Hands-on: WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 (Xbox 360)

How’s this year’s Smackdown looking?

Last week, I got a chance to play with the latest version of WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 and I have to say as a non-wrestling fan, I was impressed. There have been some great changes made to this year’s game and the controls finally feel refined and responsive. There is a ton of modes like your typical matches but also new ones which are pretty complex that weirdly doesn’t explain how they work.

This means that playing alongside someone else who didn’t have a clue either made it all very tricky on how to achieve victory when fighting each other, until we were told what to do. It’s a bit troubling that the game doesn’t have a tutorial for each game type and that they expect newcomers to instantly grasp what each mode is about. It makes it hard for newbies to enter the world of Smackdown when it isn’t that well explained, but it’s near perfect for veterans and I guess that’s who the game is really designed for.

The physics have improved from last year and each punch and kick looks realistic, even the facial animations look authentic as pain is delivered. There are also a ton of button combinations that I found tough to master, but given time I’m sure I could. There is a level of randomness to be found in Raw 2011 like random wrestlers turning up to team up with your opponent to fight you…bit unfair, but that alliance can turn sour if your opponent tries to also fight him. You can also attack the referee for some reason…

There is an impressive roster of wrestlers to be found in this year’s game. I didn’t get to play as all of them but the ones I did play as all handled very differently indeed. Some are slow but make up for it in strength while the opposite applies also.

All in all, WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2011 is looking sharp…despite being a game purely for the fans as always. Look out for the full review when the game launches later this month.

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