What Does THQ Need to Fix?
THQ’s WWE SmackDown vs. Raw franchise features some very enjoyable elements such as robust creation tools and a large assortment of matches, but there’s no denying the fact that the series has gotten stale over the past couple of years. Simply put, unless you’re playing with a friend or making your own wrestlers and storylines, the WWE brand of professional wrestling games leaves much to be desired. What does THQ need to do to breathe new life into this slowly plummeting series? These are the top five flaws in WWE SmackDown vs. Raw.
5. Poor Animation
Though pulling off big moves certainly looks cool, the animations in SmackDown vs. Raw are a bit wonky, and seeing wrestlers move around the ring is a pain to see. The robotic movements of wrestlers as they walk around the ring or come off the ropes after an Irish whip are crude and look totally lazy. This isn’t the era of the Nintendo 64 and original PlayStation anymore. THQ, please let the wrestlers in your games move around more fluidly. For a series of professional wrestling games that’s attempting to simulate the grand spectacle of sports entertainment, SmackDown vs. Raw sure looks strange. Oh, and don’t even get me started on that blasted hit detection!
4. Overly Streamlined Design
Everyone from young children to older individuals watches wrestling, so it’s understandable that SmackDown vs. Raw is accessible and easy to play with others. Regardless of that fact, though, THQ really needs to do something about the horrid AI. It’s OK if children can take on the computer and avoid dealing with frustrating experiences against an unstoppable opponent, but for us older gamers, the Legend difficulty setting shouldn’t be such a joke.
3. Terrible Sound Design
Entrances aside, SmackDown vs. Raw has got to be one of the worst-sound games in recent memory. The commentators sound bored out of their minds and the audience is completely dead. The loud and lively vibe of WWE programming isn’t captured accurately, and this really takes away from the experience. SmackDown vs. Raw 2011 is the most recent example of utter fail in terms of sound design. How many times can Jerry “The King” Lawler say, “He’s got him down for the pin! Turn around ref!” in a single match?
2. Slow Physics and Gameplay
Remember the days when SmackDown: Here Comes the Pain and Day of Reckoning provided hectic, fast-placed gameplay? Those days have been gone for a long time. When WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2006 launched, the series went from its arcade gameplay origins to a more serious, sim-like experience. Unfortunately, while that worked at the time thanks to the tight design of that game, recent entries in the series have felt overly sluggish and sloppy. Luckily, WWE All Stars may change that with its crazy gameplay, but it would be nice to see SmackDown vs. Raw go back to its roots and deliver a more rewarding gameplay experience.
1. No Major Improvements
Plenty of sports games usually tweak some elements or make much-need additions and fixes with each subsequent entry. WWE’s flagship wrestling game series, however, does no such thing and instead gives gamers practically the same the game every year. The argument can be made that SmackDown vs. Raw 2010 was a better game than the latest release due to the fact that it at least introduced Story Designer mode. Every year, SmackDown vs. Raw should feel tighter and play much smoother than before, but it’s just not happening, and the series is suffering as a result. THQ needs to go in and make some notable fixes to the game engine when the next game in the series launches.
THQ, Make Some Changes to SmackDown vs. Raw
SmackDown vs. Raw is the current standard in professional wrestling games, so it’s a real shame that the standard is so low. There’s no denying the fun factor of the games (especially when multiple players join in), and the creation tools make for seemingly endless possibilities. But when we’re getting essentially the same game every year with absolutely no fixes and the same bugs intact every time, it becomes difficult to get excited. THQ, fix those robot-like animations, make the game a little more challenging, add some personality to the sound design, return the series to its fast-paced design, and actually fix something when the next game in the series comes around.