So earlier this week I was lucky enough to be invited to a special preview event for THQ’s SmackDown vs Raw 2011 and now I get to let you guys know all about it. Before I start though I want to give a special thanks to Aaron Kaufmann and Marcus Stephenson from THQ for not only setting up one amazing event but being generous enough to invite myself from Platform Nation to cover it. I also want to thank all the other gaming communities that were there because without all of them the whole experience wouldn’t have been what it was.
Now to the event, so the first thing that we were all able to experience was…oh ya, sorry guys and gals, I can’t tell you yet, we were shown a very special game that I’ll be waiting till later on to let you know, lets just say though that it was a lot of fun. Well after being able to get our hands on a game we unfortunately can’t talk about yet we gathered up as a group and headed off to the Staples Center for one of the more fascinating spectacles in all of entertaining, a WWE pay per view event. Now I’ve never been to a WWE event in my life, I have been to a couple UFC live events but never a wrestling event so I had no real idea what to expect and I was blown away by what is the WWE and SummerSlam.
Back in the day I was a huge WWF fan, yes I said WWF, that’s what I grew up to and that era of wrestling is what I know most. My brother and I would stay up every Monday and watch Monday Night Raw as it took place in the Grand Ballroom at Manhattan Center Studios and then later on moved on to bigger and better things. We not only would know all the wrestlers, but we knew their moves, their attitudes, their finishers and we would pretend to be them and hold our own events for our own championship belts (our belts were not nearly as awesome as the real belts). I remember how the Hulk would just electrify the thousands of fans in attendance and the millions of fans watching around the world! I remember how Stone Cold Steve Austin broke into the scene in the WWF and made his own rules with his smashing of his beer cans and giving his patented Stone Cold Stunner to anyone that got into his way, including the owner of the WWF, Vince McMahon. But then something happened, I just got older and outgrew the WWF, I quit watching it and moved away from what was once the best thing in the world for me when I was younger.
Well things change and when I first heard of this event I thought to myself, “Oh crap, I don’t event know who is still around!” So I started watching the WWE again so I know what would be going on, so I wasn’t in the dark with not only the wrestlers but the story line and after getting all caught up I was once again hook, I couldn’t wait for SummerSlam to kick off. I wanted to see Randy Orton kick some Shamus ass, I couldn’t wait for the WWE team to destroy the evil foundation of the Nexus and the WWE did not let me down. For being my first wrestling event I was amazed by the charisma of the fighters, by the outrageous pyrotechnics and by just how immersed the fans were, especially all the younger ones as it reminded me of myself when I was younger. The event was a huge success in my eyes with all that happened and after this I couldn’t wait to get my hands on SvR 2011 to see how it compared to the real thing.
Before we were able to get our hands on the game we watched some small videos about the game, about the improvements in the game and what we could look forward to with this years edition. We had a small Q and A session with a couple of the designers and the community managers for SvR2011 and we able to get some of our input in while at the same time we were explained some of the reasons behind what was done and why. After that was done it was time for some hands on, something all of us had been looking forward to all day.
We were given the ability to select, I believe, 10 of the wrestlers in the build of the game that we were playing, there were 3 different match types for us to pick, and we were able to dive into the character creation tools.
Just a heads up to you guys and gals out there, I haven’t played a wrestling game in a few years so my experience might be a little different from some of you hardcore types, I do not have the ability to compare to past games. The first thing I noticed was how sharp everything looked, the rings, the wrestlers and most importantly for me, the animations and transitions. This wasn’t the wrestling game I played in the past where everything was clunky and it was always the same moves, this was like a true next generation of wrestling for me. The fight sequences were smooth, the hit detection seemed to work great and I wasn’t seeing clipping (where two objects kind of mesh or intersect through each other) issues like I always had in the past. I was busting people through tables, throwing them off ladders, hitting them with chairs, even throwing them through the Hell in the Cell, it was awesome.
