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WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007 Hands-on (GM Mode, Season Details, Other Stuff)


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#1 EDGE HEAD

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 01:39 PM

October 2, 2006 - If you've been following our SmackDown Countdown over the last three weeks (and based on our visitor count, who hasn't?), then you already know that we've been spending some substantial time with WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007 for both the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360... But other than our daily superstar updates, we haven't been saying much else. Luckily for everyone, THQ has given the go ahead for us to spill the worms so that we can talk a bit more about how things work and how things are different in SVR '07... And there are certainly things to talk about.

Naturally, the most obvious change that longtime players will notice above all else is the change of the control scheme -- it doesn't work the way it used to. Now altered to make use of the analog sticks, the configuration feels a lot less mechanical than it did before -- which is a good thing for an obviously-aging franchise.

he good news is that things are far more responsive than they were when we last told you about the game at E3. Movements via the stick no longer have the delay or outright failure to work that once plagued them, and character collision and fatigue has been tweaked in a much more realistic direction. Despite spending as much time as we have with the title over the last several weeks, however, we have to admit: the movesets do seem more limited under the new control scheme. Because of the sensitivity and completely different move assignments for each character, we seem to be pulling off more chinlocks and snapmares than ever before.

One of the things that takes getting used to (and pay attention to this, because it isn't mentioned in any tutorial) is that picking up your opponent from the mat is no longer handled with a face button. Now, clicking R3 is what grabs their heads and stands them upright -- while holding down and using the L-stick to navigate is how you drag them around. Veterans will certainly find the change odd, but it does seem to work better once you get the hang of it. It's also worth mentioning that the new "unlimited reversal system" works pretty well -- and it's a lot more forgiving with its timing than in past years.

R3 is also the tool to get the user-controlled grappling moves started (click it while grappled to initiate, and then push a direction to determine what type). It's definitely a cool little addition in concept, but we're still not sold on its actual value yet. You see, the prince for using an UC grapple is a large amount of your stamina bar -- and the moves are flashier than they are powerful. Then again, we're still learning the ropes with a number of the game's new mechanics, so it's still too early to pass the grade on it.


Oh, and while we're discussing new mechanics, the "Interactive Fighting Areas" are definitely neat little additions. Throwing someone into a barricade, for example, will send them spilling over it and you can follow them to incur more damage if you like. Once engaged in the IFA, things work just as they do in those prelim videos that have been floating around since the game was announced: players can pull weapons out of the crowd or even signs to help them out. As a face, pulling a sign from a fan can help your momentum out as you cheer along with the crowd; but if you're a heel, you can go ahead and tear that sign up and stomp on it for their own momentum boost.

If you're not worried about momentum and just want to hurt someone, that's cool too. The focus of IFA is doing an extreme amount of damage in a number of different ways anyhow. Trash cans, fire extinguishers, chairs, monitors, speakers, scaffolding, and an assortment of other things that make babies cry can all be used for some easy pain-giving. The company line here is that "if you can see it, you can use it," and so far that's true -- as just about everything we've seen can be used on or against your opponent (with cool special effects to boot).



One area that still runs into problems, though, is the AI. Admittedly, we've played every SmackDown since time began, so maybe we're a little on the advanced side... but even so, the level of opposition that the CPU provides on all but Legend difficulty will be a pushover for series pros (and even then, it isn't the hardest challenge in the world by any means). Obviously, and as with past SmackDowns, the real fun here is playing with other people -- but since we haven't been able to give online head-to-head a go yet, the CPU and "Player #2" are the only folks we've been messing with so far.

The good news is that, even if you're playing alone, there's a great amount of content here. Most of the familiar match types have come back from last year and improved versions of tables, TLC, and the addition of Money in the Bank contests are all good fixes. However, fans of the diva specialty matches from earlier seasons might be disappointed to learn that there isn't such a match this year -- that means no Bran and Panties and no fulfill your fantasy -- or at least, it isn't anywhere that we've seen in the menus or unlockables section.



