PSLS On Location – THQ WWE Smackdown vs RAW 2011 Community Event

PlayStation LifeStyle recently had the pleasure of being treated like a King (of the Ring) at a very special WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw community event put on by the good folks at THQ. Not only did we get to attend Summerslam and Monday Night Raw, but we also go to put this year’s installment of WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw in a tightly locked submission. The end result was a well-timed bodyslam leaving us down for the count. Read all about our time with the game, after the jump.

Seeing as how a new edition is released every year, the teams at THQ and Yuke’s do their best to keep things fresh and entertaining. One of the major additions this year is the ‘WWE Universe’ mode that’s replacing the career mode. How important is this new mode? It was the very first change brought up during the official event and the design team was more than willing to talk about it. As the name implies, the game is going to let you, the gamer, talk total control of the digital WWE world as you become the almighty King of the ring. Are you tired of the current champions? Fine! Just go in and make your own Champion. Bored of the storylines? Go and make your own. You have total control to do what you want, when you want, and whenever you want. Believe me WWE fans, you’re going to L-O-V-E this mode. The best part is the fact that no two WWE Universes will be the same, meaning your world will be completely different from your fellow fans.

For fans of the ‘Road to Wrestlemania’ mode, you’ll be happy to hear that you will now be able to access the backstage area of the game. After choosing your ‘Ring Warrior’, exploring backstage will provide you with a ton to see and do. You might run into Randy Orton doing a promo for live TV or hey, why not go and chit-chat with Stephanie McMahon? There is even ‘mini-events’ that will go down. One that was shown was of a worker trying to climb up a truck as his ladder suddenly gave way. The character on screen quickly ran over to the worker and saved his day! Little events like this give the mode personality and will keep you entertained for hour. Then again, one simple mistake can create enemies out of no where. Randy Orton walked up to us, just begging us to hit him in the face. The button prompt appeared on screen…we did the best that we could, but we let the fist fly and Randy promised us that he would get revenge. Uh oh, so much for a safe journey to Wrestlemania. Also..did I mention the time machine we were shown? Yeah, I’ll leave it at that.

Fans of the Hell in the Cell mode have been requesting a re-design for some quite some time now and THQ has finally listened. In the past, the outside of the ring was barely wide enough for the two (or more) of you to battle. That no longer is an issue as the area between the ring and the cage has been increased to close to 10ft so that you can perform any and every type of move you can imagine. This also means easier access to weapons stashed under the ring and steel steps leading to the ring, but one new ‘problem’ is that the cage no longer features a door. Which means that if you want to escape hell, you’re going to have to slam your opponent hard enough into the wall to bust it down! Nothing was more satisfy than finally crashing John Cena through that wall and letting our battle continue on the  top of the ring.

Enough about the new changes, how does the gameplay stack up to last year’s edition? Controls have been made easier, that is for sure. Remember how in the past it has been a pain in the arse to pull off a Wrestler’s finisher? Example: Having to do two kicks to your opponents stomach before you could do Triple H’s Pedigree? Those days are over! All you gotta’ do now is make sure your power meter is full, press triangle, and boom…finisher time!  This made the game much, much easier and it seemed that controls were less clunky and easier to handle. One major improvement is the fact that you can now control the direction of a power move. Instead of the Undertaker automatically slamming an opponent, I was able to control move over to a table and smash him into it. The AI no longer controls what you do, you’re in full control and it made the game that much more enjoyable.

The team also went back into the game and included a brand spanking new ‘dynamic psychics engine’. In the past you had to land a hit direct hit on table to crush your opponent. You can now slam John Cena’s face into the corner of a table and watch it smash into a million little pieces. You can also lay ladders upright against the ropes, C.M. Punk style, run up them, slam your opponent onto another ladder and watch it bend and distort dramatically. Really cool stuff that adds yet another layer of realism to the WWE Smackdown vs RAW series.

As you can see, with the all of the major additions and changes, both THQ and Yuke’s aim to make WWE Smackdown vs RAw 2011 worth every penny this year. The die hard fans out there already reserved their copy of the title as soon as the clock turned January 1, 2010. Fans that might have been disappointed over last year’s lack of DLC and laggy gameplay show definitely give 2011 a shot as DLC has been promised and multiplayer ran silky smooth during our playtest. WWE Smackdown vs RAW 2011 is planned for release on October 26th in the US and October 29 in the UK and the rest of the EU. WWE fans get ready to hours upon hours of your life in the virtual world of WWE once again!

In closing, I’d like to give thanks to a few people. Thanks to Aaron Kaufman, THQ’s Community Manager for the WWE and UFC brands, for putting this event together and inviting PlayStation LifeStyle to help represent the PlayStation gaming community. Second I’d like to thank the THQ Design team for trusting us by giving us the chance to play their game early and actually listening to our feedback (Seriously, they LOVED hearing our feedback). You guys truly treated US like World Champions! Third, I’d like to thank the WWE for giving us access to WWE SummerSlam and not one, but two showings of WWE Monday Night RAW. And last, but not least, thanks to PlayStation LifeStyle for helping me live the dream. So, now that I have that all of out the way, it’s time for you to head out and reserve your copy of WWE Smackdown Vs. Raw 2011 right now or we’ll have to lay the smackdown on your candy asses! What?!?