The grappling system was pretty simple to use for a newbie such as myself but at the same time, very rewarding if you dove into it more and if you learn some of the more advanced techniques. One of the most enjoyable things was the signature and finishing moves and by how simple it was to pull them off. No more trying to memorize certain button combos or having to win some type of minigame, when you earn it, all you have to do is hit the Y (on the Xbox 360) button while in the position where your selected wrestler would normally pull his moves off. If you do that you will be rewarded with a pretty cool animation where everything but the two wrestlers gets slightly blacked out and the game focuses on what’s most important at that moment, your signature move.
I was also able to do more then my fair share of striking in SvR 2011, especially at first when I didn’t really know how to use the grappling to my advantage. Striking is simple, just hit a button and you do it. You can combine it with different combos to do different things as well as different situations, i.e. running, against the turn buckle, your opponent on the mat, etc. While striking might be some of the easiest to do, for the most part it’s not the best thing. With a quick press of the right trigger at the right time almost any strike (and grapple) can be countered. Strikes seemed to be the easiest move in SvR to be countered and for the most part they do the least amount of damage (who you are fighting as though can really change that situation). Overall all though I did feel the whole fighting system was pretty balanced and almost any wrestler could beat any other wrestler if you used him probably (if you use your selected wrestler and play with him in his actually fighting style).
We were shown three different types of matches in the game, the previously mentioned Hell in the Cell, TLC and the Money in the Bank match. All of them was pretty fun but the most entertaining for me was the Hell in the Cell match just because off all the different things you can do in it. One of the changes this year was the improvement of the Hell in the Cell match, THQ made the cell bigger so now you actually have space to roam outside the ring, more like the real thing. They added weapons to that mode and they put in several different cutscene animations that can involve the cell. Beside the biggest cutscene that’s been replicated since Undertaker threw Mankind through the cell from the top of it, there are also special signature moves where you can bust your opponent through the side of the cage, and trust me, almost nothing feels as rewarding as that. No matter how many times I picked up my opponent and drove him through the cage it never got old for me!
After we played the game for several hours THQ decide to hold a Hell in the Cell tournament where the winner would walk out with an authentic WWE Championship belt, this wasn’t a cheap knock off either, this was the real thing. As for my part, I never actually lost the match (it was a 6 person Hell in the Cell match type of tournament), I didn’t win either. Huge congratulations goes out to Rodolfo Colon from SFX-360.com for kicking some serious ass and really mastering the game. Once that was over we had another Q and A session where we were asked what we thought of the game and what improvements we could see for it down the road, and don’t worry guys, if you left your thoughts on our previous post about this I did my part to make sure your thoughts were heard.
At this point we have seen one title that we couldn’t talk about, attended WWE SummerSlam, played the new SvR 2011, held a tournament, had an excellent Q and A where some of our ideas could be in future versions of SmackDown vs Raw (I have my fingers crossed on a few of mine). So what’s next? After we have already done all this what is left? How about not one but two showings of Monday Night Raw! The WWE was doing a double taping of the show and we were able to get into the event with some great seats and watched some more live ass kicking to cap off this event, now how sweet is that?
Steve’s Final Say: After being away from the wrestling genre for a few years this was a great comeback for me. The game is going to be a must have for any wrestling fans and a lot of fun for anyone new to the franchise. I only wish I was able to get to try some of the career features that were shown to us because they looked pretty nice and could really suck me into the game.
Just a heads up for the people reading this, Platform Nation’s coverage of the game will continue, we have an interview setup with THQ where we will be diving more into the game as well as answering any and all of the questions that were submitted to us. If you happen to want to know more and we didn’t happen to cover it, please feel free to ask away, I’ll be happy to answer or do the best I can to find out the answer for you. Hope you all enjoyed this write up, if you did, do me a favor, leave me some feedback in the comment section, let me know what you thought. Feel free to click the Facebook like button at the top of the page or the Twitter button towards the bottom if you liked this, that really helps spread the work and helps us get into more events like this in the future, thanks everyone.