Review: WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011 (Nintendo Wii)
by ML Kennedy on November 5, 2010

WWE: Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011
Developer: Yuke’s Yokohama
Publisher: THQ
Genre: Wrestling/Fighting
Release Date: 10/26/10

I’ve been playing wrestling games for nigh on twenty five years. I’ve watched the Amazon bite Starman. I bought a turbo pad to survive the Genesis button-mashers. I marveled at hearing real audio on my Sega CD. I lived through the glory days of the N64 and the dark times of the Gamecube. I survived the motion controls of the first WWE Wii game.

Barely.

It is because of this experience that I have certain expectations of SVR2011. With wrestling games, it is generally two steps forward and two steps back. Some problems are fixed; new problems are made.

“We’ve got unprecedented graphics now that we are on this new system! (So what if there is a third the content!)”

Or

“We’ve got unprecedented content and options, and also we have slowdown when four wrestlers are on the screen at the same time. You don’t like tag matches, do you? Oh yeah, and we kinda have a bug that erases all your save data.”

Then again, each year EACH YEAR I think, “this year it’s going to be different!”

It’s called Chicago Cubs syndrome, and it is terminal.

So will SVR2011 fix more problems than it creates?

Let’s Review

After playing this game for a week straight, I have only one question to the developers: Guys, what in the blue hell is wrong with you?

Don’t get me wrong, SVR2011 can be a lot of fun. There is a ton of content, and a ton of stuff to keep the consumers busy for a long time. There is always some enjoyment that some with making effigies of friends and loved ones, then making them hit each other with chairs.

That being said: this is, quite frankly, the buggiest game I have ever encountered. Small glitches, large ones, audio incongruities and visual nonsense, this game has problems everywhere.

Normally, I don’t take notes when reviewing games. I have a good memory and can remember little things that go wrong here and there. Starting the second day, I NEEDED to take notes for this game. Too much weird crap had happened, and I needed to catalog some of the insanity of this thing.

A small notebook was filled by the end of the third day.

It started with little things. My daughter is named Thalia. She like Natalya.

They rhyme!

So I played a match using Natalya. Jerry “the King” Lawler used the same redhead joke seven times.

The match lasted two minutes.

I thought, “That’s odd.”

Then, I had a battle against William Regal. Every couple of seconds Cole and Lawler would tell me that “Regal has locked in the STF!” or “Regal Stretch locked in!”

I have yet to see either of those moves in this game.

Seriously.

It’s bad.

I have low expectations for video game announcers, but it is really, really bad.

I’m pretty sure that the game is actually called by Tony Schiavone doing a canny Cole and Lawler impersonation, drunk out of his gourd, and watching some other unseen wrestling matches.

It’s one thing for Cole to tell me how Santino is gaining momentum, long after he has hit the single punch he landed in a one sided match.

It’s one thing for Cole to repeatedly say, “What an amazingly gifted maneuver!”

What does that even mean!?

It is one thing for Cole to talk about how unpredictable these superstars are when they are lying on the mat doing nothing.

BUT, It is another thing altogether to miscall every move of The Freakin’ Heart Break Kid Shawn Freakin’ Michaels.

I played a single match with Shawn Michaels wherein I worked Batista’s leg. Naturally, Batista never sold it.

~REALISM!

Finally, I hit the Sweet Chin Music- HBK’s patented super kick. It was called a FLYING ELBOW by the announcers, who then preceded to talk about how I am continuing to work the torso.

What?!

I couldn’t even pin after that as I was so confused. I thought, “Well, what happens when I go for the flying elbow?” Eventually, I went up to the top rope for my big move and while I was in the air Michael Cole yells, “HBK locks in the figure four!”

What?!

A thought brews. . .

Ha HA! I’m going to lock in the figure four! Maybe that will be the flying elbow!

I do that thing, and the announcers tell me that “Michael’s forearm connects!”

Pinches bridge of nose while looking to the floor.

It was then that I realized that this would be the biggest night in the history of Monday Nitro.

