2 Reviews

Smackdown vs RAW 2010

First verdict on the new season

Wrestling fans, let us introduce Alex 'The Crimson Pontificator' Dale, the greatest WWE Superstar never to have graced the ring. A humble journalist by day, come nightfall he's a wrestling superhero who crushes villian's skulls to tight deadlines.

Review supplied by GamesMaster magazine

He's got the intensity of Stone Cold Steve Austin, the wit of The Rock, is more attractive to women than two sprays of Lynx Africa and can spit a mouthful of Evian across distances Triple-H can only dream of. He even has the gall to wrestle in lemon-yellow leggings and a 'Take That' T-shirt, so we know for a fact he's double-hard.

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We tell you, grap fans, if Gamesmaster hadn't stepped in to offer a lifetime of riches in exchange for a few video game reviews, he'd be slapping the mouths of chancers such as John Cena and Batista as we speak. Yup, that's why he didn't make it as a professional wrestler. Nothing at all to do with that incident where it took him six months to escape a paper bag prison.

Tale of the Tape
Thanks to Smackdown Vs Raw 2010, your dream persona has the chance to finally flex its way into the annuls of history. Oh, we've had Create-A-Wrestlers before - a decade's worth of Stone Cold Stunned teachers and bosses pay testament to that - but never to any real end. We've been able to play entire story modes with custom bonebenders before, it's true, but they've always been catch-all dramas that play out the same regardless of whether you've picked out Shelton Benjamin or a 7"6 home-made monstrosity wearing a miniskirt and a set of Road Warriors shoulder pads.

But now, thanks to the addictive Story Designer mode, the tale of your ascent from a weakling who can't open a packet of Fruit Pastilles without tearing a bicep muscle to wrestling champion can be chronicled for the ages. It's a prospect that should get any WWE fan salivating.

The possibilities aren't limitless. Our attempts to get Big Show to present John Cena (who he's been mean to all summer) with a bouquet of flowers was met with a barrage of error messages. But fans with an ounce of creativity in their bones will find themselves in their element. Custom storylines can last only one night or up to two years, depending on your preference, and putting it all together couldn't be easier. You select a date and a venue, then choose whether to have a 'moment', a match or a mixture of the both.

'Moments' are things like backstage segments or in-ring interviews - you decide upon a location, select the personalities to be present (either from the roster, or from up to 30 custom stars) and then the theme (an in-ring interview, post-match beatdowns, contract signings, all sorts of things, really). With the skeleton of the scene in place, you can start painting on some skin. Camera angles can be tinkered around with to the minutest detail.

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Character expressions and motion can be fiddled around with, too. And dialogue can be inserted manually using the in-game keyboard. There's a profanity filter, and of course your lines are delivered in subtitles, but otherwise the level of freedom is startling. Within minutes, and without really knowing what we were doing, we'd managed to concoct a semi-coherent storyline where Shane McMahon sent out hired goons Jack Swagger and Dolph Ziggler to reclaim his bottle of Just For Men from that jovial japester Triple-H.

You're not limited to just telling one person's tale, either - you can jump up and down the roster as you deem necessary. It's going to prove incredibly popular with the fanbase, not least because you can upload your storylines onto THQ's servers for fellow fans to download. PS3 owners can go one better by directly sticking their highlights onto YouTube.

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