2 Reviews

WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2011

Wrestling tries tackling the RPG but taps out early

As any camera pan over the screaming ringside hordes will attest, unlike other forms of entertainment, the crowds that wrestling draws are as widespread and diverse as you can get. It's a great amalgamation of soap opera, pantomime and technical showmanship and extra enjoyable because of the mix. You'd never see a long-simmering argument in the Queen Vic result in someone being head-slammed through the bar, more's the pity.

Haven't played a wrestling game before? It's an experience anybody can get into, but it's not to everyone's taste. A heavy dose of fan love and a pair of rose-tinted glasses will help to obscure the cracks that still blight the yearly franchise.

Progress is again incremental, with wrestlers edging a step closer to their real-world counterparts. We're still a few updates away from the skin-pore level of Fight Night realism, though, with some weird discrepancies evident: while Randy Orton looks the part, Edge appears to have been crafted from putty and pubic hair. More impressive are the dynamically generated storylines, leading to surprise appearances ringside depending on the rivalries you've created during the course of your game.


In that respect, it's edged closer to the unpredictability of the televised broadcasts.
While the whale-choking wealth of options is impressive - letting you customise matches, superstars, ring entrances and move sets - those choices also haven't advanced massively since last year. The biggest new addition to the game, The Road to Wrestlemania - which sees 2011 attempt to introduce RPG flavouring into the macho mix - pretty much falls flat on its arse. The ability to talk to or fight wrestlers backstage is limited, and the bland surroundings emphasise how tiny the leap in visuals has been.

WWE is still a title that needs to be approached with a huge dose of passion for the subject matter. Without it, there's no compulsion to discover the athleticism and show-stopping moves of its stars. This year's instalment still provides enough fan-service to make the hardcore throw their money into the ring, but it doesn't offer enough mass-market appeal.

The verdict

Intercontinental rather than World Champion

  • Covers everything you'd want
  • Detailed customisation options
  • Storyline Creator ripe for lampooning
  • RPG mode lighter than Coke Zero
  • Not accessible for all
Xbox 360