RELEASED: November 2006
AVAILABLE ON: PS2, PSP, X360
As I have mentioned a few times before, I've had every WWE game released under the title SmackDown vs. Raw. Now I have to jump from Here Comes the Pain to SvR 2007, 'cause my copies of the two previous games both broke down - I don't rightly remember why, but they did. Also, I sold SvR 2009, so there won't be a review of that one either. The first SmackDown vs. Raw game was the worst game in the whole SmackDown! series in my opinion, the fact that it was the first sequel to a masterpiece like Here Comes the Pain only made things worse. The 2006 edition, on the other hand, was one of the best games in the series, second only to Here Comes the Pain - an exciting title that brought in perhaps the best feature in a wrestling game ever, the General Manager Mode - which has since been removed, 'cause Yuke's couldn't figure out how to improve it any further. Where does WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007 stand, then? Well, it brings in a whole new control scheme, which is incredibly difficult to learn, but fully functional; a hotspot system that allows you to drag your opponent's ass all over the arena and dish out some punishment like never before; great new qualities, no doubt, but overall, it feels like we're playing just an update to 2006... and the Season Mode sucks.
Tonight's match will be to the death
The graphics are excellent. Too excellent, because the framerate occasionally sucks very hairy ass. For example, creating a superstar is extremely slow. It takes the longest time for the PS2 to load the smallest changes you make to your wrestler's appearance, and consequently the loading times in general, especially when you're playing as your own superstar, are incredibly long. The game is rich with audiovisual glitches, more and less disturbing ones.
|He's back. A little more buffed than I could ever |
dream to be, though. The body form editor has
some sort of limit to how skinny your male
character can be without looking ridiculous.
There are 51 superstars on the standard roster. To make especially the GM Mode as enjoyable as possible, it's very even between Divas, tag teams, main eventers, show openers and mid-carders. As per usual, there's a handful of Legends and essential NPC's. I don't remember Vince McMahon ever even making an appearance in this game, but the hottest model of Stephanie ever, and Shane (billed as a WWE Legend) are here to represent the McMahon family. The Legend roster has a total of 16 names, including the "three faces of Foley" - Mick Foley as himself is a part of the standard roster - the late trio of Eddie Guerrero, Bam Bam Bigelow and Mr. Perfect, Hulk Hogan (only one incarnation this time around), the original Hart Foundation (Bret "The Hitman" Hart and Jim "The Anvil" Neidhart), and the usual pairing of Stone Cold Steve Austin and The Rock. Just try to make a WWE game without them, and watch the shit pour. Oh, we have a lot of superstars here - the roster's my favourite part of the game. Too bad it's so tiresome to complete.
Don't get me wrong, I loved the game when it came out, but now that some time has passed, I find myself missing WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2006, and regarding this game as just a fundamental update to its predecessor, not really an amazing milestone of virtual wrestling in itself. The new control scheme, like I said, is absolute hell to learn, and actually it's absolute hell to return to after getting reacquainted with the old school controls. In other words, I had to learn it again to do this review, I've grown so accustomed to the Here Comes the Pain controls during the last week. However, when you finally learn all there is to the new analog control system, you will find it awesome. It's comfortable, and makes the gameplay experience more authentic than ever before. So, I have absolutely nothing to complain about when it comes to the control system. I still don't like the stamina meter, I think it's all but distracting, and I also think the momentum meter goes up way too fast. You can take the beating of a lifetime in under one minute if you're unlucky, regardless who you play as. I played as Triple H, and I made the deathly mistake of immediately changing the difficulty to Legend, without any sort of warm-ups. I got so pussy-whipped in my first match... I don't remember the last time I lost a standard match in this game.
The analog control system introduces a new sub-feature called Ultimate Control, which almost directly relates to interactive hotspots. Ultimate Control moves allow you to improvise a little. For example, if you manage to lock your opponent up in a DDT-ready position, you can decide whether to do a standard DDT, a reverse DDT, or ditch DDT altogether and lift your opponent up for a fatal suplex. Even when he's in the suplex position, you can torture him in the air for a while and let all the blood in his body run up to his head before finally slamming him to the mat. Cool. But not quite as cool as the interactive hotspot system, which is especially essential during Last Man Standing matches or other bouts that don't have any rules at all. Fancy bashing your opponent's head into steel steps instead of simply beating him around with a set? Want to strangle him with a power cord taken from an announcer's table before Pedigreeing him through the table itself? Want to go one step further and throw him into the crowd, then take some cripple audience member's crutch and stick it up your opponent's ass? It's all possible, thanks to the ultra-cool hotspot system. As you can see, I love the controls in this game, as hard as they are to learn. I love the new subtleties 2007 brought along. I pretty much love the most important gameplay features - the controls and the authenticity of the matches themselves. However, I'm very disappointed in two of the game's most prominent game modes.
|Take a good, last look at perhaps the greatest |
technical wrestler of all time. We miss you, Chris,
no matter what you did. Rest in peace.
