E3 '07: WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 2008 Hands-On

THQ is bringing its wrestling series back for another tour around the squared circle and we've got a hands-on look.

Everyone knows that the WWE superstars The Big Show and Rey Mysterio Jr. are polar opposites when it comes to their in-ring style. Whereas Show is the ultimate powerhouse, lumbering around the ring in the hopes of grabbing his opponent and pummeling with a handful of blows, Mysterio is the ultimate high-flyer, able to easily evade attacks and launch his body from practically any point in the ring. THQ's SmackDown! vs. Raw series has made attempts to differentiate these disparate styles in the past, but they're taking it to an entirely new level in the upcoming WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw 08 for the Xbox 360, an updated build of which we got to see at E3 2007.

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When it comes to gameplay, SVR 08 will break down wrestlers along eight different styles: powerhouse, dirty, hardcore, technical, showman, submission, high flyer, and brawler. Every wrestler on the roster will have two of these attributes: one will be a primary attribute and the other, perhaps obviously, will be a secondary ability. For example, John Cena is primarily a brawler, yet his secondary ability is as a showman, while Jeff Hardy is primarily a high flyer, and a hardcore wrestler second. You'll be able to switch a wrestler's abilities as you see fit, but only within reason--you won't be able to change The Big Show into a high flyer, for example, because of his size.

A wrestler's abilities determine the kind of moves he will have access to, and the primary ability will give the wrestler a special move of sorts that can be used either to get out of tight situations or truly brutalize an opponent, depending on the ability. These special ability moves are in addition to a particular wrestler's finisher, and like that finishing move, you earn the ability to execute the move by building up momentum in the ring.

Let's take Jeff Hardy as an example. As a high flyer, Jeff Hardy's basic move set will include moves that no other wrestler ability will have, such as rope-leaping tricks, high-flying stunts off the turnbuckles, and the ability to quickly evade attacks by rolling out of the way. His high-flying "special move" is the ability to wrap up into a small package any wrestlers who come near him with an attack, effectively getting himself out of trouble in a tight spot. A powerhouse like The Big Show can use his own smash-and-bash moves to wear an opponent down, and his special move is known as rampage, which will temporarily make him immune to any attack. A technical wrestler using a special move will be able reverse any hold or move put on him automatically, while a brawler will be able to strike opponents at will, making it effectively impossible for them to avoid his blows.

So if the primary ability is so important in the ring, why even have a secondary ability at all? Here's where the next bit of depth comes into the new gameplay of SVR 08: you can flip your primary and secondary abilities at any point in the match. Currently, you have to pause the game and access a menu to do so, which is a bit awkward--it would be nice if you could flip abilities with a press of a button. Once your new ability is moved into the primary position, you'll have that ability's special move at your disposal. And, as in previous SVR games, you can store your momentum once it's maximized so that you can use either your special ability move or finisher whenever you like.

The Yuke's development team is always looking to give the player more control over a wrestler's moves in the ring, and that is coming through in SVR 08 as well. Much of that interactivity involves creative uses of the right analog stick in the game. While playing as the Undertaker vs. Bobby Lashley, we were able to crouch over Lashley and proceed to bash him in the face by moving the right stick left or right, and even deliver a punishing head-butt by moving the stick first up, then down. A new submission system is a big improvement over the timing and button-based systems in the past. This time, when you get an opponent in a submission move, you simply move the right stick to apply pressure on your opponent. The more pressure you put on them, the more it will wear them down; conversely, your grip on your opponent will loosen as you go. In order to maintain your hold, you'll need to let off the pressure slightly, which will give your opponent a chance to escape during the brief respite. If you are caught in a hold, a smart camera will zoom in and out to let you know when your opponent is putting the screws to you, or backing off a bit.

One other move we really liked in SVR 08 wasn't actually new at all: the triple strike was actually in last year's game but seems like it works better this time around. By holding the right bumper and pressing the X button, we had the Undertaker execute a vicious-looking trio of punches on Lashley. The move can be countered if the first blow is blocked, but if your opponent fails to do so, he'll fall victim to all three of your strikes. And, thanks to a deep move editor, you'll be able to design exactly how you wish those three punches (or kicks, or elbows) to execute.

Among all the other new additions to SVR 08, one of the coolest additions is ECW brand, including a bunch of ECW wrestlers in the game (such as Sandman, who was playable in the E3 build). In the ECW Extreme Rules match, as it's known in the game, you'll be able to pick which weapons you want to bring to the ring beforehand and, once the bell rings, you'll be able to take advantage of a host of new interactive crowds that are meant to recreate the rowdier nature of ECW audiences. As the combat moves outside the ring, audience members will hand you weapons to use and even hold down opponents so you can get a good bead on them. Whether the crowds will match the insane atmosphere of the old Philadelphia ECW house shows has yet to be determined, but we're hopeful.

