When I heard of this game and heard it described by it's creators I was expecting a huge improvement over Here Comes the Pain. What I got was a game that did take 2 steps forward but also took 1 step back. In other words there really isn't anything about the game that knocks my socks off. Sure the Create-a-Belt and PPV functions are great but there are some additions I think they could have done without. First being the voiceovers of the superstars. They are obviously scripted and sound like they were recorded in a box. The match commentary is mundane at best and a bit detached but it is something that can be overlooked because you can tune it out. The improved story lines are pretty good so far in season mode and are a lot like what you see on WWE television which is a plus but a big minus in season mode is the inability to take part in any matches that your season superstar isn't in himself. I found this great in HCTP a little perplexing that you can't in this version. A surprising omission in Raw vs. Smackdown are the tag titles. This is something I don't understand. Sure you can create them but why create a championship that should already be there? Couple that with the fact that to create 2 tag belts will take a tremendous amount of Smackdown dollars which take a long time to accumulate. I think Yukes/THQ dropped the ball on this one. What puzzles me about this is that in HCTP they had the Hardcore title which was long gone by the time Shut your Mouth was released but this time around they decided to omit an existing championship.
I do like the dirty/clean aspect because it can sway a match either way. What is strange, however, are the weapons. You only get 4 hits with each weapon then it disappears and you have to go back out and get a new weapon. This doesn't make sense. I have never seen a chair just disappear after 4 hits so why this was put in I don't know.
Another aspect of the game I do like is that if you are to have a manager, he/she will accompany you to the ring and play a big part in your match. If you are about to be beaten you can call for your manager to jump on the apron to distract the referee or you can have them get you a weapon. This is also a realistic part of what we see on t.v.
One of the much talked about features was the ability to fight your way back during the Royal Rumble. This is both good and bad. The good is that if someone tosses you over, you can get back into the ring as long as you have enough left in your bar. The bad is that this also goes for NPC wrestlers which makes for a very long match. I've yet to watch a full Rumble because it takes so blasted long. Another bad point is that I've been in 2 Rumbles and have been eliminated although I had at least 50% on my elimination bar but again, as long as you don't get yourself into that position I'm guessing you can eventually win but so far I find this more of a hindrance.
All in all it's still a good game but if I have to rank it I would have to say that HCTP is still the best in the series. Although the graphics are better here total gameplay is about equal. Do I feel cheated? No, it's still worth the money only because you have new story lines to play with but I have to say that I'm just slightly disappointed in this game. If I have to rank it I'd give it a 7 out of 10.
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