STAFF REVIEW of WWE Raw 2 (Xbox)

Monday, September 22, 2003.
by Reclaimer

WWE Raw 2 Box art Does THQs WWF Raw 2: Ruthless Aggression lay the smacketh down? Lets get ready to rumble as we delve into the latest installment of the WWE on the Xbox.
Right off the bat, this game completely sidewalk slams the original WWE Raw game that came out for the Xbox. Every category has been revamped over last years installment. In this years game, players are treated to various modes of game play for either a single player or up to four players. A quick start match to just get into the action, a tournament mode, an exhibition mode to set up your dream match, the famous royal rumble, and finally theres the season mode. Here you pick your favorite superstar and start at the beginning on the road to wrestlemania. This is where the game takes a turn for simulation. Now players can set their agendas for the upcoming weeks with activities such as manipulating other wrestlers alliances, interfering with matches, resting between your own bouts, and just doing what ever you can to gain the crowd approval, and lowering it for your enemies. The best part is that four players can participate in the season mode too.

Before the show even begins, this game touts one of the most expansive create a superstar modes Ive seen yet. You can easily spend hours just making a character exactly what you want him, her or it to be. This time, the game lets you use your songs from your custom soundtrack for your entrance theme music. Speaking of which, you could possibly spend just as long making a grand entrance, complete with custom lighting, pyro, to down right choosing the signs the fans will have in their hands.
Once you get that done, dont forget to use the option to create a team. Everyone needs friends in this business, and now you can arrange who they are going to be. From superstars to your own created squad, or a mix of both. Give your team an entrance, and youre set to start stomping candy ass. So right off the bat, you can tell that this game is big. Bigger than the first Raw game, and it sets the stage for a great wrestling game.
The actual game play is fun; and the controls feel tight and responsive. Though at times the fighting doesnt feel intuitive, and sometimes it boils down to the fastest button mashing.
As for a few other quirks: From time to time, the computer controlled characters seem to not know what to do, and they act erratically, occasionally punching or kicking at the air, or trying to grapple the last place you where standing, should you have been knocked down. A few things manage to bring this iron horse down though. I thought that THQ could have at least provided an instruction book that could be of use. I for one enjoy learning secrets in a game, and I understand thats it no fun to have everything spelled to you. But the included booklet doesnt even cover the season mode in the slightest bit, leaving it up to me to guess whats happening. Learning how to tag your team mate is totally up to you, and the instruction book gives no advice or instruction on how to remove an opponent using the proper method during a royal rumble. One of the worst flaws that Ive noticed playing the game is that the computer is extremely repetitive. I noticed that when I played against the computer alone, that regardless of whom you fight, the computer might use maybe 3 different moves against you. Then things get lopsided from there, and the computer retains all the advantage against you. One of the worst being that the computer will do is go into an endless pin loop. Occurring several times throughout the game, at one point the computer will attempt to pin you, regardless of what your health is like. Then you will kick out, and while youre still laying there, itll pin you again. During one match against Spike Dudley, he got lucky and knocked me down, and proceeded to pin me no less than 8 times in a row, back to back, without letting me get up. I noticed that this occurred with all the computer controlled wrestlers. At that point I turned the game off, because I got tired of mashing the buttons to get up for no reason. At its worst youll have two or three computer controlled wrestlers standing around your fallen body and taking turns trying to pin you. You kick one off, and the other jumps on. This sometimes went on so long that they eventually win. I thought that was extremely cheap. I do remember that this was a problem in the first Raw game, so I guess not every quirk was resolved in this sequel. Finally, the last strange thing about game is that against three other computer characters, the fight will take an extremely long time. The computer will refuse to let you get a pin and every time, the other characters will stop what theyre doing and interfere with your pin, regardless of team affiliation or whatever they are doing at the time. There is a way around that, but at first its extremely frustrating and it gets annoying that you have to intentionally distract the other players to just get one simple thing done every time. Dont get me wrong, the game is fun to play; its just that every so often the computer characters do things that defy all logic and turn a fun game into something entirely frustrating.

The graphical representations of the various wrestlers are outstanding. Minute details are translated into the game, from the scar thats on Booker Ts back to the menacing scowl of Stone Cold Steve Austin. Even details to certain wrestlers tattoos are exhibited. For proof, take a look at the work on the Undertaker, or Rey Mysterios back piece. THQ did a good job keeping the wrestlers totally authentic. Over 30 wrestlers in this game are represented, complete with their appropriate intros and costumes and alternate costumes. The game even captures Ric Flairs old school strut down the ramp with impeccable detail. I could honestly say that an outstanding job was done taking the visual sense of the WWE Raw on TV and translating it to the game. Sadly though, with so much attention going this time to properly represent the way the wrestlers look and act, I dont understand how could the wrestlers not blink as they walk? You could plainly see as the wrestlers make their way down the ramp that they do not blink what so ever. Strangely enough though, the characters exhibit emotions and they show pain on their faces well. Even then they close their eyes when they take a hit.

What can I say? It sounds like the TV show. From the sounds of hits to the mat, to the superstars intro music. There is an exception though with the music. Stacy Kieblers Kid Rock version of Legs and Victorias Tatu intro songs are not included. There is something similar being played, but its obvious that its not the original song. But, at least the games sound is done in 5.1 surround sound. You can use a song from your custom soundtrack added to your wrestlers introduction. That alone is a great improvement over the first. But strangely enough, you cannot substitute your custom soundtrack for the games in match music. There are background songs that play during the match. The songs are nothing special, and most of the time, I just turn them down. It would have added to the coolness factor to hear my own songs. Maybe the next game in the Raw lineup would have in game commentary. Commentary is absent from this game, and its sort of odd to participate in a WWE event and not hear the outrageous commentary.

Though an outstanding game in itself, I do not see why this game does not support high definition TVs. That should be a standard feature now in all games.

More details in the instruction book.

Wheres the commentary? You cant have a wrestling game without Jerry The King Lawler talking about someones puppies.

More utilization of the custom soundtrack feature in the game.

Make the wrestlers appear even more real by having them blink.

Overall: 9.6 / 10
Gameplay: 9.0 / 10
Visuals: 9.4 / 10
Sound: 9.6 / 10


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