Tuesday, December 26, 2006

GameFAQs Review - WWE RAW 2 (Xbox)

For quite some time, wrestling (or sports entertainment) has been in existence. Sometimes, it's the hottest thing going on while oftentimes, it's nothing more than an afterthought. The whole real-or-fake question often comes into play even though the business was exposed a few years back. In any case, what is well known is that since the 1980s, there have been a multitude of wrestling-based video games. Some good, some bad, and some strange. In the case of the X-Box, there were a few of them, but were lacking compared to games on other consoles. For this review, I decided to review the one I felt was the best of the bunch on the console.

WWE Raw 2 is the follow-up to the lackluster WWF Raw game that appeared on the X-Box prior. At first glance, it seems like the game has added much needed features and gimmicks to what was essentially a poor barebones package. But is it really deeper than before or is it more of the same?

STORY: Irrelevant. But there is a Season mode which follows the career of your chosen wrestler. It's not much, but it's a step above the first game, which had you competing for various belts, including the Women's Title where you had contenders like Chris Jericho or Stone Cold... or even better, fighting the Big Show on the hunt for the Cruiserweight title. Although to be fair, you still have bisexual champions in this game, but that's a rare occurrence... okay, maybe not that rare. 5/10

GRAPHICS: Graphics look good, but seem to have that cell-shaded look to it. I don't know if that was the intent of the designers, but it's something that pales in comparison to what's on the Smackdown series, which were fairly good during the time. Most of the arena sets and backstage areas are fairly accurately reproduced from the 2002-2003 arena sets. You have a fair amount of clipping when it comes to dueling with bigger wrestlers, but that's to be expected. A fair improvement over the first game, although the cel-shaded look might turn off a few people. 7/10

SOUND: There's no commentary in this game and I'll all for that. I find repetitive commentary and nonsensical wisecracks from the announcers to be annoying on the television show and even moreso when they're in my video game. You have most of the trademark WWE entrance themes and music... or at least the songs they own. The intermission music, in-game music, and other music tracks are serviceable at best, but they seemed ripped from the Smackdown series which uses the same tracks. Apparently, THQ decided to do with sound in their wrestling games what Capcom does with sprites in their fighting games; recycle them. That's okay. It's not annoying, but nothing memorable either. Of course, you can always make your own. More on that later. 7/10

GAMEPLAY: Maybe it's just me, but I felt that I could get into this game much more easily than in the second game. Control in this game tends to be on the finicky side, but is overall an improvement over the first RAW. I have encountered some issues with collisions, but nothing a little adjustment to timing can't fix. If there's only one problem I have with this game, it's that it's hard to determine how healthy your WWE Superstar is, since the gauge present is only a build-up to your finisher. Other than that, it's a passable experience. 6/10

FEATURES: All the standard fare is here. I find that the Create-A-Wrestler has improved somewhat from the first game, but still nowhere near as good as Smackdown's CAW system. Raw's best feature, the Create-An-Entrance mode, is somewhat improved here by being more extensive and it also allows you to take advantage of the X-Box's hard drive by letting you pick your own custom music tracks. Also, you can slightly tweak pre-existing wrestlers in terms of entrance and music in case you want them to be more on par with their more current movesets or just to mess around with them.

All in all, the game seems to be on par with the Smackdown release at the time in terms of its features (can't remember the name - too many of them). All the cage matches, ladder matches, and gameplay modes short of beating the crap out of each other in an Elimination Chamber is featured in this game. It's not the greatest collection of gameplay modes in the world, but compared to Raw 1, it's a heck of a lot better. 7/10

CHALLENGE: I found the AI to be pretty stupid on easy, somewhat competent on Normal, and a bit of an overbearing challenge in Hard. Some people might complain about the difficulty here, but I've got no problem with it. What I do have a problem with, though, is my enemies running interference and attacking my opponent! Either it's a problem with the AI or most of the talent in WWE were taking their stupid pills that year. It's a clear example of a broken AI, even if the matches aren't that flawed. (Some people may look at it differently.) All in all, it's a fair challenge. 7/10

REPLAY VALUE: This usually gets a high score when it comes to a wrestling game. The controls might keep a few people away from the game, but it eventually does get better. Find a few guys to join in and you'll have a good time. Just don't keep those fighting games too far away either. 8/10

OVERALL: WWE Raw 2 is one of the better wrestling games on the X-Box console. That isn't saying much, as there are still some sore spots that prevent the game from being a memorable one. However, considering the options you have on the X-Box (such as the average Legends of Wrestling series, the horrid Backyard Wrestling series, and the abomination known as Wrestlemania 21), you can't go wrong with WWE Raw 2. It's pretty close to being a good game despite a few flaws and it's worth your time. Just don't pay too much for it. 7/10

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