WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2007 - PS2 Review
|16/11/2006||THQ||Yukes||1-6, 4 ||M||Medium|
Whenever a new wrestling title is released fans seem to go into a frenzy. It's not uncommon to see the latest release hit the top of the charts, and then stay there for weeks on end - and with so many major releases coming out in the crazy Christmas season that's quite an achievement. So 2006 is here and Sony gamers were eagerly awaiting WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2007 to hit all three Sony platforms - PS2, PSP and PS3. Then THQ dropped a bombshell announcing in July 2006 that the game would not be coming to Sony's next-gen system due to a lack of development time - so now it's down to two - PSP and PS2. We've taken a look at the PS2 version and discovered, yet again, that while we're not keen fans of the TV events, the games can be tremendous fun.
|That's going to hurt!|
Gameplay in WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2007 is solid enough with well over 50 fighters available to be selected including favourites such as John Cena, Edge, Triple-H, The Undertaker, Kurt Angle, Batista, Chavo Guerrero and a couple of unlockable classics such as The Rock and Hulk Hogan to name a few. Keen gamers will note several newcomers including Umaga, MNM, The Boogeyman, and The Great Khali. Through the game you'll also meet non-playable characters that help bring the franchise to life including Vince McMahon, Jerry Lawler, Tony Chimmel and Jonathan Coachman. The entrances for each of the wrestlers is very impressive. Each has their own theme song, reactions from the crowds, and pyrotechnics. What I did find though is that they ran a little long and after a couple of viewings I was looking to skip them.
Yukes has introduced a new grappling system which we have to say works pretty well. It doesn't alter the gameplay dramatically but is a nice touch and works fairly well. As well as the standard wrestling moves it's also possible to pull of some of the more spectacular special moves for each character. During the matches you can press the circle button to regain stamina - crucial if you want to dominate in the ring, while by pressing the applicable shoulder button you can reverse an attacking move from your opponent.
|Prepare to feel the pain...|
As with previous games there's a tonne of game modes to keep you occupied in this game. Most people will want to head straight for the Exhibition mode which allows you to select a couple of wrestlers and head straight into the ring. When you've got past the quick thrills most will head into the lengthy Season and General Manager modes which really do surprise with the large number of cut scenes used to tell the story. The cut scenes themselves are well scripted and presented and while they tell a detailed, if somewhat overblown, story they do allow branching in the story according to your decisions and performance. These modes will certainly keep you playing for days on end.
As with previous titles multi-player and online gameplay plays a big role in WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2007. Offline the game supports up to 6-players in a variety of game modes while online includes support for 4-players at a time. The online modes support full voice chat which is good to see.
|Booker T takes on The Boogeyman.|
All is not perfect though. I would love to see more interactivity with the levels. Sure you can grab items from the crowd such as signs to use as weapons, but I just want more - more weapons, more violence, more interactivity and certainly more destructible objects. Ringside objects are sparse to say the least and it's one area I would love to see Yukes put a lot more emphasis on in the next-generation versions next year. I was also disappointed by the number of "tap the button fast" type moments when you're pinned, or knocked down.
My biggest disappointment with this title though is that it simply becomes tiresome. There's only so many wrestling moves, and man of the fighters have a similar move list. Unlike a fighting game such as Tekken or Soul Calibur where each character has their own distinct styles, the range of moves is rather limited in wrestling. There's also a bit of loading in the game which is disappointing this far into a consoles life. I can understand having loading in a new franchise with an inexperienced team, but when the developer is up to it's seventh wrestling title on the Playstation 2 we expect them to have refined the loading system much more then is evidenced here.
|Character detail is impressive...|
Graphically the game starts off very well. An energetic intro, nice menus and some great wrestler introductions into the arenas really set the tone perfectly. Where the game then starts to fall down is when the action gets into the ring. The wrestlers look splendid, but the crowds and ring surroundings are quite sparse, and lack the visual vibrancy one would expect. It looks more like an early PS2 or even late PSOne game in terms of crowd liveliness. The game also includes plenty of clipping issues and, even worse, at times the wrestlers seem to slide around the ring rather then walking. I'm not talking about a couple of centimeters, but rather a couple of meters. These glitches simply shouldn't be happening any more.
Audio in WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2007 is pretty solid with a good range of music, solid, and quite meaty effects. In fact the wrestler intros are fantastic with different theme songs for each wrestler. The speech, and by that we mean commentary, is a bit limited but what is there is entertaining enough for the game.
|... but crowds look like shit.|
Ultimately while WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2007 is a very solid title I don't really see the series moving anywhere too fast. If you liked previous games in the series then this is a worthwhile title, but for non-fans there isn't a reason to take a second look. One can only hope that Yukes really push the series into the next-generation with refined gameplay, improved visuals and enhanced commentary. A solid, if unremarkable, title.
Review By: Dave Warner
Order your copy now from Gameswarehouse (PAL version) or Amazon (NTSC Version).
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|GRAPHICS||Fighters still have some average movements, solid crowds and details.||80%|
|SOUND||Commentary is average again, the music and effects are pretty good.||76%|
|GAMEPLAY||If you like wrestling then this will keep you entertained for a while.||83%|
|VALUE||Plenty to keep you busy, but in the end it's more of the same.||73%|
|OVERALL||WWE Smackdown Vs Raw 2007 is another solid title in the series, but fans need to consider if it's worth the upgrade knowing that next year will see a PS3 version - which will hopefully allow Yukes to push more boundaries.||80%|