I hastily made my custom wrestler. Making my CAW takes far too long now, so I opt to just make a normal-sized guy with a pony tail and put him in a black shirt and jeans. I could care less about designing an entrance.

We had the start of interactive entrances a few games ago. Subsequently, those possibilities were ignored. If I can’t attack an opponent while he poses on the turnbuckle, or choose to rip up a sign from the crowd, or give my sunglasses to a little kid, what is the point? I don’t need a large section of a video game dedicated to something that cannot be played. Nuts to that!

When I make my CAW, I generally just copy the moves of a wrestler I like, change up the specials to include a Cloverleaf and an STO, and tweak it as I go along.

I did the same thing for SVR2011, though could not find a suitable STO, only an STO backbreaker and a running STO called “thugnificent.”

Shenanigans! Shenanigans on that!

Like last year’s game, part of the creation process has you pick audience signs for the CAW. Sadly, Ken Kennedy was fired so there weren’t Kennedy signs for me to use this year.

Ken Anderson sucks.

Yeah, he does.

Everything works out all right, though. As it turns out, there aren’t any signs in the audience anyway.

For anybody.

Ever.

Apparently, they took it out of this year’s model but didn’t bother to remove it from last year’s CAW template.

How embarrassing!

I also couldn’t find out how to adjust my stats. Years past, you could make your fighter more of a high-flyer, brawler, technician, rudo or what-have-you. This year, I didn’t see any of those things. Last year’s game gave you experience for different abilities with every match you did, career or exhibition. This year these stats are somewhat hidden, and can only be accessed via superstar management. I’m assuming points are gained through Road to Wrestlemania mode, but the whole system is far more nebulous than the previous model.

I went to use my CAW in Road to Wrestlemania mode. This year, however, you can only use the CAWs in a storyline where you try to end Undertaker’s Wrestlemania streak. I had no desire to do that thing, so I looked at the other storylines. We have the Undertaker storyline, a Jericho storyline, a Rey-Rey storyline, a Christian Storyline and a Cena storyline.

Way to push the young talent, guys! Miz is on the cover; no love for him? No storyline for any wrestler who hasn’t been around for ten years or ten world titles?

So, I started a Christian storyline. That is, to say, Christian the wrestler and not the Jesus worshippers.

The latter might be fun to play. Primo has challenged you to a cage match! You forgive him! Edge has hit you with a chair! You forgive him seventy time seven times!

You done?

Edge is going to regret hitting me with that chair the 491st time.

This year’s Road to Wrestlemania has thrown in some “sandbox elements.” Unfortunately, the sandboxiness is pretty much limited to wandering around a large and mostly empty backstage area without much to do except marvel at how bad a camera can be this far into the 3d gaming era.

Few wrestlers are around. Most of those who are there have nothing to say to you. The controls are remarkably bad considering the buttons do NOTHING! You are pretty much limited to moving the camera and moving the wrestler and it controls terribly. I’m constantly running against walls, some of which are invisible. The camera is constantly up in your grill and it makes it makes it hard to see who is in the room or where the door is.

There is a whole little interview section with an attached hair and makeup part that is diva-focused. If you see a diva and want to hit on her, you can’t.

You can walk up to her, wait for the button prompt to show up telling you to press A to TALK. You do this thing, wait for the single button push to register, wait for the disc to find that audio clip and then the diva tells you to go away.

Worse still: if you see the evil Matt Hardy backstage, you can’t just pick up a sledgehammer and beat his malformed knees into powder. No, you have to walk up to him and wait for the prompt to say press A to TALK, press Z to PUSH.

Who would want to talk to Matt Hardy?!

Naturally, I press Z. My wrestler pushes Matt Hardy. Then nothing happens. After some trial and error, I learned that you have to push a wrestler three times before an impromptu backstage match breaks out.

These matches can be fun if you stick to the area related grapples. For instance, if you throw Matt into the diva’s makeup table, you can throw powder right into his stupid face. If you throw him into a box, you can bash his greasy head into that box.