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Though we don't know the full details of the SVR 08's new career mode, dubbed 24/7 mode, we do know that it will be a more detailed look at the life of your wrestler of choice (be he created or one from the current WWE stable). In addition to wrestling matches, you'll need to keep your grappler in shape by participating in gym workouts, or do promotional events where you sign autographs for your adoring public.

There's so much more to learn about SVR 08, including online options, updates to the various creation features, other modes in the game, and, of course, the full roster of wrestlers. We'll be keeping a close eye on the game as it develops over the coming months, and we'll be bringing you all the latest up to its release date in the fall.

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Discussion

87 comments
troy3065
troy3065

im so lookin forward to this game, i didnt get the svr07 so i dnt kno if u can but i hope u can hav an online royal rumble and tht theres more blood =D and i hope wen the timer goes from 10 - 1 i hope they shout down the numbers cos tht makes it so much better the crowd roarin 10, 9, 8 etc... an i hope u can hav a 5 on 5 tag match =P

bonus6
bonus6

it's goin to be great......... i love this wrestling game... more graphics , more hp ... it going to be reallly great..........

Psylocke2004
Psylocke2004

Question is the right analog stick for the 360 version going to be complete grapple control again?I liked the older Ps2 versions better then these newer reinstallments.

Jopizzle
Jopizzle

Had every game since the first smackdownon the playstation. This is my first time getting it for the 360. I wish the storyline was never ending like Smackdown 2.

Sam_Lowery
Sam_Lowery

I wonder if there's blood in the game, especially since WWE has gone all family friendly and has no blood EVER in their shows anymore, not even in ECW branded ones, or Pay Per View's. Vince killed all the competition and now the whole business is going down the toilet.

fudger2
fudger2

I wish that even though rey myserio is a cruiserweight, he could have a chance in a match against khali or another super heavyweight. I know it doesnt seem realistic but those of us that watch the show know that he whips some of the bigger wrestlers. Also little bastard better be on this game.

Pelicans
Pelicans

My guess would be that Jeff Hardy is in SVR08. Also this isn't really a comment but can you bring a ladder or a table?

TRISTLUV59
TRISTLUV59

I am looking forward to this game this year. I dont watch the shows anymore but the gam is good to play. The career mode is lovely I think it involves you and makes you feel the intensity. Cant wait for the release date.

Xiyon
Xiyon

Hm,it seems so far so good

bassam10
bassam10

this isnt just about wrestling you moust train and sign autographs thats so cool and then i mean in season mode woho XD

gww101
gww101

ya i hope they have full rosters this time cause in 07 they didn't have jeff hardy or mvp or sabu and so on. and i hope they have them on the right brand, cause last time orton was on smackdown in 07, kane on raw, show on raw, lashley on smackdown and so on.

Lum_Yatsura
Lum_Yatsura

YES! SVR 07 on Xbox 360 is incredible. So was the original SVR for PS2. SVR 06 didn't hold my interest much though. Let's hope this keeps up their positive trend.

BumpNGrind26960
BumpNGrind26960

This game looks amazing even though i dont follow the show its a great series of games to play and this one looks great. Hopefully there will be more interactive control of the characters outside of matches instead of just the locker room.

YourEvilTwin67
YourEvilTwin67

Im wondering how many ECW people they are going to have. Because that would suck if RVD or Sabu wasn't in it? :-(

Del_The_Prophet
Del_The_Prophet

DUCKIEBOY - I'm with you 100%. As a PS2 owner, the one thing I had to be envious of XBOX owners was that all of their really lame WWE games included the ability to use the music from your hard drive. Now that I have my 360 and my wrestling game, all I have is a really lame selection of bad music. Please let me make my own theme music. That way Sandman can come out to Metallica like he is supposed to...

Duckieboy
Duckieboy

I want to know if they are going to have "custom" soundtracks on this one. 1 thing i really hate is making a killer fighter/wrestler and having to choose some lame music for him.

Nicksta101
Nicksta101

Can't wait, ever since WWE Smackdown! Vs Raw, the series has catapulted into awesomeness, Smackdown! 2: Know Your Role was amazing too, but this is certain to out do 2007.

Lepuke
Lepuke

Not that the graphics really needed an upgrade from last year... but Damn! Looks killer.

KingKoop
KingKoop

knasty- They only used him as an example cos' he's easily related too there aren't many wrestlers of his size anymore. It's a good example to use, plus you never know he may be an unlockable. I mean I remember Andre the Giant was one in Wrestlemania 2000 on the N64 and he's now deceased and was at the time.

knasty87
knasty87

Am I the ONLY one that noticed them mentioning the Big Show?! He isn't even wrestling anymore and is irrelevant to anything going on in wresting today!

masterchief375
masterchief375

I hope they have a Co-op mode for online play like you and a friend can be tag team partners and go thru ur own storyline or watever, it would be kinda cool...

darkgamex2k
darkgamex2k

It seems its going to be a great game, i hope it could be better than last year SmackDown! vs Raw. The new additions to the gameplay should make the game much more fun but I want THQ to improve the AI for each wrestler since that has been the weak point of the SVR franchise over the couple of years.

