Overall, the gameplay changes that have been instituted in the game make the game both easier to play and improve the flow of the matches to something more reminiscent of an actual wrestling match. Newcomers to the series will find their selves better capable of standing a chance against the higher level difficulty settings and opponents while wrestling purists will the overall experience a lot more reminiscent of the matches they see on television. Hopefully THQ and Yukes will fine-tune this system in next year’s game because they have laid the groundwork for an impressive control system which could finally dethrone the classic Aki-grappling system many wrestling game fans know and love.
In addition to the gameplay tweaks that this year’s game has received, there has also been a healthy dose of customization added the game. I find this particularly amazing considered the series is already known for its in-depth customization options. All of the series staples returns including create-a-superstar, story designer, create a finisher, editable My WWE options, all of which can be shared online with the game’s community on both systems. The game even features an all-new match designer. Any and all options regarding a match can be altered and even saved for future usage, all within the confines of the base match type. For example, you cannot edit pin options in a ladder match as the goal of the match doesn’t take pins into account. However, if you want to make a 60-minute, Iron Man, submissions only, Inferno Match… go right ahead. Players are now able to edit nearly every aspect of their game in order to mold it to their likings. As customizable as the game is as a whole, there is one glaring issue with the games create-a-superstar mode that will surely cause some complaints from the diehard fans: lack of transparency. Transparency is an option that many players who frequent the game’s create-a-superstar mode rely heavily on in order to construct highly accurate depictions of classic characters. The option is used in conjunction with the games, layering system in order to help create custom characters that often rival the original in-game models in terms of their quality… or at least they used to. Thus far, the game seems to lack the ability to make layers and objects transparent to differing degrees, which will limit the ability to achieve some desired effects that many creators rely on. Hopefully, for the sake of the diehard fans, this is something that THQ can address in a future patch of the game because many message boards across the internet are already bursting with complaints regarding the feature’s absence.
Speaking of molding things to your likings, the new WWE Universe Mode allow players to truly create their own wrestling world. This new mode allows players to pretty much run their own WWE promotion. The game’s AI monitors how gamers play the game and the environment within the game changes accordingly; this goes for everything from alliances and feuds, stables, and even championship rankings. Considering that this is the first year for this mode, I think that THQ is off to a great start and this could easily evolve into a full-fledged promotion simulator with a few tweaks in subsequent years. The mode does lack some truly desired flexibility though, such as the ability to put titles up for grabs when and where you want; title matches are held, for the most part, based on the ranking system which is tracked by the game. If you want a certain wrestler to contend for a title, it will be up to you to put them to work in your individual game. You will need to play with them repeatedly and put them up against and over some top tier competition. If you manage to do that, they will surely climb the in-game ranking s and get the opportunity for a title shot at upcoming PPV events on the game’s internal schedule.
All of the online aspects of the previous game(s) return with 2011 including a very welcome new addition: Online Royal Rumble. The online aspect of the game, including the new Royal Rumble, works better than any wrestling game that I have seen previously. There are still some issues that exist with the netcode, but the title continues to get better and better each year. Players are still destined to experience some lag instances and graphical clipping when playing online, but the matches are more than playable and immensely enjoyable. In addition to simply playing online, PlayStation 3 users also get an extra feature that is lacking from the Xbox 360 version which allows them to share some of their created content online through YouTube. Players can directly upload edited highlight reels that the construct from within the game directly to their YouTube account(s). The same can be done with custom designed Titantron videos as well.
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