If you've read our hands-on preview of THQ's upcoming SmackDown vs. Raw 2010, then you'll know that we predicted that there might have been a feature or two the publisher was keeping secret. Turns out, we were right. Read on for an exclusive reveal of three brand new features coming to this year's version.
WWE Rivals is a system that pairs every Superstar in the game, including user-created Superstars, with up to five allies and five rivals. These rivals and allies are ranked by the intensity of the relationship, so the higher the intensity, the more likely they are to interfere and get involved in your matches. You'll have the ability to change and customise these relationships, so you can tailor your storylines to your every whim, even keeping them on track with alliances depicted by the shows. Rivals and allies are linked back to Superstars, so you'll be able to spin a complex web of a plot and catch everyone in its many threads.
So, how will WWE Rivals actually work in-game? Well, during a match there's a chance of interference occurring against the Superstar with the advantage at that time. If the game decides it's time for interference to happen, then either one of your rivals or one of your opponent's allies will come running out. When they do, they can interfere in a number of ways. They can stand by the ring and break pinfall attempts, enter the ring and attempt a finisher, or enter the ring with an object.
Some Superstars even have unique interference sequences. When The Undertaker, the greatest wrestler that ever lived, obviously, interferes, lights go out and then, as if by magic, he's in the ring. Cue eyes filled with terror and shrieks from the crowd. When Kane decides to step in fire shoots up from the turnbuckles. When Triple H walks out, he does so packing his trademark sledgehammer.
It doesn't stop there. When somebody comes out to interfere with a match, there is a chance that somebody else will come out to attack the interferer. The idea is that the new system will recreate the drama and story you get within a televised match. You see Superstars running into the ring to interfere all of the time in real life. It's about time it happened in the game.
There is, obviously, a concern that the interferences will soon become very annoying. According to THQ, however, that simply won't happen. The AI system for the interfering Superstars has been completely revamped so they're more realistic and surprising. The interferers will leave once they have caused enough damage or taken enough damage, too. And, according to THQ, the WWE Rivals feature only impacts your Exhibition experience and does not carry over to Road To WrestleMania, due to the complexities that would arise from established storylines set in that mode. It can also be turned off in the Match Options, if you really, really hate it.
As well as giving us the skinny on WWE Rivals, THQ also revealed the first details on Championship Scramble and new Royal Rumble features. Championship Scramble is a brand new match type, a frantically paced free for all that sees five superstars going at it against each other in a mad dash to claim one of the WWE's individual championships. It begins with two superstars, with three more joining intermittently throughout the match. With each pinfall or submission a new champion is crowned, and whoever is left holding the belt at the end of the time limit walks away as the official champion.
Bar this, anything goes. You can use foreign objects and fight outside of the ring, but pinfalls and submissions have to occur on the mat. The challenge comes from isolating an opponent long enough to record a fall - the three other competitors will always be quick to jump in and break the count or submission attempt.
Our final exclusive SDvsRaw reveal concerns Royal Rumble, perhaps WWE's most famous event. Dispatching foes in the Royal Rumble is no longer handled solely through button mashing, as there are now three new mini-games that govern who wins and loses those all-important struggles at the ropes, in the corner and on the apron. In addition, you now have the ability to dispatch your opponents with the use of Royal Rumble Finishers specifically designed to send superstars over the ropes and down to the floor below.
Middle Rope Elimination requires you to rapidly press the flashing button to gain the upper hand. You can escape this position instantly if you have a finisher stored. Corner Elimination sees you press the button that appears on screen before your opponent to gain the advantage. Again, you can escape this position instantly by using a stored finisher. To chuck your opponent out using the Bottom Rope Elimination, you need to stop the cursor in the blue target zone by pressing A (on the Xbox 360 version). To escape this you need to rapidly press the buttons, or, to escape instantly, use a stored finisher.
So that's your lot for exclusive new WWE SmackDown vs. Raw 2010 details. WWE Rivals, Championship Scramble, the changes to Royal Rumble, as well as all the new creation features outlined in our hands-on preview, should ensure this year's game is one that justifies forking out your hard-earned cash. With the game out later this month, you won't have to wait long to find out.
WWE SmackDown VS. Raw 2010 is due out for PS3, Xbox 360, PSP, Wii, PS2 and Nintendo DS on October 23.