There are some slight alterations to other match types as well. Buried Alive, for example, has slightly-better collision on the dirt mound (you'll still get the mysterious floating wrestlers, but not as often), and the interactive areas add some spice to old favorites (particularly "Parking Lot Brawl" which now as a fire truck and a sewage tanker).

The "Locker Room" feature was a big hit with fans last year, and THQ has made a number of new changes to it for SVR 2007. The first and most noticeable amendment, of course, is that it's no longer setup with a static and lifeless display. Now the locker room is full 3D -- just like the old season navigation modes used to be in earlier PS2 SmackDowns. There are three rooms to explore in all, and they include an upstairs belt case and "Wall of Fame" area to a side area dedicated to character customization.

Pressing start at any time while in the locker room brings up the customization screen, and allows players to modify almost every area of their abode. Whether a user wants to change how their drink bar looks (which is where they can check their challenges) or alter the type of table they use to house WWE magazines (which provide Superstar bios that include everything from their height and weight to notable championships and more), the choice is entirely theirs.

And by choice, we mean it. There are 14 customizable hub aspects in total: Room Lighting, Wall Pattern, Floor Pattern, Stairs, Amusement Corner, Bar Corner, Shelves, Desk, Large Furniture, Rug, Corner Items, Wall Decorations, Banner, and Collectibles. Of course, each of these categories has further sub-groups within them, and that's where your creativity will really come in.


Speaking of which, the number of options within each customization set is huge. Take lighting for example -- not only can a user choose to change the main lighting scheme, its color, and what sort of fixtures are used to illustrate it, but they can also unlock a number of hidden items that expands their number of choices. This sort of choice bleeds into the other customizable areas as well; you can change your floor from concrete to metal, your walls from plaster to wood, or you can even change what kind of handrail your stairs have. Couches, coffee tables, and even your belt case can be manipulated in just about every way you'd hope.

But having a cool locker room means more than just looking cool. Like last year, it serves an actual purpose for your loaded profile. In addition to the Wall of Fame, Challenge Mode, belt case, and WWE magazines highlighted above, for example, players can also access a loading screen manager (32 screens in total), customize CAW attributes, access profile stats, and purchase new bonuses at the WWE shopzone. The shopzone is much easier to navigate this year too, and provides a great one-stop spot to pick up new legends, new moves, and cool championship belt alternatives (like the Smoking Skull and NWO variants). The locker room also grants admission to "The Desk" which is an invaluable tool for a variety of Season Mode reasons.

And what about Season Mode? How does it work and how is it different? Well, it begins rather simply -- after choosing an existing or created superstar from the menu screen, the game shifts to your locker room desktop. Here you can check your messages and get info from your general manager. For the purposes of our play-through, we used Bobby Lashley and began with two messages from Teddy Long. The first was a welcome note and a promise that if we won four matches in a row that we'd get a shot at the title; the second letter was an assignment to play special guest referee in the main event for that evening's program (Benoit vs. Undertaker).

Before heading off into SmackDown, a number of other options are available as well. Checking the calendar, for example, allows users to adjust season mode options (difficulty, subtitles, and email reminders) and clicking on desktop PC brings up WWE.com. Here, we have all the same options that the locker room normally brings with two exceptions: one, we can save our season mode progress from there, and two, we can click on an article that sets up the current storylines (in this case, the Benoit vs. Undertaker match-up). Once out of the locker room, the view shifts to a backstage look at the arena and we're once again given the option of saving, changing our difficulty setting, going back to where we came from, or starting our week.

Starting the week begins the pre-match screen which looks pretty much identical to previous years (rules are shown, you can choose to play, to skip, or whatever). One new option, however, is the new "Multiplayer" feature. By selecting this button, gamers can choose to play whichever character they want (ie: we can choose to play as Undertaker instead of Lashley if we don't feel like refereeing). Even better, a second player can hop in to play as one of the two remaining characters too -- it's a nice touch to say the least.

