Starting with Smackdown vs. Raw 2006 there was a shift that changed the focus from being more arcade-style in the gameplay to more offer more of a realistic style of wrestling. The change came full circle the following year with SvR 2007 when Yukes completely revamped the control scheme by moving the grappling system from a face button to the right analog stick. Along with that the overall feel of the wrestlers was a lot heavier and thus they moved a lot slower. This is where my first change would come into play. I hate, let me stress HATE the attempts to make sports games more authentic and realistic. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve played some of the recent NHL games and FIFA games and I’ve made do with the whole ultimate control trick stick-type features. Hell I’ve even learned how to use them effectively. But if I could have my way I want these games to go back to the way they were before the whole simulation movement.
In my opinion Here Comes the Pain stands as the best wrestling game in terms of gameplay. It was the last game to use the more arcade styled game engine, but more than that I thought it was the most refined and the most fun. There was more speed and more action and sure it might not have been the most accurate representation of the WWE but then again this is a videogame we’re talking about. At this point though I highly doubt this is a change that will come to fruition. SvR 2010 will probably hit store shelves in about four months and given the last few installments of the series, I’m expecting to see the return of the grapple analog stick. But even if that’s the case there’s still the hope that some of the past game modes that have appeared in the series will return.
If there’s one thing I’ve loved about the WWE games it’s the ability to create your own version of just about anything. *** In various interviews, WWE Superstar John Morrison has talked about how the main focus of the game would revolve around customization. Being able to create your own superstar has been around since the first Smackdown game and every year they’ve added something. Usually you can expect that the collection of moves will be larger and have better animations. However I feel like the costume options have regressed a little. It’s nice to see things like jeans and hoodies and other regular clothes in the selection menu, but at this point ordinary clothes practically outnumber actual wrestling attire 4-1. I want SvR to go back to the days of Here Comes the Pain or Shut Your Mouth. There were tons of more traditional wrestling gear, be they tights or baggy costumes, but there were also plenty of visual selections and that’s the thing that’s most disappointing.
The last couple of years have had a handful of patterns you can add to the basic color of something like a pair of tights. These patterns range from army camo and tie-dye to some sort of hippie flower mix. The only thing that’s remained is the ability to add things like logos, symbols and select artwork both miscellaneous and taken from existing WWE superstars. Don’t get me wrong, some of these logos and things look really cool, but it’s not the same. There are certain designs that I loved but there’s just no way to replicate them the way the system is set up now.
Of course creating your own wrestler and customizing their visuals and ring attire are just the beginning. Playing SvR 2009, I literally spent hours combing through the various moves in order to create the perfect arsenal of maneuvers for my superstar. One can only expect the same thing in 2010 for the simple fact that it’s been part of the Create-a-Superstar mode since the first Smackdown game. But last year’s game was really interesting because it added a new Create-a-Finisher mode. This was probably the number one thing WWE fans were waiting for. Finishing moves are meant to be unique. It’s a way of putting your own personal stamp on a match. Being able to build your own Finisher gives you that added level of customization because it’s the one thing that epitomizes your characters style and everything they’re about. However this was the first year Create-a-Finisher has appeared in a Smackdown game and it showed, both in the good ways and bad ways.
I liked how THQ didn’t just focus on the move itself, but they really let you create a spectacle out of your finisher. Rather than just run through the steps, you could incorporate different taunts and hand gestures into the routine. In total you could string together up to 10 animations. Unfortunately there were a few limitations that set the new mode back. Finishers could only begin standing face-to-face with your opponent. This was particularly disappointing as it meant you couldn’t create ground-based Finishers or top-rope Finishers. Also submissions were left out which was a bit of frustrating. I guess the one thing that really bothered me though was how limited things got as you started to chain moves together. There were a ton of different animations to chose from when you’re at step one, but when you start to select positional changes like setting up for a suplex or a powerbomb, your options reduced drastically. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been watching wrestling for a long time and I know there are only so many things that you can do from a front suplex position, but I really think that there should have been more options available than what you are reduced to with each selection.
However, if there’s one creation option I know a lot of fans have been talking about on message boards and such it would be the ability to create your own arena. As far as I’m concerned, outside of bringing back Create-a-Championship which was absent for the first time last year since its inclusion in the original SvR, Create-an-Arena is easily the number one thing on my list. Traditionally Smackdown games have included the Raw and Smackdown designs as well as layouts from the previous year’s pay-per-view events. Add in whatever bonus unlockable arenas may be included and generally you have a total of fifteen to choose from. Normally that should suffice, but the opportunity to create your own trumps everything. Realistically I think some of the options would be limited though. The ramp distance for one would be something you couldn’t alter because all entrances in the game have a pre-programmed walking distance with taunts and fan interaction animated in. The stage and set design would be a little difficult to design. Since this isn’t Little Big Planet I really don’t see people being able to create all sorts of shapes and things particularly since you have a limited space to work with and have to fit in video screens and lighting and such.
I do believe that the possibility of choosing a preset stage and then modifying it would be possible. There could be a few pieces here and there that can be swapped out and of course you’d be able to choose your color scheme for the set. As I mentioned before, you wouldn’t be able to change the distance of the ramp and the isle as well for that matter, but you could still alter things like color and logos as well as maybe having the option of adding in set pieces here and there. I think if anything though, the most noticeable changes will come from being able to alter the ring itself. WWE’s ring is shaped in a traditional square but there’s lots to customize. Again, the first thing would be color. In this case there are so many things to be altered including the mat, ring apron, ropes, poles, stairs, and turnbuckles. The center of the ring mat, the sides of the apron, and the turnbuckles are all places you would also be able to add some sort of logo to further put your stamp on the venue. Lastly it would be pretty cool to be able to alter some of the little things around ringside like the guardrails and announcer’s tables.
I guess at this point, a lot of things about WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2010 are set in stone. But if there really is a focus on customization this year more so than we’ve seen in previous years, then who’s to say what might come about this year. I feel like there’s been some great stuff in the past and it wouldn’t be hard to recreate that success with just a few tweaks and additions.