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Thursday, March 22, 2007

Game Review:WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2007

(First play-through) Being a huge fan of wrestling shows, nothing beats playing a wrestling game. I browsed the shop for one wrestling game that I missed out on buying during last year and the result is WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2007. The last and the only other WWE game that was played by me was 2005’s WWE WrestleMania 21 for the Xbox and what a complete nightmare I received from that game! Fortunately, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007 does good enough to not repeat the horror show from WrestleMania 21.

For a start, I must say that SvR 2007 is choke-full of modes and features that will keep you going for quite a long time. Perhaps one of the things I like most about the game is the Season mode. With different storylines for each individual superstar, I can just imagine how much single-player content has already gone into the game. The Season mode adds a whole new level of realism to the game with its spot-on representation of WWE events that take your selected superstar from feud to feud. Couple that together with look-alike behind the scenes brawls between superstars and unexpected betrayals that inevitably lead to the twists and turns in the storyline, and what you have is a game that lets you feel the heat and intensity of WWE – minus the pain. I was pleasantly surprised to find that throughout the Season mode for each superstar, there would be points where there would be options for you to choose. For example, a superstar that you just stood up for has betrayed you and your previous opponent sends you a message requesting for alliance with you against the betrayer. After which, you can choose to accept or decline the offer. The game is very faithful to the real WWE and should please most WWE fans, including myself, out there.

The game also pleases me in the controls department. Upon toying with SvR 2007 for a few moments, I quickly came to realize that the controls are very much different from WrestleMania 21 – and it is for the better. My superstar feels simpler to control and the ease of stringing attacks together increases, not to mention the controls being more responsive as well. One of the new features included in SvR 2007 are the environmental hotspots, which again, makes the game more realistic. Your superstar can now inflict damage on his/her opponents by using the various objects scattered around the ring. For example, you can grab the banner from the supporter in the spectator area and use it on your opponents. All these prove fun and satisfying. The other feature that I like about SvR 2007 is the stamina bar, which unfortunately, prevents you from doing more than 3 or 4 attacks in a row, but makes even more parts of the game scream, “Realistic!” Unlike WrestleMania 21, where opponents will be able to get up from the mat promptly after a ferocious string of attacks, SvR 2007 does the obverse. Instead, in SvR 2007, your opponents will be out of stamina after some attacks from your superstar and would actually take some time getting ready again. Similarly, if your superstar performs too many moves at one go, it may drain his/her stamina bar and the said superstar may have to rest first before continuing to attack the opponents. In fact, playing SvR 2007 feels like I am watching a WWE match on the television! Before I forget, the game also allows you to create your own characters as well, but since I have not tried that feature out, I will leave that to the full review.

Moving on to the graphics, the Xbox 360 version does have some eye candy. Take for example, the perspiration that can be spotted on the superstars’ bodies after fighting for a while. Blood drip out when opponents sustain heavy damage as well. Try slamming your opponents’ heads on the side of the ring and notice what happens. However, all these do not give a nod to SvR 2007 being one of the best looking games on Xbox 360. Textures, although considerably better, still look bland. Sound, on the other hand, is appropriate with those rock music blaring through my television’s speakers all the time. Nevertheless, this certainly does not excuse SvR 2007 from those words that the in-game announcers kept on repeating all too often. Seriously, the game needs to have more variety for the words.

The last thing that I want to see is the word ‘loading’, but somehow, SvR 2007 displays that word almost every time I hit the ‘A’ button to proceed to the next screen. Believe it or not, some loading screens actually lead to another loading screen! Overall, the waiting time is still short, but I find it frustrating to encounter so many loading screens.

Please note that these are only my first impressions of the game; I have yet to complete the entire game. For more on WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2007, remember to check back soon to the Powerplay blog for a more elaborate review of the game that will expand on the many details (including the other modes besides the Season mode) and options that have just been written.


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