WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2007 - PS2 - Preview
story of a man named “angry,”
He lived his whole life in the ring.
His broken arm is so dangly,
But he swears he can’t feel a thing.
like to be teased,
Kids said he wore a funny mask.
The last fight, he was so pleased,
By a finishing move – his final task.
WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2007 is the sixth or seventh (or later) version in a long-running wrestling franchise from THQ. Fans know the series well, but that’s about to change. No, the developers have not gone and turned the series into another kind of fighting game. But they must have taken a few steps back and thought, “If we use a little of this and a little of that, we might be able to create a better sequel.”
RAW 2007 will introduce players to a newer, faster, and more cinematic wrestling experience. In some cases, the health bars and other game-related icons are not even displayed on the screen. Each wrestler is looking bigger, meaner, and more formidable an opponent, thanks in part to the more cinematic camera angles. The game is big on thrusting the player into the action. Not just the act of performing a move, but also the act of getting close to your wrestler – so close that you can actually feel what’s going on.
RAW 2007 accomplishes this task with more camera angles than you can count. Wrestling games are essentially a part of the fighting genre, and there aren’t any other fighters on the market that have a comparable camera system. When a wrestler dives toward another, the game immediately switches perspectives. It’s not first-person, but close. The wrestlers become the center of attention (as if they weren’t already).
Grapples and other hold moves, flip moves, and virtually anything that has the potential to intensify the excitement can and will be influenced by the dynamic camera. As the focus turns to the specific move, the signs of this being a video game (like your stamina bar) disappear. The only image that remains is the two wrestlers.
The control layout changes, which include new analog controls, were not immediately standout. I did, however, discover and appreciate the increase in wrestler speed. You won’t be sprinting around the ring Mortal Kombat-style, but you won’t be moving at the pace of a Rascal Scooter either. Wrestler movement is a good balance of speed and maneuverability, and this is only the PlayStation 2 version. I can’t wait to see how these control elements and the cinematics are applied to the next-gen iterations on Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3.
There are a lot of graphically-rich titles coming out that are sure to persuade gamers this fall. If that’s to be the case, then let one of ‘em be RAW 2007. These visuals are some of the best you’ll see on the current-gen platforms. The look of each wrestler is very impressive. They match their real-life counterparts in a way that is not usually seen (and not usually considered possible) on PlayStation 2. Even tiny details like sweat – a common feature on next-gen consoles – is slightly visible.
The audience, an element usually neglected in games, is livelier than any I’ve seen in a PS2 sports game. Anyone who stares at the audience for a long period of time will start to pick out the flaws. But quick glances will yield a variety of character appearances and animations. This is vastly superior to the cardboard cutouts found in most current-gen sports games.
All your favorite play modes are back, including an expanded general manager mode. Weapons and environmental damage play a bigger role, though we’ll have to wait for the final version to know just how large of an impact it will have on the game. Thus far it’s playing and looking very impressive, and should have more than what it takes to appease those who picked up RAW 2006.
“Sniff…is that barbecue I smell?”
Entering the ring later this fall, WWE SmackDown vs. RAW 2007 is going to put the smackdown on all other wrestling games – including its own predecessors. Look for it on November 14th.