Every year, August rolls by and people think that the current year's version of Madden NFL Football is the biggest game of the year. Wrestling fans, I myself included would be inclined to disagree with those people. Because every year for the past seven years, in November when Yukes and their publisher THQ release the latest iteration of the Smackdown series...To wrestling fans, this is our Madden.
As well, with every year of another Smackdown game being released marks another year of great coverage by us at Gamingring.com, this year is no different as the coverage for WWE Smackdown vs. Raw 2007 is about to start full force this week for the thousands of people who visit our site each day.
I wanted to give everyone here my thoughts on the game as I have played it a good bit for the first time today. Let me tell you Smackdown fans, you will not be dissapointed. The first time you load up the game you will be asked if you want to watch some video tutorials on the new controls on the Smackdown engine. Take my advice people, you are going to want to watch it all and study it very carefuly. This game, while having four different sets of control (Including old school controls for you guys that just can't accept change.) you are going to want to get familiar with the standard set of the controls to give you the upmost control of your Smackdown experience this year.
One of the first things I had to get used to was the way you moved your character. Gone are the days of the d-pad on standard controls, you will now be controling your wrestlers movements with the left analog stick. All of your taunts have been moved to the four directions on your d-pad. Which at first I thought would be horrible but the more I played around with it, the more I enjoyed it. In some of my later matches I switched to the second controls which basically keeps the new controls set up, but allows you to move with the d-pad and taunt with the left analog stick. At first I was really happy, but as the match went along...I found myself going back to the left analog stick to try and move my character. It actually grows on you quite nicely after awhile.
The way the wrestlers move this year and perform grapples and reversals also seem to be streaming quite well too. The reversal system almost seems like a great way to utilize a chain wrestling mechanic. As you could go to having your opponent in the armbar and when you go to twist his arm with the analog stick they can reverse it to a side headlock and so on. The strong grapple moves that you actually control yourself are alot of fun, once you execute a strong grapple (R1 button and a direction on the right analog stick) you press down on the right analog stick again and depending on what grapple state you have him in you will do a certain controllable move. Like a stalling suplex, a choke slam, a spinning neck breaker, and so on. Some wrestlers i've seen differ in these moves to make each wrestler feel unique to the person who is controlling him. Along with the strong grapple interactive moves there are newly featured "hot spots" in the game this year as well.
The interactive hot spots are not only entertaining but painfully easy to use as well. From a strong grapple Instead of slapping a direction to perform a move just drag your opponent to one of the many hot spots in the ring, around ringside, or even out in the crowd area to inflict more damage on your opponent. As the grapple takes your character right into the hotspot in an almost seemless transition. It is very nicely done.
Also this year in addition to the hotspots it looks like THQ decided to pay alot of attention to some of the minor details to make the game even more realistic. I don't know about you all, but I always found it funny walking ontop of the commentators table with all the TVs and the black angle piece still intact. Well you won't have to worry about that this year. If you walk over to the commentators table and stand beside it, a simple press of the action button (x) will cause your wrestler to grab the black part of the comentators table, throw it off and then proceed to rip out the monitors as well before you decide to make that climb onto the table to inflict some serious damage on your opponent.
The graphics this year, from what I have seen so far I truely believe that THQ and Yukes are pushing the PS2 to the absolute limit of what it is capable of, and it shows. All the character models this year look fantastic, although some seem to have been re used from last year (ie: Triple H's torso...He's not that buff anymore people!) for the most part it seems THQ has taken an extreme effort to make sure all the characters look fantastic and updated. Attention to detail on certain superstars is also refreshing to see. Where as Booker T comes out with the World Heavyweight Championship around his waist...Johnny Nitro comes to the ring with the Intercontinental Championship hanging from his pants! Just little details like that will take this game a very long way in terms of enjoyment and replay value to the most hardcore WWE fans.
And last but not least, I would just like to touch on the roster that has now "officially" been confirmed by IGN today. I don't know what everyone's opinion on the roster is but in my opinion I truely believe this is the best and most up to date rosters that THQ has ever had in a WWE Smackdown game. I would like to take this opportunity and congratulate THQ on in what my opinion is indeed the greatest roster they've ever done.
This is just the beginning of our coverage folks! Look for videos...more hands on impressions...and lots more coming this week! As soon as videos are approved by THQ they will be up for your viewing pleasure. Thanks for reading and stay tuned for more coverage of Smackdown vs Raw 2007 right here at Gamingring.com.