healer or something. Give me a break.

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Don’t get me wrong, I tried so very, very hard to get used to the controls. I’ve played my fair share of Wii games to know that the odd gem lies behind a control scheme that is difficult to get used to at first but this is just plain wrong. The grappling controls are too inconsistent, and most of the time, you will be drawing circles on the touch screen, only to find that your wrestler either does nothing, or the computer opponent moves out of the way just as you do it. The AI is massively unforgiving and there’s no way you can even turn the difficulty down. From the word go, you will be on the floor, giving your wrestler a good “rub”. Eew. Surely the fundamentals of a good Wrestling game would feature some actual wrestling?

Trying to place all my cynicism aside, I had a crack at the Season mode, which in all honesty, angered me even more. There’s a lot to see and do, but there are a wealth of inconsistencies which would probably frustrate any other WWE fan too. You begin by choosing your wrestler, and then you get the chance to move around a large map, each area giving you a new option. You have complete control over your superstar, and you can literally walk into WWE headquarters, go up an elevator, and walk into Vince McMahon’s office.  

I started my season as Shawn Michaels, the Heartbreak Kid, undoubtedly one of the biggest stars in WWE history. When walking into McMahon’s office, I was told that I’d have to do “big things” to make it in the WWE, I’d be up against some big names, and if I don’t make a name for myself then I’d be fired. Excuse me? I’m HBK, Mr Wrestlemania! Who the hell do you think you’re talking to?
The game has an incredibly basic script that expects that you will be using a create-a-wrestler, rather than a “real” superstar, and if you’re not…well, you apparently just have to put up with the fact that nothing makes sense, and that the Undertaker will introduce himself to you when you first meet him, even though you’ve had God knows how many matches with him over the years. The console versions of Smackdown always find a way to incorporate script that makes sense for seasoned veterans and newbies, even if it isn’t character specific. Why exactly couldn’t the same be done on the DS? It’s almost as if absolutely no thought has gone into it.

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I also tried my hand at the create-a-superstar mode, which really isn’t bad at all. Whilst you don’t get all of the options of the console versions (you can’t make tattoos etc), you still get a lot to play around with, and can have your character wearing practically anything (there is a bear snout and ears…for all you bear lovers out there). You are given a very generous level of stat points to give your created superstar too; using all of the base points that you are given, you can actually make your created wrestler better than some of the weaker “real” superstars from the word go. Jimmy Wang Yang anyone?

You get to edit all of their moves and their entrance as well, which would be incredibly nice if editing their moves made the slightest bit of difference at all. I was quite disappointed with the create an entrance though. For the first time, I was able to give my CAS Mr Kennedy’s intro. Curious as to how the microphone gimmick would be played out, I watched the entire thing. To my horror, my character reached up, grabbed the microphone, and opened his mouth as if to speak, in true Kennedy style…with no voice coming out whatsoever. Humiliatingly enough, my character was standing centre ring, nattering away, with no voice. Just another example of the lack of thought that Yukes have put into this game. Surely they would realise that no one wants an entrance where their character mouths absolutely nothing to a cardboard crowd?

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And that’s SVR 2009 in a nutshell really. A whole wealth of ideas that have had almost no thought put into them. With a complete overhaul of the control scheme, I could probably overlook the shortcomings of the season mode and give this game a nice fat 7 or 8 out of 10, because it has all the makings of a great wrestling game, like the classic smackdowns or the games from the N64, but the control scheme is so damn awful and so frustrating that it really is not worth putting yourself through. Really, why buy a game where the best feature is the fact that you can create a wrestler, when he is only going to get his butt handed to him the second you start a match because the controls don’t work and the AI is brutal? The answer is, you shouldn’t. And that’s the bottom line.

Hi-Score – Comprehensive create-a-wrestler, nice graphics, walking around in Season mode is kinda cool.

Lo-Scores – Controls stop this actually being a “game” and more like torture. Inconsistencies in season mode story.

Final Score – 4 out of 10

Legends Of Wrestlemania

(Reviewed on PS3)
On April 5th, this year, WWE’s Wrestlemania will hit it’s milestone 25th anniversary in Houston, Texas. Whether you’re a fan of this specific brand of entertainment today or not, most people will have been a fan of professional wrestling at some point. Ever since the conception of McMahon’s Wrestling empire fans around the world have clamoured to watch their favourite superstars defy gravity and health to entertain us.
Everyone has their favourites, from Hulk Hogan to Ultimate Warrior and many past and present fans have fond memories of the grandest matches.
Most of these matches were at wrestlemanias throughout the years and Legends of wrestlemania celebrates those matches.