Personally, we've always felt that SmackDown's "special referee" option was always boring -- so we just went ahead and skipped it. Even so, when we shifted back to our locker room we had a voicemail from Teddy Long (yep, the real guy) telling us that the Undertaker was pissed at us for not calling the match down the middle. Strangely, The Undertaker won his match -- so without the benefit of a cutscene to tell us what happened (we didn't get one when skipping) or understanding why he'd be angry at us for winning, we found ourselves in a quick rivalry with the Deadman (luckily, clicking on WWE.com explains what happened when we checked it out... cool!).

You can bet that our very next match was against "Mr. Old-school" himself and we have to admit, that the commentary as the match began was pretty impressive. Tazz and Cole completely recalled the events of the special referee bout -- they talked about how Undertaker was mad about it, who his opponent was, and what happened to get us to this point; and all this was during his intro as he walked to the ring (that's right, no special videos -- they talked normally just as they do on television). Sadly, there was a long silence after they finished their talk (no small talk), but the commentating duo did pick things up again once our boy Lashley stepped out on the ramp.

Following a two-Dominator victory (which isn't reanimated, by the way), Lashley and Undertaker are shown backstage arguing (with full voice-over); just as Taker is about to do something crazy (involving lights and hand-raising), Benoit enters the mix and before you know it, all three guys are yelling at each other. As you might have guessed, the storytelling elements are much better this year and play out more like they do on television. For proof, just take that backstage stare-down into account, and the following in-ring trash talking that results in a Lashley vs. Benoit match the week after, and a cool stipulation match that allows the winner of a three-way dance to pick their main event at No Mercy.

After winning our match at No Mercy, Season Mode's whole purpose became much clearer -- it's how you unlock the game's hidden goodies. In this case, we gained access to the "Diva Package" in the WWE Shopzone and added a No Mercy trophy to our Locker Room. Of course, Season Mode is also a great place to earn money and experience points (which can be used to buy more stuff or upgrade created characters respectively).

On the subject of upgrades, General Manager Mode has received one this year too. A good portion of last year's features and guidelines are back, of course, and there's still a 20-wrestler limit per show, the ability to use existing or user-drafted rosters, a salary cap, the option to set contract lengths, so on and so forth. The interface, however, is all-new. Vince McMahon's greeting, for example, is now voiced over by Vince himself and is delivered via cell-phone instead of the stiff-looking menus of last year.

Setting up events on your calendar is as easy as can be too. Just hop right into "Schedule," select the day for your show on the interactive map, and book your event (up to six matches). Figuring out to book your matches is much easier as well, and this is tanks to a brand new tab system that allows you to navigate seamlessly between titleholders and other superstars. Each wrestler has a much more informative character card too -- morale, titled held, last title match, number of weeks not used, and even specialty match (it's Hell in the Cell for Undertaker, surprised?). This sort of setup is definitely good news for those of us who were into the mode last year, since we're no longer forced to keep hopping back and forth between menus to figure out how to get around.

Another nice touch is that users can now hire writers for their show to supplement their roster, and each one is good for about three storylines each. These storylines can be specific too -- for cruisers, divas, legends, or whatever. Just like in real life, the better your writer is, the better your storylines will be (and no, names like Russo or McMahon aren't on the list). This new story system (which uses a five-star system to show how valuable it is) is an invaluable tool for pushing rivalries forward and affects what kind of match popularity rivals can produce. What's extra cool about this is that up to four wrestlers can be involved in a rivalry at a time and you can actually set cut-off dates as to when that rivalry should end.

If you visit WWE.com on a regular basis, you're probably familiar with the "Power 25" (an ongoing ranking of WWE superstars that are ranked by wins, opponent quality, momentum, and in-ring dominance). That same list has now been incorporated into General Manager Mode as well, and can be used to help figure who your mid-carders and jobbers should be, who deserves a title shot, and who is doing well on a rival show (perhaps a trade is in order?).

