WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2007 Reader Review
One of the most respected and renowned wrestling franchises of all time makes its début on the next-gen systems. So how does SVR '07 hold up on its own?
Veterans of SVR 06 should feel right at home with THQ's latest offering. However, THQ have tried to "spice up" things, but changing the control scheme a little bit. Instead of putting grapples on the face buttons, now they are on the right analogue stick. A quick flick of the right analogue sticks performs a quick grapple (which are tougher to counter but do little damage). A flick of the stick with the RB pressed exerts a strong grapple (easier to counter, but do more damage).
Personally, I found this control scheme quite frustrating and tough to get used to, no matter how many times THQ tries to convince us otherwise. So best resort to control scheme D, and welcome back the good ol' control system which was perfect in every way.
In terms of innovation, THQ have made a decent enough effort to entice the players into having a thrilling new experience, but once these limited new features rub off, you are left with the same product. Basically, you can now execute Control moves. After hooking up your unfortunate opponent in a strong grapple, a click of the right analogue stick will execute a control move (for e.g. Undertaker will lift up the opponent in a chokeslam position). Then, you can walk around the ring, or inflict pain in 2-3 different ways (including throwing your opponent over the top rope!!). Of course, these moves come with the downside of massive stamina usage, so you cant use them very often. Strangely though, one would have thought that these moves would inflict a lot of damage, but they don't.
Another nice feature THQ have added (and probably the best) is the interactive grapples. You can now drag your opponent (once in a strong grapple) to any of the numerous hotspots around the arena, and inflict some pain using the environment. Dragging them to the turnbuckles initiates the 10 punch move, to the ropes puts your unfortunate opponent on the ropes in a helpless position (hint: shattered dreams) and so on. You can now also fight "in the crowd", in a way, basically by taking the fight over the security barrier (into another security barrier). Once again, this area is filled with hotspots, offering plenty of pain inflicting weapons and environment.
For some bizzare reason, there are only 2 backstage areas now, a bar and a parking lot. To be honest, I didn't find them much fun, and the fights in the parking lot specially get repetitive very soon. The bar can be more fun, with some nice hotspots there.
One area THQ need to seriously address is the lengthy character animations, which cannot be interrupted either. This becomes even more apparent when playing on harder difficulties. Once, my superstar was down on the mat, and could not get back his feet for 5 minutes straight, because of the long animations which allow the other player (in my case the CPU) to do more and more moves on you. Not only that, all the damage your opponent inflicts on you will undoubtedly do lots of damage, and many times, when you finally end up on you feet, your superstar has at least one red zone damage.
The counter system, although works well in most cases, seems a step back from SVR06. It still works in the same principle basically (LT to reverse strikes, RT to reverse grapples), but for some reason is not effective. Also, it seems like all superstars counter with same efficiency. Surely, big guys like Khali and Undertaker don't match the countering ability of say Angle or Benoit or even Rey Mysterio, but that's not the case in the game. This upsets the superstar balance, and there isn't enough initiative to play as one of these faster counter effective superstars instead of big powerhouse ones (the only apparent difference is in speed, and a bit in power). The weight system is back too, but is seriously flawed. A light superstar still can't pick up a larger one, which is good, but some animations which do the same are allowed. So one second you are unable to lift the great Khali for a body slam, next second you can easily pick him up and do a massive backbreaker.
Easily the most flawed and annoying experience of this offering, sound is at best turned off. The commentary is nothing short of rubbish, with the same dialogues being repeated over and over again. The commentators rush the moves even before they have begun (JR yells "What a spear, what a spear!!!" even as Edge is preparing for his attack). And for some reason the commentators keep applauding the counter, even when there isn't any. The commentary is simply not related to the gameplay at all, and seems like some random sentences are being put together. Even if you do a massive batsita bomb and pin your opponent, Taz and Cole are talking about RAW being inferior. Pufff !!! On the positive side though, all superstars lend their voices, so there is some level of involvement and authenticity in the story mode.
This is the main area where the game draws strength from on the 360. The character models are accurate and very detailed, although some of them are plain rubbish. They all seem to be built the same way. When exactly did William Regal get a 6-pack? And Why does Chris Masters physique look the same as the BoogeyMans?
The lighting effects are amazing, and the sweat system and blood system adds a nice touch. Your superstar now sweats (apparently in real-time), and the longer you bleed, the more blood is spilled on your chest and all over the floor.
Not really a significant step forward from SVR06, SVR07 has very little to offer for the next-gen. The roster seems a bit dated, commentary is plain rubbish and long character animations are extremely frustrating. But even then, SVR remains one of the better wrestling franchises out there, but seems now like that's only because of a lack of competition.
Gameplay: 8/10 Graphics: 8/10 Sound : 6/10
7 / 10