I first started off using my created character, 'cause as always, the Season Mode is optimized to be played through as one - as ridiculous as the storylines might get, your character is the only one that has no existing background, so the storylines are always believable on some level. However, after my first match, I figured that developing my own character to the fullest all over again would be too damn slow and time-consuming - it would take me weeks to get this review online, so I decided to remain on the Raw branch, but switch to Triple H. Well, I got thrown in the very same storyline. The Big Show is targeted by a small group of heel cruisers and mid-carders, and they force your character to be a part of their posse, or else. Well, as Triple H, the King of Kings, the Cerebral Assassin, I find it pretty damn ridiculous to join forces with Carlito, Chavo and Daivari, so I decide to fuck 'em good and join forces with the giant instead. Well, suddenly Carlito is sending me threats via voicemail and telling me how I just made the biggest mistake of my career and how his group of degenerates is going to kill me. YEAH, RIGHT! This is how the Season Mode is. It's ridiculous. It makes no note of who you are, the only thing you can do to change each brand's storyline is being the champion from the beginning. At WrestleMania, I have an Ultimate Submission match against Kurt Angle, which is cool and all, but it's the main event and its only purpose is to stop Stephanie McMahon's pilgrimage of cleaning up Raw from filth like "skanky" Divas strutting their stuff on a weekly basis. About the most lame WrestleMania main event ever - even lamer than Edge vs. Alberto del Rio or John Cena vs. The Miz, two matches that are coming up this year. I miss the old days, when all storylines were recycled from actual programming. It really feels like the writers didn't give a rat's ass how die-hard wrestling fans would react to these sucky and totally non-contextual plotlines. Did it really matter? Once again, you need to see them through, as ridiculous as they are, to be able to unlock everything.
The 3D locker room is still fully customizable to your liking, and Challenge Mode returns with some extremely tough challenges from the very beginning, including recreations of classic matches, as well as some dream pits. Let's see now - in January 2006, Rey Mysterio entered the Royal Rumble and won it. Although he was the definite underdog due to his small size, it was obvious he was going to win the World Heavyweight Championship - just a few months back, his dear friend and a hero to all of us true wrestling fans, Eddie Guerrero, passed away. Randy Orton defeated him for the WrestleMania main event at No Way Out, but Mysterio regained his championship opportunity and the match was changed into a triple threat match between Mysterio, Orton and reigning champion Kurt Angle. Mysterio did win the match. Well, that's your first challenge right there: repeat Rey Mysterio's success in an already difficult match that has two guys in it who Mysterio can't even lift up. What else? Defeat the Brothers of Destruction in a tornado tag match. Shouldn't be too hard, right? Well it is, since you have to use the Mexicools to do it. "M vs. N & M"? Joey Mercury, in a handicap match against Johnny Nitro and Melina Perez. Believe me, this is just one handicap match that has "scream murder" written all over it - once you take on the Legendary Challenges, get ready to enter Mick Foley's schizophrenic mind and fight off all of his three demons: Mankind, Dude Love and Cactus Jack, in a 3-on-1 handicap match. Fun. Seriously, the challenges are fun - but insane.
|Just watched their classic match at WrestleMania |
13, with Ken Shamrock as the special ref. Amazing,
|Cena's gonna get a whole lot of thuganomics |
speared right out of him, yes siree. I always
rooted for Edge, even during his time as a
Depending on how much of a wrestling fan you are, WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007 will keep your hands full for the longest while. The Challenge Mode is merciless in its difficulty, and I don't believe anyone would quit playing the game before clashing through the GM Mode just once. The Season Mode's a bit tough, but it really makes no difference if you win or lose regular matches, and you can change the difficulty level at any time without any fashion of punishment. Unlocking everything in the game is more difficult than ever before, since doing that requires you to conquer each and every challenge in the game, beat the GM Mode, and play through one season on both brands. Oh, it packs a lot all right. Again, not much more than WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2006, though.
It has wholly new, great controls, which partly affect incredibly real gameplay and atmosphere, and which have huge, different positive effects on special match types such as cage matches and the Royal Rumble. However, the arguable main mode of the game is identical to its previous incarnation, and the Season Mode is simply uninteresting, boring, and ridiculous to boot; it doesn't even have one single storyline that would make me jump up and down in my seat out of pure excitement. Not even the storylines that have Legends in them - available for certain superstars only, for some odd reason. WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007 is a great game from all the most important angles, but as a whole experience and a successor to a couple of the most revolutionary titles in the wrestling genre, it fails to leave a permanent, truly memorable mark.
GRAPHICS : 8.8
SOUND : 7.9
PLAYABILITY : 8.0
LIFESPAN : 8.5
CONCLUSION : 8.1
GameRankings: 78.74% (PS2), 80.56% (PSP), 80.52% (X360)
The last game to feature Chris Benoit, who died on June 24th, 2007. He was planned to be brought back posthumously as a WWE Legend like Eddie Guerrero in this game, but due to the obvious controversy surrounding his death (double homicide/suicide), the plan was scrapped in an early stage of the next game's production. Bam Bam Bigelow, one of the WWE Legends in this game, passed away on January 19th, 2007 - a few months after the game's release - as a result of a drug overdose.