Improving on a yearly franchise is always going to be difficult, factoring in keeping the old fans of the game happy along with bringing enough innovation to entice new players. WWE Smackdown vs. Raw is lucky enough as a franchise to have legions of dedicated fans who are likely to purchase the title each year regardless of what content is included, so it's very good to know that every effort is still being made behind the scenes to add truckloads of new content, and WWE SVR 2010 is looking to be one of the most impressive outings to date.
It has not gone unnoticed that the longevity of these games depends heavily on the amount of custom and personalised content that is available, and so WWE SVR 2010 has more creative features than you can poke a barbed-wire 2x4 at. For starters, the superstar creation system has been noticeably tweaked and includes more options than ever to let your imaginations run wild, or to recreate your favourite superstars from the past. The system here is incredibly simple to navigate despite featuring heaps more options in regards to perfecting your creations. In a program similar to paint, you can even create your own logos that can be placed on your superstar to really give it that unique touch.
In terms of creative freedom, Yukes has gone all out this year; in addition to creating your own finishing move as seen previously, you can now create diving finishers as well so that you can choose just how you want to drop onto your opponent from the top rope, complete with the angle in which you jump. The options here are exhaustive as well, ensuring that you can tailor your finishing moves to be completely original compared to everything else you've seen in the game already.
One of the most exciting additions to this year's iteration is the ability to actually create your own story mode (imaginatively titled Create A Story mode), where you're able to literally plan out the twists and turns of the WWE, complete with dialogue! It's not just a matter of inserting words though; you'll actually be choosing where cut-scenes take place, which superstars are involved, what happens in terms of storyline branching if the player was to win or lose the match, right down to the fine detail of deciding what emotion will be on each superstars face as this is all taking place. You can even choose the soundtrack for the background, or add in crowd chants at specific moments to give it that authentic WWE TV feel.
The game even goes as far as letting you edit together highlights from your matches that you can use to create your own entrance video. It's not just highlights as the game sees them either, as you are actually able to choose the camera angle, zoom in on specific parts of the match and edit together the entrance video of your choosing, complete with the song of your choice, and complete with the superstar entrance and pyrotechnics that you create yourself as well. Needless to say, the possibilities here are endless, and being able to share this with everybody in the online WWE SVR 2010 world means there will always be new superstars to compete against, new storylines to play and new designs to add to your collection.
The gameplay itself has also been tweaked considerably, and the match flow is much better because of it. As a veteran of the Smackdown vs. Raw series, the most apparent change that may be a little hard to adjust to at first is the fact that there is only one counter button. That's right, no more left trigger for strikes and right trigger for grapples - it all just takes place using the right trigger now. This doesn't necessarily make things easier as you may initially think, as timing actually becomes important rather than just mashing the right counter button until it works. There is also an absence of a HUD, with finishers and stamina represented by a circular momentum bar under your wrestler's feet. If you get on a roll, you'll earn that finisher quickly, whilst if you're getting hammered, it's going to take a little bit of work to get that momentum back and build up to a victory.
Because of the changes, we found that matches are more competitive, and less about a lucky guess of picking the right button at the right time. Any damage to your superstar is shown by the areas of their body that they are nursing, and they'll hold their head if they've had one too many DDT's, which is an indication that targeting that body part will likely be an advantage for you. Kicking out of a pin-fall is also about holding down a button and then letting go at the right moment, rather than just mashing the pad and hoping for the best, adding a slight element of skill to things, and also meaning that surprise victories are more of a possibility too.
Overall, there's lots to talk about still; Road to Wrestlemania is back, the game presents itself very similarly to what you watch on television which is a nice touch, and the game features a massive roster featuring current superstars along with some Legends thrown in for good measure. With just over a month before the game launches, we're already planning our sick days from work, because this could be the most addictive WWE game yet, with more fan-service than ever seen before.