Super_Kid_999
Super_Kid_999

ok ive bout and played all of the smd vs. raw games, as i am a smd vs. raw fnatic. but since ecw has come into the company back, is it going to be a show in the game? ior will we have to wait another year? this is the info we want to know gamespot!

HakujinZatoichi
HakujinZatoichi

I've been a big fan of the Smackdown series for years, but SVR 2007 was a huge dissapointment. I'm hoping SVR '08 is a much better game ALL around. I'd like to see more moves, more crowd interactivity and deeper create-a-superstar elements.

vrizzle
vrizzle

i just hope that i can transfer my 07 created superstars to the 08 version

SgtSilock
SgtSilock

Sound's great. Can't wait for it.

usukaschese
usukaschese

I'm sure they'll remove another 250 moves and add 10 like last year along with more flashy ways to control with less moves, more glitches, even less CAW items, and the same clipping issues. Another shiny layer of chrome on the turd the engine has become.

EL_Punisher85
EL_Punisher85

i like the game i think it should be better then the 07 one hopefuly it is cant wait to play this game cuz it's close to being the real thing......

antox15
antox15

If they don't clean up the many glitches and clipping issues they had in 07 this game will suck just as much as the last one did.

L8erSquare
L8erSquare

almost looks like the real thing.

watzup555
watzup555

cant wait when it comes out for Wii. I hope you do the moves with the nunchuack

Mr_Dunce
Mr_Dunce

Zazalon "What ever happened to different games on different platforms? Like a few years back Smackdown for PS2, RAW for the XBox, and Day of Reckoning and a few Wrestlemanias for the Gamecube. I say they should do that and make it totally different from each other. Like the whole 'ECW hardcore' thing. Leave that for one console ( preferably the Wii). Then have your 24/7 mode for the other the Xbox 360 or something." i would agree but the games were not equal, i dnt know bout the game cube but raw sucked nd i did not have a ps2 to play smackdown + i was allways a smackdow fan so it was really annoying

mehroze_96
mehroze_96

this game rocks , i want this game now

Armpitfarter
Armpitfarter

that's just dumb to have different stuff for different platforms

HeartBreakKID1
HeartBreakKID1

I hope they clear up a lot of the stupid glitches that they had in SVR 07. But, my instincts say that there will be new ones lol.

Zazalon
Zazalon

What ever happened to different games on different platforms? Like a few years back Smackdown for PS2, RAW for the XBox, and Day of Reckoning and a few Wrestlemanias for the Gamecube. I say they should do that and make it totally different from each other. Like the whole 'ECW hardcore' thing. Leave that for one console ( preferably the Wii). Then have your 24/7 mode for the other the Xbox 360 or something.

Anteraan
Anteraan

The load times from last year's game have to go. Otherwise, it looks like they have added some interesting features. Someone has to figure out a way to avoid pausing the game to flip primary and secondary attributes. Talk about a flow buster! This would seem even more lame when playing against a friend. Like the last one, demo and rental until I'm sold on it (I never got to that point on last year's).

wardrules
wardrules

Chris Beniot should not be on this game, he will never be referred to as a legend. maybe something in memory of his family should be it but not him.

xburlingtonw
xburlingtonw

bahh another 1? screw this. TNA Impact will p0wn

yokesh18
yokesh18

yep, i am really looking forward to the game. But as Tree06 has mentioned, hope they keep the unlimited exp points thing. And i wish they add Chris Benoit atleast as WWE Legend like they added Eddie last year. Either way, this game's in my shopping list along with ASSASSINS CREED. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- The matrix has you....

FallenAngel
FallenAngel

Less load times, and I'm a happy mark.

StarOceaner
StarOceaner

That whole part about audience members being able to hold the wrestlers totally reminds me of Def Jam Fight for New York. And the handing weapons part too.

ares78
ares78

"Keith4Chelski Wonder if Chris Benoit will be in the game" Probably not, in fact, I'd wouldn't be surprised if the game is delayed for a month or two to remove him out and any possible references to him in the career mode. WWE has been taking extra steps to remove any mention of him on their site and any 24/7 VOD offering which had reference to him and any merchandise relating to him,

Tree06
Tree06

I hope they don't have alot of loading screens. I hope they keep the GM mode and if you get the GM of the year award you get unlimited points to create your player.

alrehani
alrehani

"mhump2002 MORE TORRIE BUTTSECKS POSTERS!" I hope you choke.