Finally, General Manager Mode also includes the addition of Velocity and HEAT. Half the size of a RAW or SmackDown card, these sideshows are used to build up superstar popularity independent of your day-to-day operations of the main programs. Ideally, this is a good place to put your created characters -- guys who start out at the bottom of the ladder every time -- and it won't cost you any rating points to do so. Don't expect to use many other superstars for HEAT and Velocity, though; once a character hits a popularity rating of 70, they're too big to headline it.

As with most wrestling games, there's still plenty to explore in WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2007, but most of it lays in the details. What moves are reanimated, what tweaks have been made here and there, and how is create-a-wrestler looking? Good questions, all of them, but they're meant to be answered on another day (following considerably more play time). Hoo-Rah!


and some 360 screens :P

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ALL INFO BY IGN.COM

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#2 20people

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 01:49 PM

awsome pics thanks for the info and lets us know when u get some ps2 pics


Thanks again

#3 PeMar

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 01:52 PM

Thx for sharing!

Great Pics!

#4 Cyclonus89

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 01:53 PM

Nice find!!!! This is Kool!!!!!! And Kooool is Gooooood!!!!!

#5 .Revolve

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 01:54 PM

The greatest info that IGN ever told us.Nice find!I was reading it for about 30 minutes.

#6 RAWisGOD

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 01:55 PM

good, but look at sum of the guys faces, soooo not cool

#7 ThreeG

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 01:55 PM

YAY. Velocity is in the game still!

Im a huge fan of GM Mode, so this news is great.

#8 IrishSoldier #1

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 01:56 PM

didnt read the part about season. dont wanna spoil it. the gm mode sounds fu**in incredible. thanks so much for the info. may your life be blessed with wealth.

#9 theclashrocker

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 01:59 PM

I think im the only one who likes the faces. for the most part, they look good. Ive played the 360 demo and am happy with the graphics

#10 .Revolve

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 02:01 PM

Again I am lucky to be getting it in PS2.
Well the only wicked superstar in Xbox 360 is Orton.
GM Mode is getting better!Wonder if they put draft lottery?(I think they put it in 06)

#11 RAWisGOD

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 02:03 PM

Again I am lucky to be getting it in PS2.
Well the only wicked superstar in Xbox 360 is Orton.
GM Mode is getting better!Wonder if they put draft lottery?(I think they put it in 06)

i agree with the 360 Orton, probly the best looking on 360, most the guys look better on the PS2 than 360

Edited by ProtoTyp, 02 October 2006 - 02:04 PM.


#12 IrishSoldier #1

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 02:06 PM

the top wrestlers like batista, cena, etc. look great on the 360, but some others like jbl, hardcore holly and shelton benjamin have really bad faces. the main problem is the fat cheeks.

#13 RAWisGOD

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 02:07 PM

the top wrestlers like batista, cena, etc. look great on the 360, but some others like jbl, hardcore holly and shelton benjamin have really bad faces. the main problem is the fat cheeks.

take a look at the Murdoch Cena side shots and Edge pics at the top, horrific!!! just nasty

#14 .Revolve

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 02:08 PM

Look at Cena at the second pic.Too dramatic!
Trevor looks real stout there!

#15 theclashrocker

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 02:23 PM

Look at Cena at the second pic.Too dramatic!
Trevor looks real stout there!


Hmm, like WWE wrestlers dont over act or are too dramatic...

#16 RAWisGOD

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 02:24 PM

^^^^lol

#17 ThreeG

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 02:29 PM

http://xbox360media....02054631152.jpg

haha a man is holding up "MARRY ME RKO" XD

#18 20people

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 02:30 PM

I think this will be the best GM and season mode ever. if this is this good just wait till 08 it will f***** great

#19 RAWisGOD

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 02:33 PM

I think this will be the best GM and season mode ever. if this is this good just wait till 08 it will f***** great

i hate to break it to ya, but THQ stated this is almost definetly the last Smackdown game

#20 ThreeG

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Posted 02 October 2006 - 02:34 PM

No they didnt. Infact they said "SVR08 will be on the PS3 also".

THQ signed a 10 year deal back in 2000 or something.