WWE RAW 2 Xbox Review
Publisher – THQ Developer – Anchor Inc Genre – Fighting, Wrestling Players – 1-4 Age Rating – 16+ Other console/handheld formats – N/A
The original Raw was a complete disaster in my eyes, what made it even worse is the fact that there was much better competition on the other two consoles. In comparison Raw liked to play a slower more methodical approach, whist the others ran in super fast forward and were simply more enjoyable to play. The sequel comes to the ring with a lot of improvements, but also returns with the plodding simulation elements.
Incidentally Raw 2 is another massive let down with a whole lot of wasted potential. The engine is horribly sluggish, and wrestlers resemble a hoard of decrepit old age pensioners getting it on in the ring, rather then the fast and fluid grapplers of this present day. The animation at such a slow speed doesn’t really help the cause and there are times when your superstar looks like he/she is floating or a bone breaks mid-move and the pace is slowed. Furthermore the AI is appalling with rivals interrupting your matches and taking their frustrations out on your opponents, although that is much to your own delight of course.
The momentum aspect is a fantastic core to the engine, almost capturing the essence of how the WWE play it out to the audience. This time there is only one meter present for each of the competitors, with momentum rising after a nice steady attack pattern. When the meter is blinking red you are then able to pull out your finisher, what should guarantee a pin fall after at least lashing out plenty of damage on your opponent, like the original it’s not the case here.
Finishing moves are still inept at gaining you the 1-2-3-pin fall, although opponents now seem to be easier affected by these moves. With less reliance on finishers you may find yourself playing a technical game and making a wrestler submit when their limbs are bent in totally unnatural ways. This almost rules out the finishers, as a submission will see to a more abrupt match ending.
At least there is a season to speak of this time, sadly whilst we are crying out for speech on the likes of the SmackDown series, Raw 2 is so yesterday and has even wavered text, leaving us with wordless scenes. We can’t deny Anchor their medals for having a bloody good try at incorporating a season mode that allows you to feud with any of the wrestling guys you hate on TV, although without the text the drama is almost absent.
At the start of every show you are given the opportunity to survey your upcoming schedule, change options and single out the guys you want to pummel into paper mashie. If you fancy striking a rivalry up then enter the locker room without knocking and give your chosen one a good wrestler style thrashing. Continue to consistently bother an opponent and he’ll most probably keep bothering you and you’ll also be involved in quite a lot of matches with your boiling tempered rival, so it’s always a good idea to pester the champion if you are in the title hunt. There isn’t any pointless roaming about backstage, it’s all done and laid out right in front of you in menus that you can manipulate. Sadly this is a little hit and miss as every action you choose depletes your spirit meter and, as things seem to be more random than anything, you can end up losing more spirit than you bargained for. It’s always a good idea to rest yourself up before your match so you don’t go into it at what could be a major disadvantage. What is even better is the fact that the season can be played with up to three other players; what better way is there to prove you are the real champion by winning it and then retaining it in every given championship match main event?
With such strong competition on the other consoles, again it was always going to be difficult for Raw 2. It is an improvement over the original and has many commendable features going for it, but the wrestling mechanics remain untidy with sluggish pace and stilted Hulk Hogan alike animation. I hope to see the Raw series in a different light when it’s time for the third game to arrive, in fact I’m praying that the Xbox will get a worthy enough WWE title eventually.