Unfortunately, the game dumbs down the grapple system while backstage. Pretty much every grapple attempt will end with a knife edge chop or a back rake. It is ridiculously stupid. and leads to many of these fights resembling a bout of Rock “Ëœem Sock “Ëœem robots. In order to avoid that, I try to Irish whip stupid Hardy into the areas wherein I can smash a TV into his stupid pug nose. The problem is you have to hit the run and grab button at the same time to do that thing. So, half the time that leaves me running around like an idiot grabbing air or chopping or back raking or performing a running grapple. Few buttons have discrete functions.

On a related note: the Rock’s float-over DDT is used by so many guys in this game as their running grapple and it does remarkably little damage considering half the roster uses a DDT variation as a finisher. What the heck guys? I can give a guy a running DDT on the concrete multiple times, but a single DDT on the mat ends a match?

So, I go through Christian’s storyline acting like a complete sociopath attacking any wrestler I see. It gives me experience points to act this way, allowing me to increase my grappling, striking, endurance and momentum abilities. It takes forever to level up, and there are only four levels to any of these abilities anyway. I don’t really notice any difference in increasing these stats anyway.

Anyway, during the storyline mode, no one seems to notice that Christian is a sociopath. I attack another wrestler in the locker room before our match, and both of us come out to our match like nothing happened.

What the Deuce and Domino?

After a brief stint in ECW(?!), I end up re-uniting with World Champion Edge, becoming tag champs. It’s a nice little bit of nostalgia, but then again the game is already nostalgia heavy. The Jericho storyline is him feuding with Stephanie. The Undertaker storyline involves magic, Paul Bearer, Jake the Snake, and Jimmy Snuka.

Eventually, Christian has to win the Money in the Bank. (Money in the Bank guarantees you a title shot whenever you want one.)

Being very clever, I decide to hold on to the Money in the Bank. Maybe one of the big champs (HBK or EDGE) will have a grueling match, and I can be an opportunist.

i.e., cash in my title shot whilst the champion is fatigued and hurt. Clever.

I bide my time until the Smackdown before Wrestlemania. I figure, Wrestlemania is the end of the storyline, might as well use what I got.

Makes sense.

I cash it in on HBK and announce to Edge that I will be wrestling him at “ËœMania.

Wrestlemania comes. HBK comes out first.

I assumed that the champion entered first because tradition sucks.

Then, Christian comes out with the title belt!

Spoiler alert?

Christian is announced as the WWE champion before the match begins. When I win with him, it is announced as him retaining the title.

What?!

Subsequently, Christian was announced as the new WWE champ.

That’s true, but – GAH! Beta test, you half wits!

Seriously, I have beta-tested quest games written by teenagers that worked better than this thing.

I think the audio is the buggiest part of the game. This is honestly the worst audio I have ever heard. Here are just a few of the aural FAILS that I wrote down for SVR2011:

1. A kick was called as a camel clutch.
2. Locking in the Sharpshooter was said to be damaging the arm.
3. Cena was announced as the Intercontinental champ when he was clearly the WWE champ.
4. The sound effects for some weapons were absent in the parking lot brawls.
5. The announcers sound like they are being broadcast from an old AM radio towards the end of the Vs. Undertaker storyline.
6. On multiple instances during WWE universe mode, the theme of the victorious wrestler kept going, after the match, through the menus, and into the next round of intros. Mind you, over any other audio that should be playing. As such I have heard a really weird mash up of Beth Phoenix and Swagger’s theme songs.
7. The announcers repeatedly call sledgehammers LADDERS!
8. Announcers will cut off their own sentences. Often they do this saying the same thing that they were saying in the first place.

Maybe that is supposed to be, like, stage fright.

9. Announcers will laud the agility it takes to get kicked in the face.
10. Announcers have trouble remembering the genders of match participants, using he and she interchangeably.
11. While playing a Diva’s match, the announcers said that a victory here might propel my team into the hunt for the unified tag titles.

