Release Date: 09/15/2003
WWE Raw 2 is the sequel to one of the youngest, and most anticipated, games for the XBOX. THQ created some of the highest-rated games of any genre for the previous generationís systems, and unfortunately rushed through WWE Raw 1 to get a quick hold on the new market. With time a much less crucial factor, unfortunately THQ still failed to live up to both the potential of this new system and expectations of long-time fans.
There are many new features that are well worth noting. The enormous increase of match types was a great surprise to multiplayer fans. Unfortunately most of these matches arenít generated in season mode (which I will cover in detail later), and are also at times very buggy. The create-a-wrestler mode is more in-depth than most RPGís. The huge attention to detail for everything from announced nicknames during introductions to personal characteristics practically creates a game within a game. Warning, do not begin to create your own wrestler unless you have a few hours to spare, it is addicting.
The season mode is one new feature that deserves its own paragraph. It was the most asked for new feature (except possibly XBOX-Live compatible), and unfortunately the biggest let-down. After only a few weeks you have seen nearly every cut screen and inter-wrestler dynamic that the game offers. The methods in which random matches are generated (specifically title matches) are nothing less than frustrating. The complete lack of any dialogue during wrestler conflicts is beyond annoying (not even subtitles). The season mode does allow for multiple players to participate, but this only marginally raises the fun-factor. Finally, probably the worst bug in any game I have ever seen is the AI of interfering wrestlers. It is near impossible to lose any big match since every one involved multiple run-ins (most of the time upwards of 4) that ALWAYS attack your opponent. Your most predominant enemy, who may be completely neutral to your opponent, will never attack you. The difficulty even on hard is already fairly trivial to THQ wrestling experts without this major flaw.
WWE Raw 2 was knocking on the door of being an XBOX classic, but a few inexcusable defects pushes this to the used counter at Gamestop a little too fast. The career mode was the one feature that would give this game unbelievable replay value, and the one feature that kept this series from greatness, is also its worst aspect.
Nothing spectacular for the XBOX, but still above and beyond anything else that exists on any other console. Most of the character movements are very fluid, and some of the physics are surprisingly accurate (one wrestler performing a sweep kick will miss another wrestler performing a dropkick, unlike other versions).
One aspect that hasnít been mentioned previously because I hold it in little regard to this genre, but is anyway poorly done. One song is repeated consistently, and this game is in dire need of a system such as Madden and Tiger Woods PGA Tour which plays other random tracks during gameplay. Even if they donít have the best of songs, variety is much better than repetition.
The physics of the matches are impressive, but not a substantial step forward. The difficulty of the matches is changed simply by how much health your opponent and how difficult he/she is to defeat rather than increasing the intelligence. It is annoying, rather than difficult, to be required to commit over 6 finishing moves just for a win over a nobody opponent.
This would be a whole new game if it was XBOX-Live compatible. The ability to create separate leagues with friends over the internet, compete for titles, run in on friends matches, all with a created wrestler with your own personality would be one of the best setups ever for an online game. The season mode, obviously, needs serious work. There needs to be enough variety in the matches, music, and even inter-wrestler drama to make it worth playing 10+ seasons. Finally, AI improvements everywhere. When Iím at the final match of a pay per view in a title match versus a top tier star on the hardest mode available, I want to feel like I EARNED something at the end if I win.