BARCELONA, Spain--Just one week removed from our hands-on look at THQ's WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2007 at the Tokyo Game Show, we once again got our greedy paws on the game here in Barcelona at Microsoft's X06 event. The difference is, while the TGS build of the game was only a demo featuring a handful of wrestlers, the game shown off at X06 tonight was a much fuller representation of the final build of the game. In fact, after some sneaking around (that is, pressing a few menu buttons) we got a full rundown on the game's achievements and roster as it stands now. If you want to see those details, skip to the next page. For now, let's talk general manager mode.
If you played last year's SmackDown! vs. RAW game, you know that general manager mode was one of the most interesting additions to the series in a while. Cast as either the GM of the RAW or SmackDown! show, your job was (and still is in SVR 2007) to draft a roster of talent and try to bury the other brand by booking the best shows possible week after week. Fail to do so, and in the words of Mr. McMahon, you're FIRED!
As in the last game, the first step in GM mode is to fill out your roster using either the draft lottery or the current WWE lineups for both shows. In the interest of time, we went with the latter option and chose to take over the RAW show and then chose our belt holders for all the major championships. After that was complete, we headed to the revamped main menu in GM mode, which boasts an improved look and feel; here, you can access your schedule, check out your roster, read your e-mail, and get helpful tips on finding success booking your shows.
In terms of booking matches, things work more or less like they do in the previous game, with some important upgrades. First of all, the Yuke's development team has made the mode a bit more user-friendly this time around. For one, the game offers you better information on each wrestler in your stable. When choosing participants for a match, for example, you can press the Y button and see a detailed rundown of his recent participation on the show--stats like win-loss record, injuries, last championship match, and the number of weeks since he was last seen on the show, all in the interest of making sure you spread the love around your roster. Got to keep the talent happy, after all.
One other nice switch was being able to quickly filter through our list of wrestlers for a given match. Say you're setting up a ladder match for the intercontinental championship. You'll be able to cycle through filters for champions (which shows all belt holders in your promotion), contenders (so you can choose the right wrestler for the match), or view your entire roster. It's these kinds of quick-access upgrades that will save you time when booking matches week to week in GM mode.
Still, there seems like there's work to be done here. The game won't let you continue if you try to book a championship-belt match without the current champion being one of the participants, which is obvious. However, wouldn't it make sense, when setting up a championship match, for the champion to be automatically included? Instead, it seems like the match that is suggested by the game's artificial intelligence is completely random.
After booking a series of matches, as well as promos galore (which you still can't watch using the in-game engine), you can then sim through the matches or watch them unfold. After the "show" is over, you'll get a weekly tally of how your show performed against the competition, complete with audience gain or loss and a star rating for your show. How you work your roster, develop and foster rivalries, and carefully time matches to peak just in time for the all-important Pay-Per-View events will determine your success as a GM. Oh, and you've got to come in under budget, too.
While season mode was on hand in the X06 build, the din of the room where the demo unit was prevented us from learning much about the story. What we couldn't miss, no matter how loud the room, however, was the game's fine-looking player models. With a near-complete, if not final, roster being shown off, we got a chance to check out some of the lesser-known grapplers in the game, and they all look expertly modeled and realistic looking. In the ring, the wrestlers will work up a sweat after a few minutes of going at it, and WWE diva fans will be pleased to note that the ladies look much more realistic (and feminine) than in last year's game.
So, now that we have those preliminary impressions out of the way, here's the information we promised you at the beginning of the preview. First, the roster lineup for the X06 build of WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2007 (locked WWE Legends denoted with (L) after their name):
Batista, The Big Show, Bobby Lashley, Booker T, Carlito, Chavo Guererro, Chris Benoit, Chris Masters, Daivari, Edge, Finlay, Gregory Helms, Hardcore Holly, JBL, Joey Mercury, John Cena, Johnny Nitro, Kane, Ken Kennedy, Kid Kash, Kurt Angle, Lance Cade, Mark Henry, Matt Hardy, Mick Foley, Paul Burchill, Psicosis, Randy Orton, Rey Mysterio, Ric Flair, Rob Van Dam, Shawn Michaels, Shelton Benjamin, Snitsky, Super Crazy, Boogeyman, The Great Khali, Trevor Murdoch, Triple H, Umaga, Undertaker, Viscera ,Vito, William Regal, Candice Michelle, Jillian Hall, Lita, Melina, Mickie James, Torrie Wilson, Trish Stratus, Bam Bam Bigelow (L), Bret Hart (L), Cactus Jack (L), Dude Love (L), Dusty Rhodes (L), Eddie Guerrero, Hulk Hogan (L), Jerry Lawler (L), Jim Neidhart (L), Mankind (L), Mr. Perfect (L), Roddy Piper (L), Shane McMahon (L), Steve Austin (L), Tazz (L), The Rock (L).
Obviously, this is a pretty good list, but there are some notable exceptions, namely members of the Spirit Squad, Mr. McMahon, Eugene, and, of course, Little Bastard (okay, just kidding about the last one). Still, with time left to go before the game is released, perhaps we could see the current roster grow even more in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.
As with any Xbox 360 game, a big part of the fun is the achievements associated with the game. We did a little investigating into the ones in SVR 2007 and here's the 29 achievements we found out about in the game:
- Season Mode Jobber - Complete season mode on easy or normal difficulty. Season Mode Vet - Complete season mode on hard difficulty. Season Mode Legend - Complete season mode on legend difficulty. New Hire - Complete one year of GM mode. Employee of the Year - Win GM mode. Royal Rumble Rookie - Win a Royal Rumble as the number-one entrant. Royal Rumble Jobber - Win a Royal Rumble on easy difficulty. Royal Rumble Veteran - Win a Royal Rumble on normal difficulty. Royal Rumble Pro - Win a Royal Rumble on hard difficulty. Royal Rumble Legend - Win a Royal Rumble on legend difficulty. In Ring Journeyman - Win a match against every superstar with pin or submission on any difficulty. In Ring Technician - Defeat every superstar with a pin or submission on hard. Complete Domination - Beat every superstar on the roster on legend difficulty. Championship Gold - Unlock all WWE championship titles. Those Who Paved the Way - Unlock all WWE Legends. Way Past Jobber - Win 50 matches. Seasoned Vet - Win 100 matches. Online Rising Star - Win 20 matches online. Online Veteran - Win 50 matches online. Online Blue Chipper - Win 20 consecutive online matches. Certified Online Superstar - Win 50 consecutive online matches. A Fighting Online Champion - Defend created championship 20 times. Let it Reign - Defend created championship 50 times. Six additional "secret" achievements.
With its next-gen graphics, an exciting lineup of WWE superstars, and a growing list of gameplay features, we're more excited about WWE SmackDown! vs. RAW 2007 than ever before. This coming Monday, we'll have an in-depth look at the game's story mode and more details on GM mode, so be sure to come back then.