So, the announcers of this game cannot tell the difference between one woman and TWO MEN!

All the standard visual glitches are here too. Hair stands up awkwardly, belts slung onto shoulders hover a few inches above, size differences in wrestlers causes some moves to clip or miss.

And the game doesn’t look noticeable better than last year’s model. It’s the same old Wii WWE game, where the top of the card looks like the top of the card, and the bottom of the card looks like nobody in particular. The main graphical difference between this game and SVR2010, is that the crowd looks even gloomier and more deformed now that they aren’t holding any freakin’ signs!

Oh, but there are gameplay glitches too! I played a number one contender’s match for Evan Bourne’s US title with Sheamus and R-truth. Bourne came out for commentary. As soon as the match started, he ran into the ring.

It’s called a run-in.

Only, Bourne didn’t bother climbing up the ring steps or the ring apron. No, he ran straight into the ring, his lower half under the mat and his torso sticking out through the canvas. Bourne then tried jumping about five times, and got stuck for about three minutes.

He eventually found his way out after I destroyed the announce table.

Sometimes you can do that without the announcers even noticing!

Also, maybe it was just when I had the game on easy, but I could keep people pinned indefinitely. I first noticed this when I had fat and stupid Matt Hardy pinned. Beth Phoenix was acting as his manager (and was probably cuckolding him). Beth went to distract the ref to stop the count. I kept Matt pinned. Beth started to leave the apron, noticed I still had Fat Hardy pinned, and decided to distract the ref some more. This happened again and again. After a few turns, the ref ejected her from ringside and counted the pin.

All in all, I had Hardy pinned for what must have been a 73 count.

And that was not an isolated incident.

The collision detection is awful. Hitting somebody with a chair should be easy if you are standing in front of them. Not so for this game. I swung one chair THREE TIMES while standing in front of Kozlov and managed to miss each time. He ripped the chair from my hands, and swung twice at me, missing both times. I then kicked him in the face, knocked him down. I grabbed the chair, and managed to hit him while he was down. Thus, the chair was proven to exist.

Then I tried a running chair strike. That doesn’t work in this game if the opponent is down. Also, like last year’s model, you still can’t taunt with weapons.

There are a ton of little things about SVR2011 that are really troubling. Top rope moves tend to damage the giver more than the taker. Especially if the opponent is prone and the move is designed for a supine opponent. If you drop a Savage elbow onto the back of an opponent, he WILL get up before you.

Also, like many of its brethren, SVR2011 forgets that wrestlers are different sizes. As such, Chris Jericho can easily pick up the 500 pound Big Show and power bomb him into the lockers.

It’s actually required during Jericho’s Road to Wrestlemania storyline.

Granted, I shouldn’t expect much realism from this game. Not after the Vs. Undertaker storyline had me stealing an urn from Stephanie’s office, collecting souls in it, and talking to the ghost of Paul Bearer. This storyline gets so stupid that it actually crosses into brilliant territory, before spinning right back into stupid.

Wait a tick, I’m a couple of thousand words into this review and haven’t really harped on the controls enough. The best thing I can say about the controls is that they are somewhat functional.

Removing the case from ladder matches is less frustrating this year!

Mostly, though they are an unintuitive mess focused on CHAIN WRESTLING. Now, I love chain wrestling, but it isn’t really reflective of the current WWE product.

The word “current” was unnecessary. You think Hogan and Hacksaw did a lot of chain wrestling?

It wouldn’t be so bad, but the chain wrestling basically amounts to a series of quick time events that can be spammed through by mashing A and B. You end up not being able to plan what moves you want to do, and just throwing out a lot of arm wringers and such.

The standard wrestling game problems are here as well. Buttons are assigned for multiple tasks, and the computer is bad at guessing whether or not you want to stomp the opponent lying next to you or perform a springboard splash onto an empty spot of canvas. The game is also horrible at determining which opponent you want to attack. I can’t figure out how to direct an attack, how to change focus, anything like that. As a result, I can look pretty stupid in triple threat matches, running away from a downed opponent only to attack a standing one with a leg drop.