In Legends of wrestlemania, THQ have used the smackdown engine to animate the greatest wrestlers, but this time they’ve taken out the more simulation style of gameplay and replaced it with a more arcade feel. Although this game is pitched at everyone rather than your run of the mill wrestling fan, the control system can be incredibly fiddly to pick up. In the smackdown series, movement was fluid and each manoeuvre was as simple as moving in the direction you wanted to go and pressed a button. However this time round, motions that should be simple are made intricate for no real reason.
An example of this is how you pick up a weapon or move onto a turnbuckle, both of these moves are acted out by double tapping the circle button. This is more of a chore than it should have been, surely a button could have been assigned to fulfil miscellaneous tasks such as the above, preferably without the double tap.

Anyone who has a penchant for sweaty men in spandex, much like myself, will be in their element when they first turn on this game. As the title came up on screen to the familiar sounds of old wrestlers entrance music a smile crept upon my face and my eyes lit up.
The first port of call is looking around the menu with glee of what’s in store and it’s the Wrestlemania tour mode that’s the main attraction here. Once you enter this mode you have the opportunity to “relive” “rewrite” or “redefine” the timeline of WWE’s history. In all of these modes you take control of a classic superstar in a career defining match. There are different matches in each part of the tour, so you won’t play the same match in “relive” and “rewrite”

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In relive mode you will literally have to recreate past matches, not move for move but you will have to act out certain “memorable” moments in each match.
At the beginning of each match you are given a set of objectives to complete in order to “pass” the match, each of these objectives are given a points value and you have to beat a points total to get the gold medal and move on to the next match. The objectives will range from ending the match with a finisher move to snapping on a figure four leglock around the corner post while there are no stairs attached to the ring.
Sounds complicated? It is.

Practically everything in legends is context sensitive and it makes the gameplay stop and start while you fumble with the controls in order to pull off the desired move. When you are given an objective, such as performing a move on a groggy opponent while they are in a corner. It comes down to trial and error more than anything else. Due to the clunky controls, it’s difficult to get your opponent in the corner let alone perform the specific move on them.
This problem with context situations is found in many parts of the game such as moving from the ring area to the entrance area. Moving from area to area requires you to press the X button at just the right moment in order for you to move, this can be tough when you are being punched and kicked.

The controls don’t stop troubling you there though, they also carry on through pinning situations. Having to mix your button inputs from tapping to holding the buttons in order to move a bar into the “kick out” section.
There are moments though where the controls move to the other end of the spectrum and really shine. There are many quicktime events that play out, particularly during finishing moves and timing your button presses results in the move being performed correctly and without reversal.

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There are two ways of keeping track of your objectives for each match, before the match starts you are given chance to watch a highlight reel of the lead up to the wrestlemania match and clips from the match itself. These movies are superbly edited by the WWE editors who are known for their expertise. It’s these clips which are your objectives and once the movie ends you are shown them on screen with tips on how to achieve them in the match.
Now, the reason I said two ways of keeping track is thus. The first way is to use grey matter, the spongy material between your ears and remember each objective and how to perform them. Or, you can pause the game and track them there, which, while a great way to remind yourself, severely disrupts the flow of the gameplay. There isn’t really a simple way around this other than to live with it, but it spoils the moments that are meant to be the most exciting.

There are many other exciting moments to revel in though. The character designs are superb and look great in Hi-Definition as do the crowds. The sound of the arenas and moves are great and the commentary delivered by Jerry “the king” Lawler and Jim Ross keep the authenticity as best as can be.
Each of the superstars moves are animated very accurately to their original performance and bring back a nostalgia of when we would look up to these superstars as heroes, Legends.

If you don’t want to relive or rewrite moments from history then you can become a legend killer.
In legend killer mode, you can create a wrestler, much like in the smackdown series and then use that wrestler to take on tiers of legends and dethrone them from their legendary status.
Playing through all the different modes will see you unlocking costumes and match types. This will mean you can dress each wrestler in the attire from different time periods in their careers and you can play through game types from tag matches to hell in a cell.
All of your progress can be checked in the Hall of fame menu system.

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With 42 wrestlers on the roster and the ability to transfer the entire roster from smackdown vs raw 09 from your game save of SvR09, you’ll have plenty of stars to play with and create dream matches like John Cena vs Hulk Hogan.
Obviously there are many multi player options included, so you can fight over who’s going to use who and then finish it in the squared circle.
The multi player mode is tight and is best played on the same console, which allows for elbows in the ribs when each person delivers great moves. Although there is online play here, I did experience small amounts of lag which as in any fighting based game can upset the gameplay.

Legends of wrestlemania is a great game for fans of wrestling from days of old, but any newer fans, particularly of the smackdown series may feel slightly let down by how the game plays.
All of the stand out moments are based on the classic feeling of grandeur that comes from WWE and performing moves that are renowned in the wrestling universe.
There’s plenty of fun to be had here especially once you’ve hurdled the control system and you’ll soon feel like a legend.

Hi-Score – Authentic, great game modes, longevity.
Lo-Score – Fiddly controls, often frustrating.

Final Score – 6 out of 10