It's a great game, but I think it could of been better
One thing this series has never slouched on was its graphics, and this year, there isn't much change from last year. Not like it needed it though. All of the wrestlers, including entrances look pretty authentic to whatever roster they're playing to (more on that later). The arenas are also made to the "t". The menus look pretty cool too. The animations are definitely a lot more fluid than last year, although some still look like robots (usually the Ultimate Control Moves, also more on that later). All in all, not much change, but none necessary.
Meh...there isn't much change here either. The voice-overs by the wrestlers in season mode are sort of hit and miss depending on the wrestler. People like Mr. Kennedy and Triple H are pretty cool, but people like Snitsky and even Randy Orton are bland. Also, the commentary is STILL GODLY AWFUL! COME ON! We've had a while to fix this now! They usually just talk background info about each wrestler and say generic things for other situations like finishers and turnbuckle dives. Also, the commentary in season mode when it comes to certain stories is also bad. Your character is more or less referred to as "this superstar". It's just not realistic. The music in the menus is still alternative rock stuff, although the Ghostface Killah track is a nice change of pace. Overall, there's definitely work to be had here.
OK. I must mention the control scheme change first. Now you have to use the analog sticks for grapples. This definitely takes some getting used to. After a while though, it didn't really feel better or worse than the old controls. Just different. For those stingy old-timers, you can use a scheme from the last game too. Another addition is the environmental hotspots around the ring. These do add another new level of realism to the fights, but the animations of those are limited. The other big thing are the "Ultimate Control Moves". Now instead of just flicking he stick, you click it instead. These give you the power to perform certain basic moves and change them however you want. You could pick somebody up in a vertical suplex, and pump him up and down, or just move him over to the ropes and drop him on his midsection. It's a cool concept, that I'd love to see them develop more for next time. It's also somewhat limited. But like I said, this is definitely one to improve for next year and still be cool. Now, there's another area that I have to be picky about. The collision detection and AI are still flawed. The AI is a little better about not being stupid, but they still have their "Dee dee dee" moments. The collision detection is also a smidge better, but definitely still needs work. The other big hitch is the roster. I know that most of the time the roster is out of date, but some people being gone are pretty weird, especially since these superstars were around before the cut-off date. For example, it's weird that Umaga and the Great Khali made it in, and the Spirit Squad and London and Kendrick aren't in at all! There's also no ECW or King Booker gimmick (yet Booker is the default World Champion!). Speaking of the roster, this is still pretty close to the real one. All in all, a few changes that make it not much better or worse, and some hitches still remain that have plagued the series since birth.
We still have a great game here, but after the last couple games have definitely pushed the envelope, this one kind of falls short of expectations. I still say that this is a pretty good PS2 game to end the life of this current gen system.
FINAL SCORE: 8/10