Seriously game, what the Hell?!

And whoever decided that the best way to pin an opponent would be to hold the RUN button needs to be slapped sharply and without apology.

Run and Pin SHOULD NOT BE THE SAME BUTTON!

Every time I get to enjoying this game it does something DUMB. I unlock classic Kane. Classic Kane’s titantron is in the game. Classic Kane default uses unmasked Kane’s video.

Dumb.

I have my character join the Straight Edge Society, and do a couple of three on one handicapped-

-differently abled-

-beatdowns. After winning the match, Luke Gallows doesn’t celebrate. Instead, he checks on the defeated opponent.

At first, I was baffled. Then it dawned on me: This game uses the 2 on 2 TAG TEAM win animation, after a 3 on 1 handicap match! Gallows was acting like the loser’s tag partner.

WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU GAME!

Is it the time crunch? I know it must be difficult to release a new version of the same game every year, especially since you have the need to change the control system every freakin’ year such that I can never just import last years CAWs.

Nope. You got to spend a few hours every year making a new Muta, Malenko, and Brock.

But if you can’t make the game function, don’t release it! Wait until you are done with the game before you call it finished. I wouldn’t make my daughter a bowl of cake batter for her birthday and call it a cake.

It is immoral to release a game this buggy for the PS3 or the 360. It is wrong to make people pay for an unfinished game with the promise of future patches.

IT IS UNCONSCIOUNABLE TO RELEASE AN UNFINISHED GAME FOR THE WII.

No patches are coming. It’s the freakin’ Wii. You aren’t going to fix this. You aren’t going to afford me downloadable content. I understand that I have to make my own Daniel Bryan.

I get that.

The thing that bothers me the most here is that the game can be a lot of fun. With the WWE Universe mode, you can play dream matches and do a bit of fantasy booking. But the game is so broken, and so poorly planned out that it makes the whole thing seem amateurish.

The Scores:

Story: Poor
Graphics: Mediocre
Sound: Dreadful
Control/Gameplay: Mediocre
Replayability: Great
Balance: Bad
Originality: Dreadful
Addictiveness: Good
Appeal: Great
Miscellaneous: Awful
Final Score: Below Average Game

Short Attention Span Summary
When I play WWE Universe mode, every now and then something odd happens. A wrestler comes down to the ring after the participants’ entrances, and takes a seat behind the barricade. He or she brandishes what I assume to be a Tricorder made out of beef jerky. I’ve tried attacking that guy and I’ve tried stealing the beef jerky, but I can’t change my focus in this friggin’ game. I’ve tried throwing stupid Matt Hardy at the beef jerky, but to no avail.

I want that goddamned beef jerky tricorder.



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ML Kennedy

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  • Sockless Missy

    Is the PS3 version just as buggy?

  • ML Kennedy

    Gosh, I hope not. I haven’t played it. From the rumblings I hear, its audio is bad but not this bad.

  • http://www.alexanderlucard.com Alex Lucard

    The PS3 version is decent. it’s nowhere as buggy as what Kennedy went through, but the audio’s still pretty awful. You might be better off with Lucha Libre.

  • Jim

    This is easily the most entertaining thing I’ve read all day.

  • Sebastian Howard

    Great review, I’m glad I checked this out!

  • joseph yousif

    why can’t i put a guy through stacked when i see videos on how to and i try to it dosent work. why dident you guys word on it for ps2 but you spent all your time on ps3,exbox 360 ,psp… when you know how to do it email me with m email josephyousif19@yahoo.ca

  • joseph yousif

    also how can u lean a table on ropes a i see on videos

  • ML Kennedy

    I didn’t review the PS2 version, because I don’t have a PS2. As for tables, I know you can lean a table in the corner, but I haven’t been able to lean one against the ropes or double stack.

    Although, I haven’t tried yet.

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